Legendary wrenchman Dale Inman not only set records that will be difficult for any crew chief to match, but he also changed the way the position was viewed by some. A true member of the Petty family, his career is forever linked with that of Richard Petty — but he actually passed his cousin in terms of titles won. Inman has been a mainstay of the Petty group, and NASCAR, for most of his career and continues to keep a hand in the sport despite his official retirement. Here are five reasons he is a Hall of Famer.
Still lends a hand
Inman (pictured with several crew chiefs) may be officially retired, but he’s still around racing and promoting NASCAR. He’s worked as a spotter and as a consultant for race teams and participated in the induction of Richard Petty into the Hall of Fame. In 2008, he helped unveil the first artifact to go into the Hall, the Plymouth Belvedere that Petty drove to 27 wins in 1967.
Inman showed how to do more with less, something NASCAR teams of today continue to battle as a concept. His standout season was 1967, one of his title-winning runs with Petty. That year, he and Petty won a NASCAR-record 27 races, including a stretch of 10 in a row. The most amazing part? All 27 victories came in the same car — one they had actually built a year earlier.
It’s fair to say that Inman has pretty much seen it all in NASCAR. His career began in 1958 when NASCAR was still primarily a grassroots effort drawing attention in the Southern realm. But he stuck around and watched it grow into a national sport with races all over the country, watching men like Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Gordon go from young drivers learning the ropes to champions with multiple titles. He saw television take on a larger role and multiple members of the France family at the helm. And he continued to find success through it all, enjoying a career that spanned 44 seasons.
Hoist those trophies
Inman can’t possibly wrap his arms around all of the races in which he led drivers to victory. In addition to winning championships on a somewhat regular basis, he was a fairly continual presence in Victory Lane, as well. Inman tallied a record-setting 193 wins as a crew chief over the course of his lengthy career.
Inman is best known for his work with Richard Petty, but he actually passed The King when it came to titles. Inman was Petty’s crew chief for almost three decades, a span in which the pair won seven Cup championships. He led Hall of Famer Petty to the titles in 1964, '67, '71, '72, '74, '75 and '79. But Inman wasn’t done yet. In 1984, he took Terry Labonte and owner Billy Hagan to the championship for his eighth career Cup title as a crew chief.