NASCAR Hall committee honors pioneers 1st

After Darrell Waltrip failed to make the second

NASCAR Hall of Fame class this week,

the three-time Cup champion lamented that “it just wasn’t my time.”

It might not be next year either. Members of the Hall of Fame

voting committee made a statement with their selections Wednesday:

they intend to honor the sport’s pioneers over those who rank

higher in wins or are from a more recent era.

The 52 members (plus one fan ballot) decided David Pearson,

Bobby Allison, Lee Petty, Ned Jarrett and Bud Moore will make up

the second class. Some argue that by skipping Waltrip and fellow

three-time champion Cale Yarborough, the Hall loses some luster.

Instead, the group, many of which are 60 or older, made a statement

that it’s important to remember the sport’s pioneers. With no

veterans committee expected for five or more years, the older group

of voters took it upon themselves to ensure that those in the sport

in the early days were honored. That likely will continue next year

since the committee makeup will remain about the same. With that in

mind, here’s an early look at what next year’s Hall of Fame class

could look like: 1. Raymond Parks. There was a good bit of

discussion about one of the early founders of the sport. Parks

aided Bill France Sr. behind the scenes, often helping with money

and entering a number of cars to help fill fields. 2. Dale Inman.

The eight-time champion crew chief received votes Wednesday. The

committee could decide next year that it’s time to add Inman as a

crew chief to honor his accomplishments and, in a way, salute all

the mechanics who have worked in the sport through the years. 3. An

older driver. Again, the older voters are likely to influence or

select a driver from the sport’s early days. That could be Buck

Baker, a two-time champion who won 46 races, or Herb Thomas, the

sport’s first two-time champion, or Fireball Roberts, considered

the sport’s first superstar before his death. 4. Richie Evans. He

could be the wild card. The nine-time modified champion won an

estimated 475 races. What could help him is if the voting members

note how this is a

NASCAR Hall of Fame and not just for

those in Cup. If Evans makes the cut and the older group of voters

lean the way they did this week, that would leave only one spot for

Waltrip and Yarborough next year. Then the voters will have to

decide which is worthy to make the third Hall of Fame class. Thus,

a three-time champion might not become a Hall of Fame member until

Year 4.