Racing pioneers might keep Waltrip waiting

CONCORD – After Darrell Waltrip failed to make the second class

to the

NASCAR Hall of Fame class this week,

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


And it might not be next year, either.

Members of the Hall of Fame voting committee stated with their

selections that they intend to honor some of the sport’s pioneers

over those who rank higher in wins or are from a more recent


The 52 members (and one fan ballot) elected David Pearson, Bobby

Allison, Lee Petty, Ned Jarrett and Bud Moore to the Hall of Fame

on Wednesday. Those five will be inducted in May.

The class is impressive, but some will argue that by skipping

Waltrip and fellow three-time champion Cale Yarborough, the Hall

loses some luster.

As a member of the voting committee, my ballot had Pearson,

Allison, Waltrip, Yarborough and former crew chief Dale Inman.

Pearson was an automatic after failing to make last year’s

inaugural class. He was listed on 94 percent of the ballots this

time. The main issue for me was that by selecting Allison, Waltrip

and Yarborough, it left only one spot for a pioneer type


At age 41, I’m among the youngest members in the room. Many in

the room are older than 60 and knew Bill France Sr. – I’ve only

read about him.

The point is that many of the older voters were not likely to

have only one spot for a pioneer individual. So, they broke up

Allison, Waltrip and Yarborough.

With no veterans committee expected for five or more years, the

older group of voters – many of whom have been involved in the

sport for most of their life in various roles – took it upon

themselves to ensure that those in the sport in the early days were


That likely will continue next year with the committee remaining

about the same.

With that in mind, here’s an early look at what next year’s

class could look like:

1. Raymond Parks. There was a good bit of discussion about him,

one of the early founders of the sport. Parks helped Bill France

Sr. behind the scenes, often helping with money and entering a

number of cars to help fill fields. He also was the champion car

owner in

NASCAR’s first season. It is likely

that the older group of voters will honor Parks for his work by

selecting him.

2. Dale Inman. The eight-time champion crew chief received votes

this time. With Moore making the Hall this time, the committee

honored a fulltime car owner (inaugural class member Junior Johnson

was a driver and later an owner). The committee could decide its

time to add Inman as a crew chief to, 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; Herb

Thomas, the sport’s first two-time champion; or Fireball Roberts,

considered the sport’s first superstar before his death. Look for

the older voters to play a key role in this pick.

4. Richie Evans. He could be the wildcard. 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 a Fame and not just

for those in Sprint Cup.

If Evans makes the cut and the older voters lean the way they

did this week that would leave only one spot for Waltrip or

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.

Contact Dustin Long at 373-7062 or dustin.long



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The age of the voters in the

NASCAR Hall of Fame could work

against Darrell Waltrip in future elections.