Racing pioneers might keep Waltrip waiting
CONCORD – After Darrell Waltrip failed to make the second class
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
NASCAR’s first season. It is likely
that the older group of voters will honor Parks for his work by
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 @news-record.com
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The age of the voters in the
NASCAR Hall of Fame could work
against Darrell Waltrip in future elections.