A Look At The Nominees For The 2011 Nascar Hall Of Fame And Steve’s Picks

Big Bend, WI (July 5, 2010) – Late last week, NASCAR announced its list of the 25 nominees for the second induction class to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Five inductees from the list below will be chosen. The 2011 inductee class will be announced in October and honored next year at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C. This year’s inaugural induction class consisted of Dale Earnhardt, Junior Johnson, Bill France Jr., Bill France Sr. And Richard Petty. This second round of nominees will be truly worthy class who’ll include many of the sport’s legends. The list below were selected by a 21-person nominating committee consisting of representatives from NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and track owners from both major facilities and historic short tracks. The committee’s votes were tabulated by accounting firm Ernst & Young. Joining the 21-person committee this year is Jody Deery, owner of acclaimed quarter-mile short track Rockford (IL) Speedway. The HOF’s inductees will be determined by the Voting Panel, which has 53 members – the entire Nominating Committee, media members, manufacturer representatives, retired competitors (drivers, owners, crew chiefs) and recognized industry leaders. In addition, the fan vote will result in the Voting Panel’s 53rd and final ballot. Four new members will join the Voting Panel this year: Richard Petty, Kyle Petty of TNT, legendary media member Chris Economaki, and Jim Campbell of Chevrolet. Following are the 25 nominees and includes my comments.

* Bobby Allison, 1983 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and winner of 84 races. This is a slam dunk, not only is he one of the top-10 drivers in the history of the sport, after retirement became a car owner and still is a great ambassador for the sport. However his one championship may bite and cause him to wait a year. Waltrip’s three championships and higher media profile may prevail.

* Buck Baker, first driver to win consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championships. Buck was an interesting character also drove in the old Grand-American division, Hall of Fame yes, not this year.

* Red Byron, first NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, in 1949. He was the first, however too short of a career.

* Richard Childress, 11-time car owner champion in NASCAR’s three national series. Slam dunk, but I do not like putting current participants in the Hall of Fame, whatever the sport.

* Jerry Cook, six-time NASCAR Modified champion. Legend of the Northeast Modifieds, perhaps too cultish for the majority of the HoF voters in Charlotte? Worthy yes, but won’t get in.

* Richie Evans, nine-time NASCAR Modified champion. See Jerry Cook. Tragically killed at Martinsville in a private test in 1985. This driving legend hopefully will get in, but not for five to ten years.

* Tim Flock, two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion. Worthy yes, even though suspended by NASCAR. He’ll get in within four years.

* Rick Hendrick, 12-time car owner champion in NASCAR’s three national series. See Richard Childress.

* Jack Ingram, two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion. Laid the cornerstone for the current Nationwide Series, worthy yes, but not for awhile.

* Dale Inman, eight-time NASCAR Sprint Cup championship crew chief. He’ll be the first non-driver, owner to get in. I’d put him in next year or the year after.

* Ned Jarrett, two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion. Slam Dunk. Great driver, retired early due to back issues, one of the premier diplomats of the sport.

* Fred Lorenzen, 26 wins and winner of the Daytona 500 and World 600. Hall of Fame worthy, retired at the peak of his career, then came back. Will hurt his chances short term. He should in by 2015 or so. Some buffoon at Las Vegas said he’s not Hall of Fame worthy. Did he start following the sport in February? Geez.

* Bud Moore, 63 wins and two NASCAR Sprint Cup titles as a car owner. Very high on the list, wouldn’t vote for him this class, however should make it in the next two-three years.

* Raymond Parks, NASCAR’s first champion car owner. Just passed away, credentials don’t make it.

* Benny Parsons, 1973 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion. Not only a great driver and personality really followed in Ned Jarrett’s footsteps as a great ambassador. Worthy next year or so.

* David Pearson, 105 victories and three NASCAR Sprint Cup championships. Slam dunk. ‘Nuff said.

* Lee Petty, winner of first Daytona 500 and first three-time series champion. See above.

* Fireball Roberts, won 33 NASCAR Sprint Cup races, including the 1962 Daytona 500. Although passed away before I was born, listening to people involved in the sport when he was alive truly shows how big he was. Before Dale lost his life in 2001, Fireball was the biggest NASCAR driver lost in a racing accident, although Joe Weatherly is in the vein. I’d want to vote for him, but Waltrip’s championships, longevity and profile trump him. I think if not this year, he’ll get in next year.

* T. Wayne Robertson, helped raise NASCAR popularity as R.J. Reynolds Senior VP. Slam dunk, T. Wayne brought the sport from the back roads to Wall St. One of the top-10 most important people in NASCAR period. Ask anybody involved in the sport in the 1960’s-1990’s they’ll back me up.

* Herb Thomas, first two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, 1951 and ’53. Hall of Fame worthy, but not this year.

* Curtis Turner, early personality, called the “Babe Ruth of stock car racing.” Babe Ruth was never banned from the sport. Curtis is a cult-like figure who is a slam dunk, I’d vote for him in the future but not the next two classes. Maybe a pick between him and Fireball. However, Fireball was more popular and was a greater ambassador. Could be considered the Mickey Mantle of NASCAR, if he only took care of himself and seriously focused on his craft, could have been one of the top-5 of all-time.

* Darrell Waltrip, winner of 84 races and three NASCAR Sprint Cup championships. Slam dunk. I’d vote for him this year over Hendrick and Childress just because Waltrip is not involved competitively.

* Joe Weatherly, two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion. Worthy driver, like Roberts, Turner and Thomas, a pillar of the sport, would not get my vote this year. However slam dunk n 2012 or 2013.

* Glen Wood, as driver, laid foundation for Wood Brothers’ future team success. He’ll have to wait behind Childress, Hendrick and Petty. Look for him next year or ’13

* Cale Yarborough, winner of three consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup titles, 1976-78. Slam dunk…but. An equal of Allison and Waltrip on the track, however not involved publicly today, could hurt him for this year. Left the sport for several years to drive Indy Cars. If not this year, will get in next year.

My Picks, Ned Jarrett, David Pearson, Lee Petty and T. Wayne Robertson and Darrell Waltrip.

NASCAR Media contributed to this story.

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