‘Gap In Worthy Candidates’ For NASCAR Hall? – Hardly

CHARLOTTE, NC (February 11, 2013) – The Friday, February 8 edition of USA Today featured an eight-page sports section with nearly a full page and a half about NASCAR. To see that number of column inches dedicated to stock car racing in a publication boasting a daily circulation in excess of 1.8 million copies – more than any other newspaper in the country – was unusual.

After all, NASCAR doesn’t usually ‘trend’ as high as stick and ball sports when it comes to newspaper exposure.

Unfortunately, included in Friday’s USA Today coverage was a one-half page op/ed column – ‘Hall Of Mediocrity? Could Be.’

In a story that broke the same day as the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, writer Jeff Gluck takes the stance that only competitors – and not ‘contributors’ – should be considered NASCAR Hall worthy. Gluck was particularly critical of the inclusion of Anne B. France, the wife of NASCAR founder Bill France, Sr., on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot. (See below for list of 2013 NHOF candidates.)

Gluck goes on to conclude that once the drivers currently on the NASCAR Hall ballot – and after several drivers now competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup ranks are elected to the Hall – the shrine will have a “gap in worthy candidates.”

Evidently, if you aren’t a driver – and a Cup one at that – the NASCAR Hall of Fame shouldn’t be on your radar according to Gluck.

“Behind-the-scenes executives, track operators and marketers might have contributed to the sport’s growth, but immortalizing them goes against what a Hall of Fame should be about: the people who competed,” Gluck wrote.

That’s an interesting premise, but given that no other Hall of Fame subscribes to this theory, it’s also an incorrect one.

A brief scan of the Hall of Fame rosters of NFL, College Football, Basketball, Baseball and Hockey refutes Gluck’s position as all include coaches, executives, broadcasters and other worthy contributors.

None of Halls listed above are a ‘competitors only’ shrine.

So why should NASCAR’s Hall be any different?

The fact is it isn’t, but even if you would maintain the NASCAR Hall as a drivers-only club, you would be hard pressed to ever run out of worthy candidates.

For instance, Cup drivers not covered in Gluck’s assessment NHOF eligibles include Alan Kulwicki (right), Tiny Lund, Ralph Moody, Dave Marcis, Tom Pistone, Gober Sosebee, Johnny Mantz, Nelson Stacy, Hershel McGriff, Pete Hamilton, Charlie Glozbach, and Bob Flock.

All left their mark on the sport despite each having five or fewer NASCAR Cup wins to their credit.

Meanwhile, why would you ever reject the NHOF candidacy of Neil Bonnett, LeeRoy Yarbrough, Donnie Allison, Marvin Panch, Jack Smith, Davey Allison and Marshall Teague – all great drivers and each possessing anywhere between seven and 22 career Cup wins?

And just so it’s not a boys only thing, let’s consider Louise Smith (below right), Sara Christian and Janet Guthrie for Hall as well based on their accomplishments as competitors.

If you were to run out of Cup drivers worthy of Hall consideration as the story predicts, there are plenty who raced in and excelled in other NASCAR divisions to fill the shrine.

Drivers that quickly come to mind are Grand National (now Nationwide Series) standouts Tommy Houston, Sam Ard, Tommy Ellis and Harry Gant. So do past multi-time division champions Larry Pearson and Randy Lajoie.

NASCAR Trucks? How about Ron Hornaday, Jr., Jack Sprague or Mike Skinner?

Mike Stefanik (left), Ray Hendrick, Bugs Stevens, Jimmy Spencer and Geoff Bodine are NASCAR Hall material after great careers in the Modified Division, aren’t they?

Additionally, Bob Welborn certainly deserves NHOF consideration after winning three championships and 19 of 111 races in the old NASCAR Convertible Division.

Even the old NASCAR Goody’s Dash Series had it stars in multiple-time champions Danny Bagwell, Robert Huffman, Dean Combs and Larry Hoopaugh.


These people?


Based on this random sampling – and we apologize for leaving others out due to space limitations – it seems there are plenty of candidates from all divisions to fill the NASCAR Hall for the next couple of decades if all you want is a drivers-only shrine.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes non drivers – crew chiefs Smoky Yunick, Harry Hyde, Ray Evernham, Tim Brewer, Jeff Hammond and Kirk Shelmerdine – or engine builders Ernie Elliott, Randy Dorton, Robert Yates and Jack Roush would only enhance the NASCAR Hall if ever elected, not detract from it.

Crewmembers Danny ‘Chocolate’ Myers and Dan Elliott, NASCAR officials Harold Kinder and Jim Hunter, media members Chris Economaki and Ken Squirer, and even PR people like Tom Roberts would be worthy inductees thanks to amazing careers all.

Anybody want to try to make a case that just because these people weren’t in the seat, they weren’t competitors – that they were ‘contributors’ only?

Probably not – unless you want to start a good fight.

The bottom line is those who were the best at a given craft should – and fortunately are – eligible for NASCAR Hall of Fame consideration.

If it were up to me, even more ‘contributors’ would be included in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. At the very least, there would be an equal balance between those who were behind the wheel and those who greased them.

After all, NASCAR is and always will be the sum of it’s parts, not just a highlight reel of those who get to take bows in Victory Lane each week after a Cup race.

As such, we salute the NASCAR Hall of Fame and hope it will continue to reflect the sport’s diversity of accomplishment by honoring a wide range of individuals – not just drivers – who have made NASCAR what it is today.


Drivers who were on the 2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame ballot included Rusty Wallace, Herb Thomas, Buck Baker, Red Byron, Jerry Cook, Tim Flock, Jack Ingram, Bobby Isaac, Fred Lorenzen, Benny Parsons, Curtis Turner and Joe Weatherly.

Meanwhile, team owners Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick and Raymond Parks were on the list this year as were Martinsville Speedway founder H. Clay Earles; Les Richter, NASCAR executive and Riverside International Raceway president, promoter T. Wayne Robertson and Anne B. France, wife of NASCAR founder Bill France.

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