Saturday, January 24, 2009

Picking is easy, but just on part of first hall class

Let's review your feedback about who should be in the first class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame when it opens next year.

It comes as no surprise to me that there was a pretty solid agreement that Bill France Sr., Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty and David Pearson should be in the first class. I think those four are absolute slam-dunks and always have.

It also makes sense that the decision on a fifth inductee is split. Junior Johnson, who would be my fifth pick unless somebody makes a strong case I can't imagine, had only a slight advantage over Lee Petty, the patriarch of the Petty family.

I had Lee Petty and Bill France Jr. in my second year's class, mainly because I think putting a member of each of those families in the hall in the each of the first two years strongly emphasizes their contributions while still touching all the bases.

From that point on, there was a wide range of support. Fireball Roberts, Tim Flock, Smokey Yunick, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison and the Wood Brothers were in the next tier. It actually did surprise me a little that Allison and Darrell Waltrip didn't get more support than they did.

Some fans think more than five a year should be inducted. I like that number for two reasons.

First, it ought to be hard to get into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. We'll be seven or eight classes into this and people will still not have made the cut that most everybody agrees deserve recognition.

The second reason is the induction ceremony itself. If you're going to have 10 people going in at once, if you give each inductee his due, then the ceremony is going to last four or five hours. Nobody needs that.

A couple of people complained that I didn't put Bill Elliott on my list of candidates. That's because Elliott is still driving. I did list Terry Labonte, though, and he might do some racing this year. Just to be clear, Bill Elliott will be in the hall as soon as he is eligible.

That got me to thinking about guys who might be in the same category. Which active drivers have already done enough to make them certain hall of famers?

Jeff Gordon, of course, is first on that list. He'll have at least four championships and perhaps somewhere around 90 to 100 wins, if not more, before he's done. That's a no-brainer.

There's Elliott, as I said. I would add Mark Martin, Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson to the list. Bobby Labonte is close.

I didn't have Ray Evernham on my list because I still consider him active, too. But he's an automatic. Like him or not, Chad Knaus will be there some day.

Motor Racing Network anchor Barney Hall was on my list and he's still active, but I think Barney is The Man and I couldn't make the list without him.

Maybe Ken Squier, Chris Economaki and Hal Hamrick should have made the list, too, but it's hard for somebody in the media to be objective about the media.

Feel free to keep offering your feedback here, and don't forget that after the list of the first 25 nominees comes out in June fans will get the chance to actually vote on the first five and have those votes count. The fan ballot will count as one of the 48 votes that decide the first group of inductees.


Anonymous said...

Poole favorites in order.

Anonymous said...

Did everybody forget the father of the great Dale Earnhardt!!!! Where is Ralph's name?????

Anonymous said...

Does everybody hate Larry Mac?? Look what he did at Robert Yates! Forgive him for giving Earnhardt his only Daytona 500. Anybody but Earnhardt!!!

Anonymous said...

Ps I just saw AA said the Head of GM!! Getting bailed out by my tax money is not a qualification!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with your first Junior Johnson had a major impact bringing RJR into the fold!

TWayne said...

I think Max Helton should be in at some point.

TWayne said...

Max Helton at some point

Anonymous said...

There should be different categories:
1. Driver
2. Track owners, founders, executives, etc.
3. Team Owners and/or Crew Members
4. Media

Each year the induction number should be:
Driver = 5
Track owners, founders, executives = 1
Team Owners and/orCrew Members = 1
Media = 1

Once again the powers that be at NASCAR can't see the forest for the trees. Don't lump everyone into one category. Make things distinguish for a change and let people be recognized for what they do as part of the sport.

Anonymous said...

I like the separate category idea! Maybe after the first coupla-three years they could reduce the number of inductees to keep it more special.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Junior Johnson was very important in starting the conversation with RJR. However, the credit should go to Ralph Seagraves who was the real power behind Reynolds coming in with millions to save NASCAR.

It was at the time that Ralph started talks with France that the big, big changes came to the sport. Ralph thought Junior was to "small potatoes" and that's why he did not want to sponsor him.

I would not doubt if some of the changes were Ralph's idea or spurned on by his vision of the big picture. I mean this is when France dumped all the little tracks, strated the point system, gave bonuses to the top drivers for participating in every race, cleaning up the filth around most of the tracks, and brought big money to the sport.

Many, including Petty have said that Reynolds saved NASCAR. And of course that is due to Ralph.

Anonymous said...


majorshouse said...

I really like all of the first five you have named. Definitely Big Bill, Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for quite bovious reason, David Pearson and Junior Johnson.

Anonymous said...

This sure sounds like the CUP Hall of Fame. Where are all the pioneers in the modified and other series?

Anonymous said...


If I'm not mistaken junior Johnson controled the rjr situation. When he realized how much $$ RJR had he suggested they sponser the entire series vs. just his team, trust me, junior Johnson was no small potatoes and if it weren't for his vision there would be no NASCAR.

Anonymous said...

We already have a NASCAR Hall Of Fame . Its been in Talladega for decades . And for the fans to participate in this marketing ploy is a slap in the face to all of the names who are in the current Hall Of Fame .
And yes , everyone does and should hate Larry Mac .

Anonymous said...

I have problem with what you said about Barney Hall. I believe announcers and writers should fall under a different standard other then the 5 years retired. I mean Mr Hall has been doing this so long he should go in NOW. That's my two cents

Anonymous said...

Bruton Smith