ODDS ON FAVORITES
By Rick Houston
The 25 finalists for the inaugural class of inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame were announced July 2, and it’s a decent list. From those names, the class of five honorees will be chosen and announced in October.
There are those who will quibble with the list, and that’s fine. This kind of list is supposed to spark debate. Not dissension, but debate. Let’s talk some racing, and have fun doing it. Who should make up that magical first honor roll? What should the determining factors be?
Certainly, every person on this list will eventually make it into the NASCAR Hall of Fame at some point. That’s just about the only sure thing about this process. But with a limit of five inductees per year, who goes in the first time out and who doesn’t?
Here's the list, and our odds on who'll be the first five legends enshrined in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Bobby Allison: 5-1
B.A. had a career very similar on the track to Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough, but all three won't be included in the inaugural class. And if all three can't go in the first time around, none of them should.
Buck Baker: 10-1
His success was probably too far in the distant pass to make an impact on current NHOF voters.
Red Byron: 5-1
His case will be helped by Neal Thompson's excellent book, "Driving With The Devil."
Richard Childress: 20-1
His first-class ticket goes to Dale Earnhardt.
Dale Earnhardt: Even
He'll go in first time out. Bank on it. If he doesn’t, would you want to be the one to try to explain the snub to Earnhardt Nation?
Richie Evans: 15-1
Being the greatest Modified driver who ever lived probably won't be enough to get Evans into the first class. Also, if Evans goes in as a superstar of the Modified tour, what do you do with Busch Series legends Jack Ingram, Sam Ard and Tommy Houston?
Tim Flock: 10-1
See Buck Baker.
Bill France Jr.: 3-1
His contributions are undeniable, but it would be unfair for two members of the France family to take up first-class spots. Here’s a thought. Induct the France family as a whole. Maybe? Maybe not?
Bill France Sr.: 1-100
The NASCAR Hall of Fame will not open its doors without "Big Bill" as one of its first inductees.
Rick Hendrick: 20-1
A legendary car owner, yes, but too many other historic figures in line ahead of him for inclusion in the NHOF's first class.
Ned Jarrett: 15-1
See Buck Baker and Tim Flock.
Junior Johnson: 4-1
He SHOULD go in the first time around, but will he?
Bud Moore: 12-1
Don't know that enough people know about his accomplishments to vote him in this time.
Raymond Parks: 5-1
Like Byron, who drove for Parks, his case will very much be helped by Thompson's book.
Benny Parsons: 15-1
Not quite enough of an on-track resume to warrant first-class induction.
David Pearson: 2-1
105 wins. Enough said.
Lee Petty: 8-1
It's not the Petty Hall of Fame, so if only one Petty family member makes it, Richard gets the nod.
Richard Petty: 1-100
If Richard Petty is not a member of the first class, the NHOF is discredited forever. Trust us … it won’t be.
Fireball Roberts: 9-1
Probably more name recognition than Buck Baker and Tim Flock, but not enough.
Herb Thomas: 10-1
Another legend whose success is too long removed from the voting process.
Curtis Turner: 9-1
Right there with Roberts ... hard to make a case for one over the other.
Darrell Waltrip: 5-1
If D.W. goes in before Allison and Yarborough, it'll be because of his work on television ... and that ain't right.
Joe Weatherly: 9-1
See Roberts. See Turner.
Glen Wood: 12-1
His spot will go to the drivers who drove his cars, like Pearson.
Cale Yarborough: 5-1
He’ll be a member of the NHOF, but probably not this time.