Reader Agrees … Kinda … That BA Should Have 85 Wins
Hey Rick, great article on Bobby's 85th win. But the possibility of getting them to admit that Bobby won the race is as likely as getting them to finally recognize Fonty Flock as the 1947 NASCAR champion (which Big Bill did in all the 1948 NASCAR publicity), or admit that if it wasn't for Raymond Parks, Big Bill would have been broke and working back at that
Harry Hyde Remembered ...
I befriended Harry Hyde in the late 1970s, when I bought a Chrysler Kit Car from him, that I raced out here as a late model. I was with him and the crew at the Richmond race a week after Daytona in about 1977. As they pushed the car towards the scales during the inspection process, Harry told Tommy Johnson and Buddy Parrot, “When we get on the scales, I'll distract the inspector and I need you guys to lean on the left rear quarter, otherwise, we aren’t gonna be legal!”
Those were the days!
We were given something very interesting to mull over this week, with Rick Houston’s article showing what many people in the sport feel should be the first class into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
It should come to no surprise that Richard Petty is the only unanimous choice of those polled. The lone exception might be those pundits 25 years or younger who don’t seem to understand that there was, in fact, racing before Dale Earnhardt.
What it proves to me, however, is the need to step beyond the norm for the first class. With so many deserving drivers over a 60 year span, if you only do four inductees per year, that could leave some drivers who have been away from racing for decades never getting in, as the NASCAR PR machine continues to focus only on what occurred after 1979.
Actually, let me rectify that. The inductees should go back more than NASCAR’s 60 years, and honor those who drove before there was a NASCAR for Bill France, Sr., such as the late Lloyd Seay. Seay was one of the top draws for France’s stock car circuit before World War II, and likely would have been a major force to be reckoned with after the war. Unfortunately, Seay was killed in September of 1941, murdered by a cousin in a dispute over sugar for the family moonshine still.
At Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s memorial service in 2001, Bill France Jr. was asked who was the greatest driver of all time, and he immediately answered “Lloyd Seay.” That’s high praise, and it’s something that should be looked into for the Hall.
Regardless, Buz McKim and the folks at the Hall will have a tough chore to do when it comes to figuring out the induction process. I’d like to offer a suggestion.
Why not take a look at the inductees at various racing and sports hall of fames around the country, such as the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Hall of Fame and the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame (whom, in the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit I do volunteer work for). Look at who they have honored, and put together a larger “inaugural class” of drivers whose merits go above and beyond the question of “are they hall of fame material?”
One of the criteria for this could be to set a date that the inaugural class would have had to participated prior to. For example, to be considered in the inaugural class, you would have had to have driven prior to 1972. That would give a good range for those who deserve to be recognized from the beginning.
Otherwise, as I said, it may be another 50 years before men like Herb Thomas, Red Byron, Marshall Teague or even Fireball Roberts are recognized, because there would be too much focus on the last 20 years, which gets far more exposure.
Let’s be honest here, folks. I could walk up to a pretty girl at a race track and ask “Would you like to meet 1960 Sprint Cup champ Rex White,” and would probably be stared at like I was from another planet. If I replaced Rex’s name with that of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. or Kasey Kahne, the reaction would probably be more of a squealing sound, followed by the young lady jumping up and down with what can only be described as a religious fervor. How fair could voting be with that kind of atmosphere?
Along with that first “expanded class”, you could also do a vote-in, such as Rick Houston showed in his polling this week. That way, every era has an honest chance of being represented.
That’s my greatest fear with this Hall of Fame, folks. I don’t want to see the people upon whose backs this sport was built from the ground up ignored so that the latest and greatest can be plastered on a few more corn flakes boxes. The purpose of this hall of fame should be to honor those who gave everything they had so that the fans could be entertained on Sunday afternoon. For far too long, people like Fonty Flock, Raymond Parks, Joe Weatherly, Banjo Matthews and Darel Dieringer have been pushed to the back, or to the ground so that NASCAR could promote it’s newest stars.
Enough already. Give these men and women their due. It’s long past time to do so.
One last thing – Rick didn’t ask my opinion, but I figure as long as I’m giving it anyway, here are my five picks, in no particular order: Richard Petty, Tim Flock, Curtis Turner, Fireball Roberts and Raymond Parks.
Just remember it’s not supposed to be a popularity contest. It’s supposed to be a way to honor those who got you where you are.
Reader Says That Inaugural HOF Class Should Include Greats Of Modified, Late Model Sportsman Series, Too
As a person who first purchased my NASCAR License when Big Bill was still running things, I think you and the rest of your voters missed the name of the Hall. It is the NASCAR Hall of Fame, not the Cup Hall of Fame. NASCAR, the sanctioning body, was not built by the Cup Series. It was built by its original two series, the Modified and the Sportsman. Cup was the third series of NASCAR and could not pay the bills until the 1980s.
For that reason, it is not a NASCAR Hall of Fame if the men with the most win and most championships in each of the first three series of NASCAR are not included. The first class should be:
Modified: Richie Evans The only nine-time champion in NASCAR History and the best driver. He beat them all wherever he went, including DW and other Cup drivers at Daytona The modifieds were the founding division of NASCAR. In fact without the people who started in the modified division, Cup would not be what it is today.
Sportsman: Jack Ingram He beat all of the Cup drivers of his day and many people are where they are at because of the Iron Man.
Cup: Richard Petty, only because of 200 wins and seven championships. David Pearson is the best Cup driver and seecond-best driver in NASCAR history. All you need to know is he drove only three complete seasons and he was champion each time.
Bill France Sr.: He organized everyone, but he was not the only founder of NASCAR. Many people invested in the beginning, but he did pull it all together.
Roger Bear: Without Roger, there is no RJ Reynolds and NASCAR never get to where it is at today.
There is one other person that needs to be included, but you did say five, so I will just leave you with this little bit of information. It was Big Bob O’Rourke who had the connection to keep RJR in the sport when they were taken over by KKR. If O’Rourke was not able to accomplish this, NASCAR is out of business and gone. Without the RJR money back in those years they were bankrupt. O’Rourke saved them from that.
Robert A. Wilson,
He’s Baaaaaaaack … Reader Brandon Reed
Says This Site’s Hall Of Fame Survey Results
Didn’t Go Far Enough In Honoring Sport’s Past