Wednesday, October 13, 2010

David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Lee Petty, Ned Jarrett and Bud Moore Enter NASCAR Hall-of-Fame: Our Thoughts

Let the debates begin. The select committee has made its decision for who will be the next five inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. They are: David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Ned Jarrett, Lee Petty, and Bud Moore. All five men are highly deserving and surely no one would have said “if’ but only “when.”

Surely, there was no doubt David Pearson and Bobby Allison would be in the second class of inductees. With 105 wins and three championships, Pearson is second only to Richard Petty in wins and no retired driver has more than three championships aside from Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. Bobby Allison was third in wins at 85 but only had one championship blocked out by the Petty’s, Pearson’s, Waltrip’s and even Dale Earnhardt in his career.

There could be an uproar that neither Darrell Waltrip nor Cale Yarborough made the cut. They stand 4th and 5th in all-time wins and each has three championships.

Lee Petty is a compelling choice. Though Waltrip and Yarborough have more wins (as does Rusty Wallace), his 54 wins puts him in 9th on the wins list. He is the only other driver with three championships. He also won the first Daytona 500 and was a major figure in developing the popularity and integrity of the sport. No doubt, he got a few bonus points for being a good dad.

Ned Jarrett is one of seven drivers with two championships. Tony Stewart is the only active driver with two career cups. Jarrett's  50 wins ties him with Junior Johnson for 11th on the winners list. Besides his accomplishments on the track, Jarrett retired at the end of the 1966 season, his second championship, at only 34 years old. From there, he worked as a promoter for Hickory Motor Speedway before becoming one of NASCAR’s most respected broadcasters first on radio for MRN then on television for CBS and ESPN. Like Lee Petty, he sired a NASCAR Champion, his son, Dale, who is now an ESPN analyst like his dad.

Bud Moore might not be a familiar name with today’s fans but should be. He was a highly successful crew chief and owner instrumental for benefitting the careers of some of NASCAR’s most successful drivers. Early in his career, he was crew chief for 1957 champ, Buck Baker. Soon he turned owner, guiding Joe Weatherly to consecutive championships in 1962 and 1963. Here are Bud Moore’s NASCAR alumni: Buddy Baker, Bobby Allison, Fireball Roberts, Darel Dieringer, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Isaac, Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip, Donnie Allison, Geoff Bodine, Ricky Rudd, Brett Bodine, and Morgan Shepherd.

During 37 years as a car owner, Bud Moore won 63 races and 43 poles. For fans from his era, it’s hard not to think of Bud Moore’s legacy when a car sports his familiar #15, a number Dale Earnhardt used with extreme reverence when he added a #15 team at DEI for Michael Waltrip.

The third class of inductees has two obvious choices: Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip both three time champs who spent some of their best years driving for Junior Johnson.

Beyond that, the next driver in line on the winner’s list would be Rusty Wallace, surely a good choice, but his time might have to wait for more historic figures. We feel all drivers with more than 40 or more wins should be in the Hall. Mark Martin stands at 39 cup wins but with his victories in the Nationwide Series and contributions to the sport, he should be selected after he retires. All drivers with two or more championships seem logical fits too; however, Terry Labonte has only 22 Cup victories. Joe Weatherly has 25.

So here’s our drivers’ list and their accomplishments. These drivers should all be inducted into the Hall of Fame in the next few groups.

Darrell Waltrip, 84 wins, 3 championships
Cale Yarborough, 83 wins, 3 championships
Rusty Wallace, 55 wins, one championship
Herb Thomas, 48 wins, 2 championships
Buck Baker, 46 wins, 2 championships
Tim Flock, 40 wins, 2 championships
Joe Weatherly, 24 wins, 2 championships
Terry Labonte, 21 wins, 2 championships

Crew chiefs who surely deserve election:
Dale Inman – Richard Petty’s cousin and chief, seven championships for Petty, 1984 championship for Terry Labonte, five Daytona 500’s.

Leonard Wood – Most accomplished of the “legendary” Wood Brothers and is considered orchestrator of the modern pit stop assigning rolls much as there are employed today. As co-owner of the “legendary” Wood Brothers team, he worked with David Pearson from 1972-1979. Leonard Wood guided four drivers to Daytona 500 wins: Tiny Lund, Cale Yarborough, David Pearson, and A.J. Foyt.

Harry Hyde – was a top crew chief for more than two decades. Hyde learned mechanics from serving in the Army and served NASCAR top drivers, Bobby Isaac (1970 championship) and others including: Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough, Neil Bonnett, Dave Marcis, and Tim Richmond. He served as the model for Robert Duvall’s portrayal of a NASCAR crew chief in “Days of Thunder.” He won 57 races as a crew chief.

Ray Evernham – worked with Jeff Gordon from his first full season in Busch competition into the glory days of his NASCAR career including three of four championships. Together they won 47 races. He helped write the Hendrick book on how to run successful race crews and tutored a young Chad Knaus who served on the Gordon crew. Evernham was recruited by Dodge to serve as an owner and developer of Chrysler’s return to NASCAR in 2001.

Kirk Shelmerdine – deserves credit working with Dale Earnhardt for four of his seven championships, 1986-1992, and 46 wins. He’s also tried his hand as a driver.

Waddell Wilson – as noteworthy as an engine builder as crew chief, he worked for Holman Moody and Hendrick Motor Sports serving a host of top drivers including: Bobby Allison, Mario Andretti, Buddy Baker, Geoff Bodine, A.J. Foyt, Junior Johnson, Fred Lorenzen, Cale Yarborough, and Ricky Rudd.

Jeff Hammond – worked his way up the ranks in Junior Johnson’s organization helping lead Darrell Waltrip to his 1985 championship. Responsible for 43 wins, he worked with Hendrick, Felix Sabates, and Jack Roush. He is now a popular broadcaster for Fox Network’s NASCAR coverage and SpeedTV.

Many other figures deserve consideration for their contributions to NASCAR including track owners and promoters, broadcasters, journalists, and car owners. Some of the first names that come to mind are:

Humpy Wheeler – long time promoter of Charlotte Motor Speedway instrumental in making the All-Star race a success and helping many drivers find their way to NASCAR success.

Bruton Smith – President/CEO of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. Smith is a long time track owner originally associated with Charlotte and Atlanta, but now has a growing empire including Texas, Bristol, Kentucky, Las Vegas, Sears Point (Infineon), and New Hampshire.

Ken Squire – Perhaps the grand daddy of NASCAR on TV, a former track owner and promoter, Squire broadcast the Daytona 500 from its first broadcast in 1979 into the 1980’s. Squire actively promoted and expanded NASCAR broadcasting and served as play-by-play for CBS and TBS.

Rick Hendrick, Jack Roush, and Richard Childress – multi championship owners who contributed significantly to NASCAR. Body of work extends back far enough to be considered for prompt inclusion. Joe Gibbs is a definite “someday” candidate.

The drivers and other figures are simply the ones that come to mind for this writer and should not be considered a definitive list. Surely, there are figures like Sam Ard and Jack Ingram who perhaps need mention for their Busch/Nationwide significance. Drivers with a successful portfolio across NASCAR series deserve consideration as well.

We welcome our readers’ suggestions for inclusion and comments about the figures we selected.


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