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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Here's who the top-25 nominees for NASCAR's Hall of Fame should be

The NASCAR Hall of Fame process begins this Thursday with the announcement of the first set of nominees -- 25 names, from which five will be chosen this fall to join the first class to be inducted into the Hall.

Here’s my choice of who should be included on the list of 25, and which 5 should make it into the first round of inductees. (For the record, I did not consider anyone still active in the sport. Their time will come in the future.)

TOP 5:
Richard Petty – The King, 200 wins, 7 titles. That’s good enough for me.
Dale Earnhardt – The Intimidator, 76 wins, 7 titles. Might have passed Petty in total titles if he hadn’t passed on.
David Pearson – In my opinion, Pearson is the most talented driver of all time. If he had been full-time every year, he would have a lot more than the 105 wins and three titles he has. The record books would look a lot different.
Big Bill France – Without him, there is no series … he has to be inducted.
Junior Johnson – Famous for his moonshining past, Johnson never won a title while driving … but he has 50 wins as a driver and 139 as an owner. I’d say that’s Hall of Fame material.

The rest (in no particular order):
Darrell Waltrip
… Say what you want about DW as an announcer, but no one can deny his skill on the track, where he won three titles and ticked off a lot of competitors in the process with his often-antagonistic comments.
Cale Yarborough … Three straight titles is an amazing accomplishment, especially in a sport as competitive as NASCAR. Also a master strategist.
Bobby Allison … A man who has seen too much tragedy in his life (including the death of two sons), on the track Bobby was a force to be reckoned with. He finally claimed that elusive title in 1983, and won 84 races.
Lee Petty … Before Richard became The King, his dad claimed three titles in the 1950s. Despite not getting into racing until age 35, Lee Petty will be remembered as a great talent and pioneer of the sport.
Red Byron … First-ever series champion.
Tim Flock … The most famous Flock brother won two titles and was among the first to be banned by NASCAR. Famously drove with a monkey in his car.
Dave Marcis … The Ironman from Wisconsin raced for 35 years and claimed 5 wins, but his real accomplishment is standing as the ultimate example of a little team that always tries to compete with the big boys, no matter how long the odds.
Joe Weatherly … Ex-motorcycle champ moved over to NASCAR and claimed two titles. Ended up dying when his head left the car during a wreck … ushering in the era of the window net.
Buck Baker … Won two Cup titles, and even won the 1952 title in the short-lived “Speedway Division”, which featured open-wheel cars with stock engines. First back-to-back title winner.
Herb Thomas … “Fabulous Hudson Hornet” driver among the biggest stars of the first years of NASCAR.
Davey Allison … Bobby’s son tragically left us too soon … he was on a path to become one of the greats, and could have been a championship 15. contender for many years.
Harry Gant … Handsome Harry is most famous for his four straight Cup wins in 1991, but he had great runs regularly throughout his decades-long career.
Alan Kulwicki … Last owner-driver to claim the title, in 1992, killed the next year in a plane crash. He was not an easy man to work for, but that focus on perfection led him to an unlikely championship.
Wendell Scott … Only black driver ever to win at the Cup level, he endured so much racism over the years, both on and off the track, yet never let that stop him from racing. A truly inspirational man who also could drive a car pretty well.
Ned Jarrett … Learned to drive at age 9. Good move by his dad, as he went on to win 2 titles and become a great race announcer after retiring.

Bill France Jr. – Led NASCAR as it made its march into the mainstream of American sports.
T. Wayne Robertson -- President of sports marketing for cigarette maker and Cup series sponsor R.J. Reynolds, helped grow Nascar from a regional sport into an international success.
Smokey Yunick – Legendary engine builder, mechanic and team owner … mastered the art of using gray areas to get around NASCAR rules
Harry Hyde – Regarded by many as the greatest crew chief of all time.
Glen and Leonard Wood (Wood Brothers Racing) – This team is a key part of NASCAR history, and has been involved in some of the biggest moments in the sport, not to mention inventing the modern-day pit stop. They deserve recognition.


Blogger dawg said...

My nominee would be Carl Keahaufer.
Not only was he the visionary, who set the stage for Hendrick, Roush, & the other mega team owners, but he was also willing to back his bet with his own money.
He might have been the first to recognize that NASCAR could sell something besides automobile related products. All that, & from a yankee too!

July 1, 2009 at 6:29 PM 
Blogger Matt Myftiu said...

Re: Dawg

He was on my short list, but I cut him at the last minute. His time in the sport was very short, but he made a great impact.

July 1, 2009 at 6:33 PM 

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