NASCAR’s first Hall class should have been larger

Published 12:04 am Saturday, October 17, 2009

The inaugural class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame was announced this week, and the first five chosen offered no surprises. The first class of the new Hall of Fame include Bill France, Bill France Jr., Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, and Junior Johnson.

Considering the 50-year history of NASCAR and the truly outstanding performers through the years, this first class should have included more than five inductees. Though there is no way to argue against any of the five chosen for this class, other candidates would have been just as deserving.

If this first class would have been say, 10, instead of five, how about including David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, Fireball Roberts, and Darrell Waltrip? I don’t see how you could argue against any of those guys, just as is the case with the five that were chosen.

In NASCAR’s officially announced selection process, each year only five inductees will be selected. Those five will be chosen from a maximum field of 25 nominated candidates. There is a nominating committee that consists of 20 members that will select the list of candidates, and then a 47-member voting committee will choose the five inductees.

To be eligible for induction, a driver must have competed for 10 years and be retired from competition for three years. Any non-driver nominee must have spent at least 10 years working in the NASCAR ranks.

Because of the tremendous list of deserving drivers and owners, the non-driver inductees will be minimal for the first few years. But, choosing those non-driver candidates should be interesting. Think of engine builders, crew chiefs, pit crew members or media members. Guys like Smokey Yunick, Dale Inman, Chocolate Myers, or David Poole. None of these guys competed on the track, but each had a huge influence in the history and legacy of NASCAR.

Jimmie Johnson won last week at California and jumped Mark Martin to take a 12-point lead going into Lowe’s Motor Speedway Saturday night.

But, I don’t think he wins Saturday night. I think his car owner and teammate, Jeff Gordon, takes the checkers at Lowe’s and makes the Chase interesting down the stretch.