Waltrip, Yarborough hear beckon of NASCAR's hall
Recognition extends to modified champ Evans
Wednesday, Jun. 15, 2011
The NASCAR Hall of Fame's Class of 2012 is built on pure performance.
The hall's third class, announced Tuesday, includes two of the most dominating drivers at the sport's highest level - Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip. Another - Richie Evans - won so many races in NASCAR's modified series that somebody lost count along the way.
Then there are talented and innovative leaders in the pits and the garage - crew chief Dale Inman and owner Glen Wood.
"I like this class," said Waltrip, whose 84 Cup victories in 1972-2000 are tied for third all-time with Jeff Gordon and Bobby Allison (who was inducted last month). "I like it a lot."
The hall used its first two classes to not only honor the sport's top drivers - seven of them, including Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, David Pearson and Allison. But there also was a sense of honoring the past by including founder Bill France Sr., and his successor and son Bill France Jr.
One of this year's inductees, Ned Jarrett, was honored as much for his work as a television announcer as a driver.
But the 2012 group is all about racing achievement and numbers.
"This one certainly has a 'hall of fame' feel to it," said NASCAR President Mike Helton.
Only Petty and Pearson won more races than Waltrip, and Yarborough is sixth all-time. As Petty's crew chief, Inman helped win seven Cup titles and won another with Terry Labonte.
His work ethic and vision of what a crew chief should be is the standard by which the job is measured today.
Wood, who has partnered with brother Leonard to form the legendary Wood Brothers Racing team, helped pioneer how crucial pit crews are to a team's operation today.
The Wood Brothers were the first to really understand how important it is to get cars into and out of the pits as fast as possible. The Wood Brothers have been in operation since 1950; the team won this year's Daytona 500 with rookie Trevor Bayne driving.
There reportedly was talk among the 55-member voting panel - which voted Tuesday - that Glen Wood should be inducted only if brother Leonard went along with him.
"If you're pairing up, then you can argue that Dale Inman should go in with Richard Petty," said Helton, who is on the panel. "But it's the individual who contributes. That may be part of an organization and another had high influence there, too.
"And that person should get his due respect as well, at some point. But I think the hall of fame is about individuals."
Evans won nine NASCAR modified titles in 13 years, including eight in a row in 1978-85. According to NASCAR, he won an "estimated" 475 races in an "estimated" 1,300 starts before dying in a crash at Martinsville, Va., in 1985.
His induction also shows the hall will honor those who didn't only race at NASCAR's highest levels.
"It shows how respectful we are of our heritage in short tracks and the modified series," said Helton. "Richie was very much the face of that."