Five more NASCAR greats inducted into Hall of Fame
Evans, Inman, Waltrip, Yarborough, Wood are 2012's inductees.
Friday, Jan. 20, 2012
It was a night to honor some of NASCAR's most famous names, a group which formed the cornerstone of the on-track success that propelled NASCAR into the national spotlight.
Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, Richie Evans, Dale Inman and Glen Wood - either as owner, driver or crew chief - account for more than 535 victories in what is now the Sprint Cup Series.
Their accomplishments stretch from the first days of NASCAR to the present and, each has left an indelible mark on the sport to which they have devoted their lives.
Friday night, the five men became the most recent inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which opened in uptown Charlotte in 2010.
"The kind of numbers and kind of performances that all five of our recipients tonight show you that at any given moment of their career, they were the best at what they were doing," NASCAR chairman Brian France said.
Waltrip won 84 races, 59 poles and three Cup titles. Inman won eight Cup titles as a crew chief, including seven with his cousin Richard "The King" Petty, who was part of the Hall's inaugural class.
Yarborough was the first driver to win three consecutive championships. Wood won four races as a driver and 98 as a car owner with Wood Brothers Racing. Evans won nine modified titles during a 13-year span - the first driver inducted not to compete in NASCAR's premier series.
Waltrip, Yarborough, Inman and Wood were on hand for Friday night's ceremony. Evans was killed in a wreck in 1985 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, but several members of his family were on hand.
Petty inducted Inman to the Hall. "Where Dale was so good, he was good with people. He knew how far he could take someone's talent," Petty said.
Leonard Wood inducted his older brother, Glen, into the Hall. As he put the Hall of Fame ring on his brother's finger, Leonard quipped, "This is a long way from the cornfields."
Glen Wood recounted his family's history in NASCAR, from competitors to owners.
"This is about two families - the Wood family and the Ford family - which has resulted in me being here tonight," he said.
Billy Nacewitz, who served as crew chief for Evans in the modified series, inducted Evans into the Hall. Evans' widow, Lynn Evans, accepted the induction on her late husband's behalf.
Lynn Evans thanked the Hall voters for "stepping outside the box" in nominating her late husband.
"You have now given hope to thousands of competitors throughout the country to maybe somebody reach their dreams," she said.
Longtime motorsports broadcast Ken Squier inducted Yarborough into the Hall.
"Cale elected to take his risks a little different from his family and neighbors," Squier said. "He was, and still is today, the real deal."
"I didn't get here by myself," Yarborough said, thanking his wife of 53 years, Betty Jo.
Yarborough compared racing to a long, tough ladder. "I feel like tonight I am finally standing on the top step," he said. "This is as high as you can go but they can't knock me down."
Waltrip, who serves as a TV analyst for Fox Sports' NASCAR broadcasts, was inducted by his former crew chief and Fox broadcast partner, Jeff Hammond.
"Our sport had never seen the likes of Darrell Waltrip - on or off the track," Hammond said. "His rapid-fire wit off the track was only exceeded by his talent on the track."
Waltrip got very emotional during his acceptance speech.
"This is a red-letter night," he said. "Bobby Allison said I should be in the Hall of Fame. Does anybody know how big that is? And he swore to me nobody held a gun to his head."