NASCAR Hall of Fame: Waltrip, Yarborough and the 2012 Class
The NASCAR Hall of Fame inducted its third class of Hall of Famers on Sunday in Charlotte.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame was just recently formed in 2009 and has a maximum of five inductees per year. If it was an entity before then, the current inductees, as well as past inductees, would have surely been in well before now.
The 2012 class of Hall of Famers include Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, Dale Inman, Glenn Wood and the late Richie Evans.
Each of these inductees contributed to the sport in their own special way. Yarborough and Waltrip were championship drivers on the top level of the sport with six championships and 167 race wins between them.
Even though Cale Yarborough ran races in 31 years for NASCAR’s top level, his career really wasn’t long. Yarborough ran only eight years of full-time racing. Those years ranged from 1973 to 1980.
In that time, Cale Yarborough was nearly unstoppable, posting a winning percentage of 26.6 percent with 55 wins and also capturing 158 top-fives in that span. He tallied three consecutive Winston Cup Championships (‘76,’77,’78), as well as three runner-up finishes (‘73,’74,’80) in the standings to drivers with names of Parsons, Petty and Earnhardt.
Darrell Waltrip had a colorful career, to say the least. Tagged as “Jaws” by fellow Hall of Fame inductee Cale Yarborough, Waltrip was the winner of the 1981, 1982 and 1985 Championships and was the runner-up in 1979, 1983 and 1986. He didn’t finish runner-up to any slouches either. They were three drivers you may know: Richard Petty, Bobby Allison and Dale Earnhardt, all whom were already inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Another championship driver inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame was the late Richie Evans. A legend in NASCAR’s modified series, Evans amassed nine championships, including eight consecutive from 1978 to 1985. Richie Evans passed away in his final season after clinching the championship in Turn 3 at Martinsville speedway on October 24, 1985.
Glen Wood, a great driver in his own right, is better known for the racing team he made famous, Wood Brothers Racing. The team dates back to 1950, as does its flagship No. 21. They won six times at the Daytona 500 and accumulated a total of 96 victories from a list of well-known drivers in the sport, including Curtis Turner, Marvin Panch, Fireball Roberts, Tiny Lund, Buddy Baker, Junior Johnson and Cale Yarborough, just to name a few.
Finally we have the first crew chief inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Dale Inman. Without Dale Inman, “The King” may have not been “The King.” Inman won eight championships as crew chief. He led Petty Enterprises' No. 43 team to seven and Terry Labonte to one after leaving Petty Enterprises in 1984. Inman won nearly 200 races in his career and revolutionized the crew chief position by starting driver to pit communications.
Who is most deserving to be inducted in 2013?
While the third class of Hall of Famers was prominent in the history of NASCAR, there are still some well-known important figures still to be inducted. Names like Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Buck Baker, Red Byron, Joe Weatherly, Curtis Turner and Herb Thomas quickly come to mind. The 2013 class’ five members should not disappoint with prestige and importance to the history of NASCAR.
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