BACK IN THE DAY
First, I would like to thank Kristi, Marlisa and Andrew at Talladega Superspeedway for faxing me a list of the nominees for the 2010 induction into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
When I look at the picture in this article, I see men who helped the sport of automobile racing get to where it is today. Most are retired, one is not with us anymore and a few are still active.
There on the end of the front row, sits a man who seems to be non existent. He is small in stature at 5' 4" and 135 pounds, but a giant in Nascar's record book.
That man is Rex White and next year will be the 50th Anniversary of his winning the 1960 Nascar Grand National Championship. I met Rex when I was twelve years old and he treated me like his son.
My grandfather was a retired railroad engineer and his long time friend, Alf Knight, had taken on the task of building Atlanta International Raceway
Anyone who knew Alf knows how hard he worked to build and then run the race track in Hampton, GA. It was through Alf that I meet White.
White was the reining champion of Nascars top series back in 1961. He put me in the back of his pick-up truck and drove by the gates and into the garage area at AIR.
Holy s___, I was talking to some of the greatest drivers in Nascar history. In the day when Fireball Roberts wore a black Winn's Friction Proofing jacket, Fast Freddie Lorenzen had a satin silver Pure Oil jacket and the legendary Curtis Turner wore his familiar black leather motorcycle jacket with the collar turned up.
These were THE MEN that drove almost purely stock automobiles over 160 miles per hour wearing t-shirts and jeans.
In today's Nascar, the car either has a cut tire or the tire has irregular wear. The drivers can feel a tire losing air, but the inner liners let them get back to pit road.
Back in the day, you would hear a sound like a shotgun going off and look in the direction of the noise to see a car spinning or actually going over the guard rail. I witnessed Paul Goldsmith going out of AIR in the mid sixties.
This story is about a man who overcame Polio as a child and then lived his dream of driving a race car.
That man is White. It has been over 42 years since White gave me a job at a local car dealership.
I have followed Nascar and most other forms of auto racing for 49 years and ever since I became disabled from blotched spinal surgery in 2006, all I could do was sit on the sofa and read on the Internet.
Last month, I decided to call White and see how he was doing. He said he was still very active, so I said that I wanted to be a part of his Golden Anniversary. He said fine, just stay away from Nascar.
Stay away from Nascar? This was a man who in the years 1959 thru 1963 won 28 races in his Gold and White #4 Chevrolet Impala.
More than Lee Petty, Richard Petty, Fireball Roberts, Joe Weatherly, Curtis Turner or any other driver in the sport!
A man who won a Championship and was voted Nascar's Most Popular Driver in the same year! Only six other drivers can say that they did it.
At 79 years old, White is the oldest living member of Nascar's 50 Greatest Drivers and is still in the top 25 of Nascar's winning-est drivers with 28 wins.
And yet here is a man that has never been voted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame on the grounds of Talladega Superspeedway.
If you haven't been to the museum there, make plans to do so, as it is full of history from Back in the day to the current era.
You will see winning race cars, wrecked race cars and historical race cars, plus a lot of special exhibits including a race car simulator.
There were four pages of names for the class of 2010 and White had page No. 4 all by himself.
I thought wouldn't it be fitting to induct him into the IMHOF 50 years after his Nascar Championship.
I wish I could send this article to every voting member, but that is not possible.
What is possible, is for the voting members of the Hall of Fame to vote White in while he is still active and can enjoy it.
The sport owes it to him!