NASCAR HOF's first class of inductees a “No Brainer,” and that’s not a compliment!
Well, it was just a matter of time until I put forth my “$1.87” worth of opinion about the first “class” of NASCAR Hall of Fame (HOF) inductees.
About one year ago, I discovered Bleacher Report. An article by Nate Powers is what caused me to join Bleacher Report:
NASCAR's Hall Of Fame To Open In 2010 by Nate Powers http://bleacherreport.com/articles/56912-nascars-hall-of-fame-to-open-in-2010
This inspired my first ever work here at B/R:
NASCAR Hall of Fame Nominees: Richard Petty, David Pearson, and...? http://bleacherreport.com/articles/57679-nascar-hall-of-fame-nominees-richard-petty-david-pearson-and
That started my string of articles, most of which have a historical "bent". After all, I love racing, and I love history, so when the two come together…well, you’ve got my attention!
But to my point: four of the five members of the first "class" of inductees were a “No Brainer.” The inaugural class includes: Dale Earnhardt, Bill France, Bill France Jr., Junior Johnson, and Richard Petty.
Dale Earnhardt, Bill France, Bill France Jr., and Richard Petty, were the "no brainer" picks, I felt, if the inductees were picked solely by the fan vote. But the fan vote was only one component of the process, so I was hopeful.
I was hopeful, but not very, that the voters on the selection committee would, at minimum not pick “Bill Jr.” to the Hall on this first ballot. Yes, I know: “What were you thinking?”
Honestly, with only five spots "available" it meant that, in reality, only one person would be truly "voted-in". I felt that the two Frances, along with Richard and Iron-head were "locks" as soon as the pool of nominees was announced.
In my most recent article: NASCAR Hall of Fame: My Comments on the Nominees and the Process (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/239046-nascar-hall-of-fame-my-comments-on-the-nominees-and-the-process ), I mentioned a [minimum] two "wing" HOF.
I feel that if the hall had two “wings,” that this would give the Hall a better, more representative, first “class” [at least]. With two “wings”, a maximum limit could be set at five for each “wing”, with no minimum for each “class.”
If the Hall was to be in the format as announced, at minimum, this first “class” should have been set for 10 people, and then the arbitrary five person figure could take effect in subsequent elections.
Why? Well, for the very reason that has inspired me to write: too many people to consider because the nominating committee did a great job, for the most part.
To quote the induction press release from NASCAR:
“ The nominees included many of the sport's legendary names:
Bobby Allison, Buck Baker, Red Byron, Richard Childress, Dale Earnhardt, Richie Evans, Tim Flock, Bill France Jr., Bill France, Rick Hendrick, Ned Jarrett, Junior Johnson, Bud Moore, Raymond Parks, Benny Parsons, David Pearson, Lee Petty, Richard Petty, Fireball Roberts, Herb Thomas, Curtis Turner, Darrell Waltrip, Joe Weatherly, Glen Wood and Cale Yarborough.”
I, for one, was a bit surprised that Richie Evans was among the nominees; but I felt it was a great pick, and it made me hopeful that the first “class” would be a bit more varied than I feared it might be.
However, I don't believe that all of the 25 in the first "pool" deserve to be in the HOF.
For example: Benny Parsons was a nice man, a great representative for the sport, and a beloved race commentator. However, I feel that he was not one of the top drivers of his era, which I would define as the drivers that everyone feels will be in contention for each race. He was certainly a second tier driver, one who could "grab" an occasional victory from the "big boys".
Certainly the "Pioneers" should be in, and so, NASCAR should have honored them by "Getting Them In" the first “class" of inductees.
Red Byron should be in. He was the first Champion, twice. The fact that Red was not a bootlegger, when most drivers [and Red’s owner] were involved in bootlegging (the training ground for so many drivers and mechanics), says a lot for his skill.
Raymond Parks should be in. The first Championship owner [twice!], and he showed everyone how the sport, the teams, and the officials, how it should be done: with class.
To see my comments on both Parks and Byron see my article:
Raymond Parks: NASCAR's Double Inaugural Championship Car Owner
I continue to believe that a Hall of Fame with two wings is the way to go.
The official NASCAR release also said:
“As part of the inclusive voting process, more than 670,000 NASCAR fans submitted votes online at NASCAR.COM as part of the fan voting process. This remarkable fan feedback once again demonstrates fans' passion and knowledge of the sport and its heritage. The fans voted Petty, Earnhardt, France, Yarborough and Allison as their top five.”
At this point I must admit that the fans surprised me, and the choices they made were not bad at all.
That press release comment “Also receiving votes were David Pearson , Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison ,” (referring to those who did not get in the HOF in this first "class"), is where the controversy really begins.
Most of the comments I’ve seen here, and at many internet sites, have been comments to the effect:”What about David Pearson?” and I must agree. David Pearson should have been in that first “class”.
[In the interest of full disclosure: I am a fan of David Pearson, having watched him win in the 1960's.]
Since I felt there was only one true "open spot", I was curious to see who would be in that final spot. I was a bit surprised that Junior Johnson was the choice.
However, Junior Johnson was an excellent choice, considering his status as one of the top drivers in his era, and he then became one of the top owners. His was a truly unique career.
In conclusion, I feel that of the first inductees into the HOF Junior Johnson was the only individual truly voted into the Hall.
Comparison of the selections made by the fans versus the final group selected, shows that this is one time where the fans showed better selection abilities than the so-called experts.