If you look at the list of finalist for the 2011 NASCAR Hall of Fame class you see a wide variety of NASCAR personalities.
You will see some of the original NASCAR stars like Ned Jarrett, Curtis Turner and Fireball Roberts.
There is also promoter T. Wayne Robertson who probably had more impact on NASCAR than any other non driver.
You have some of the best to ever turn a wrench, such like Dale Inman.
Some of the most successful car owners in NASCAR history are there as well ,Raymond Parks, Rick Hendrick, Richard Childress and the Wood Brothers.
Some of NASCAR true pioneers are also listed as finalist. However, I think drivers like Herb Thomas, Joe Weatherly, Richie Evans, Fred Lorenzen, Tim Flock and Red Byron will have to wait one more year.
The main problem with the NASCAR Hall Of Fame is that they are over 60 years behind. In my opinion the next two or three draft classes should include at least seven or eight people.
Here are the five I think will get into the Hall Of Fame in 2011. I'm accually glad I only had to pick five. After this class it will really start getting tough.
NASCAR's first three-time champion, 1954, 1958-59. Lee made 427 starts with an impressive 332 top-10 finishes. That alone is an amazing stat.
Lee scored 54 career wins from 1949-1964. He also had more wins on dirt than any other driver.
Petty was the founder of the most successful team in motorsports history.
The biggest moment of Petty’s career came in the inaugural Daytona 500 in 1959. Lee and Johnny Beauchamp were involved in a controversial photo finish, in which Beauchamp was awarded the win. After three days Lee was finally declared the winner.
I thought that the father/son combo inducted in the first class should have been Lee and Richard as opposed to Bill France Sr. and Jr. (I thought the France’s should have been inducted together, as a family, but that is a different story)
This is a no-brainer.
Like Lee Petty, the Silver Fox is also a three-time series champion.
Pearson won the 1960 NASCAR Grand National (Sprint Cup) Rookie of the Year. Pearson finished his career with 574 starts, 105 wins and 366 top ten finishes.
The South Carolina native has an amazing 18.3 winning percentage, best of all NASCAR drivers.
Pearson also won the 1976 Daytona 500 in one of the most exciting finishes in any form of motorsports. David and Richard Petty touched coming off of turn four, slamming both drivers into the wall. Richard could not get his famous No. 43 to start. David managed to keep his car rolling just enough to get the win.
Another three-time champion, Darrell Waltrip was the driver everyone loved to hate in the 80s.
During that decade alone Waltrip scored all three of his Winston Cup titles, along with an astonishing 57 wins.
When he retied at the end of the 2000 season he had scored 84 total wins and 390 top-10 finishes in 809 starts.
In 1989, after 17 years of Waltrip Darrell finally got a win in NASCAR's biggest race, the Daytona 500.
No other driver knew how to use the media quite like the brash and outspoken Kentucky-born driver. Jaws, as he was nicknamed by Cale Yarborough would often make jabs at fellow competitors by making comments to reporters, just to get under another driver's skin.
Waltrip was no stranger to controversy, like with his win in the inaugural running of the Winston, NASCAR's all-star race. Just a few feet after the Junior Johnson owned Chevrolet Waltrip was driving crossed the line, the engine blew. To this day I’d say most people think it was an illegal Engine. I guess we will never know.
I am starting to see a pattern develop. Another three-time series champion, the first to win three in a row.
Cale missed a fourth title in five years in 1980, coming home second in points to a young kid named Dale Earnhardt by only 19 points.
In career that spanned 560 starts over a 31 year period, Cale finished in the top ten 319 times, including 83 wins, behind only Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison, David Pearson and Richard Petty.
Yarborough won the coveted Daytona 500 four times, bested only by Richard Petty’s seven.
Without a doubt it was the Daytona 500 that he did not win that people think of when they hear the name Yarborough.
In 1979 CBS was set to cover the Dayton 500 flag to flag for the first time ever. That race changed NASCAR in a way no one could have imagined at the time. Cale was locked on a ferocious battle with Donnie Allison as the laps wound down.
Everything came to a head on the final lap. The two cars bumped all the way down the back stretch, ending up in the grass in turn three. As Richard Petty stormed by to take the win Yarborough and Allison, who had been joined by his brother Bobby were entangled in a brawl on live TV.
One of NASCAR's defining moments happened while the entire east coast, who were snowed in after a blizzard, watched. NASCAR, along with Yarborough and the Allison gained a lot of fans that day and NACAR was never the same.
Last and certainly not least, leader of the Alabama gang, Bobby Allison.
I must admit I am a little biased in this one. Although I became a NASCAR fan after the crash that ended Allson’s driving career the stories I’ve read and interviews I watched make Bobby one of my heroes.
Unlike the other four drivers on my list, Bobby only managed to win only one NASCAR title, in 1983.
Allison did manage to win the coveted Daytona 500 in three occasions, the final being an emotional win in 1988, also the last win of his storied career.
That day Allison drove his Stavola Brothers owned Buick to victory, just ahead of the Ford driven by his young son, Davey.
Just a few months later Bobby’s career came to a sudden end with a crash at Pocono. Allison survived, but his career was over.
Bobby retired with 718 starts, 84 total wins, currently tied with Darrell Waltrip for third all time and one ahead of Cale Yarborough and two ahead of Jeff Gordon.