NASCAR Hall of Fame: Predicting the Class of 2013
Next January, the NASCAR Hall of Fame will induct another five members into its prestigious fraternitySprint Cup champions and legends Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough, famed car owner Glen Wood, crew chief Dale Inman and modified great Richie Evans.
After inducting legendary drivers and important authority figures in its first two classes, the NASCAR Hall of Fame's voting committee is showing that they will not hesitate to put non-drivers into the downtown Charlotte venue.
With 15 members down, how could be the next five to have their inductions announced around this time a year from now. Here's a speculative quintet that could make up the Class of 2013.
This Year's 20 "Snubs"
The NASCAR Hall of Fame's other 20 nominees for induction that didn't get the "call" last week, and the group from which I will pick my five personal favorites, included the following:
H. Clay Earles
T. Wayne Robertson
Since the trend of the past two classes has been champions-turned-television-analysts, I think it should continue in 2013 with the induction of the late Benny Parsons.
After rising from unlikely roots as a Detroit cab driver, Parsons won the Sprint Cup title in 1973 while winning just one raceusing the familiar strategy of consistency to take home a championship.
Of course, he served as an outstanding ambassador to the sport via his work as a broadcaster with ESPN, ABC, NBC and TNT from 1988-2006. "BP" was known for his folksy style, connecting instantly with the viewers and giving way to great chemistry with his play-by-play man, whether it be Bob Jenkins, Allen Bestwick or Bill Weber.
His ambassadorship is enough to punch a ticket into the Hall of Fame
Much like Richie Evans became the face of modified racing under the NASCAR umbrella, Jack Ingram did the same to what is now known as the Nationwide Series. What's even more impressive is the fact that he did so while in his late-40s and early-50s.
Ingram became the first Nationwide Series champion in 1982, doing so again three years later. He would eventually win 31 races in eight seasons on the circuit.
For pioneering the Nationwide Series, Ingram should be in the Hall of Fame.
While Glen Wood may have had the driving record and serves as the current face of Wood Brothers Racing, Leonard Wood is just as responsible for the rise of the team as one of the greatest in the history of the sport.
Leonard was mostly responsible for the powerhouse engine operation that helped David Pearson win 103 races in his NASCAR career, while assisting in the creation of the pit stop methodology that we still see today.
Glenn "Fireball" Roberts was one of NASCAR's first young stars, on his way to a legendary career before his life was tragically cut short at the 1964 Coca-Cola 600, just months after the death of Weatherly.
While the 1962 Daytona 500 champion will no doubt be remembered for his on-track efforts, the legacy following his death is more notable, leading to the creation of fireproof firesuits and protected fuel cells.
One could argue that the importance of his death alone could be more than enough to earn a spot into the inaugural class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. A spot in the fourth class is more than deserving.
Tim Flock is one of the pioneers of NASCAR, winning a pair of Sprint Cup titles and 40 races in the sport's early days.
Infamously known for his monkey co-driver "Jocko Flocko," Flock won 18 races and 19 poles in 45 races during the 1955 season. While that win mark was shattered by Richard Petty in 1967, his pole tally remains unmatched to this day.
In a perfect world, the induction of Flock and Roberts would begin a string of old-school drivers making it into their rightful place in the Hall of Fame.
Thoughts? Comment below.