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Pearson Heads New Hall Of Fame Class

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, October 13 2010

David Pearson got into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Charlotte, N.C. – The NASCAR Hall of Fame grew by five members Wednesday as the voting for its second class was conducted in the Charlotte Convention Center.

The new members are David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Ned Jarrett, Bud Moore and Lee Petty.

The five new members join the inaugural class which was elected a year ago. Those voted in in 2009 were Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Junior Johnson, Bill France Sr. and Bill France Jr.

Many thought that Pearson, who is second on the list of all-time Cup race-winners with 105 in 574 starts, should have been voted into that inaugural class last year.

Pearson said he was not surprised with the 2009 vote, but that he was just happy to get in this year.

“It’s a great feeling,” the driver nicknamed The Silver Fox and winner of three Cup championships, said. “I’m certainly glad we made it.

“I’m just proud that that many people thought to vote for me.”

A year ago, a lot of friends told Pearson that he should make his way down to Charlotte on balloting day. Pearson, soft-spoken and unassuming, finally consented to go. He left empty handed.

“I had heard that I would definitely  be in” this year, he said. “I heard that last year, too.”

So, he said he thought, “Well, I’ll try it again.”

Some contend that Pearson is the best driver in the history of the sport. He was asked his thoughts about that Wednesday.

“I guess I am,” he said. “If you don’t believe you’re the best…you’re going to get beat.”

Jarrett made his name on two fronts. He was a top driver who won two Cup championships and 50 races in Cup in the 1950s and 1960s. He was also a pioneer in the field of broadcasting NASCAR races.

He admits that both helped get him into the Hall in its second year.

“There is more joy than relief,” Jarrett, also known as Gentleman Ned, said Wednesday. “And the fact that Dale (his son, two-time Cup champion Dale Jarrett) is here to enjoy it with me” makes it more joyful.

He said the broadcasting part of his career was about luck. He said he came along just as NASCAR was starting to make its way onto television and, “I feel very fortunate to come along at the right time.”

Jarrett said that a lot of people have told him that he belongs in the Hall. He shrugged when asked about that.

“I was really blown away by the support I got,” Jarrett said. “It made me feel good. Whether I got elected or not, it made me feel good.”

Allison is tied with Darrell Waltrip for third on the Cup series’ all-time win list with 84. He thinks his number should be 85 as he had a victory taken away from him back in the day because cars from different divisions were competing in the same race at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem in 1971.

“I won that race,” Allison said Wednesday.

He won at the Hall Wednesday.

“This is really special,” Allison said. “I had the highs and the lows (his son Davey died in a helicopter crash at Talladega and his other son, Clifford, died in a wreck at Michigan International Speedway in 1992). I won the Daytona 500 three times. I won it at age 50 . Then to have the heartache and agony. But it is still so special.”

Petty is the patriarch of the racing Petty family from Randleman, N.C. and the founder of Petty Enterprises. He is father of Richard Petty, the winning driver in Cup with 200.

Lee Petty won three Cup titles and the very first Daytona 500 and that one is remembered for more than just being the first. Petty and Johnny Beauchamp finished so close together that the result was not made official for day after the race. It was decided Petty won after a photo turned up.

He finished his career with 54 victories, which puts him ninth on the all-time list.

“It’s a great feeling” that he made it, Petty’s son Maurice said Wednesday. “I’m certainly glad he made it.”

Son Richard, upon being named to the Hall last year, was upset that his father was not enshrined at the same time. He said Lee Petty was much more deserving to be in the Hall because without him, Ricahrd would not be a racer.

Moore was a team owner. Among those who drove his cars during his 37 seasons as an owner were such stars as Joe Weatherly, Dale Earnhardt, Fireball Roberts, Benny Parsons, Pearson and Allison.

He won back to back championships in 1962 and ’63. His drivers won 63 races and had 298 top-fives finishes.

Moore’s heroics were not confined to racing. He was awarded medals for his actions as an infantryman in World War II.

Moore was in on the D-Day landing. He told RacinToday’s Larry Woody recently, “I don’t see how any of us made it. Hell, I reckon we were all too young and too dumb to be scared. Otherwise I don’t think they could’ve got us off them damn boats with cattle prods.”

He also fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He was a machine gunner and, he told Woody, “Germans didn’t like machine gunners. Not live ones”.

Moore was wounded five times in the war.

Moore looked nervous again Wednesday as he sat in the very back of the room where voting for the Hall was taking place. But this time it turned out that voters like machine gunners.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, October 13 2010
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