Pedley: Proud/Sorry To Say Here Is How I Voted
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Charlotte, N.C. – For the second year in a row on Wednesday afternoon, I left the room where voting for the NASCAR Hall of Fame was held with a case of buyer’s remorse.
For the first time ever, it slowly occurred to me Wednesday that for as long as I hold my position as voting-panel member, post-balloting guilt is going to tag along. There are just too many worthy candidates and too few available slots each year for it to be any other way.
Last year, I voted for Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Junior Johnson, Bill France Jr. and Bill France Sr.
I was the last voter, I think, to turn in a ballot. The reason was I had a tough time deciding between one of those five – all who ended up making it into the Hall’s inaugural class – and David Pearson.
Pearson is regarded by many as the best pure driver the sport has known. He won 105 races – second only to Richard Petty’s 200. Pearson won all those races in just 574 starts. To some, he shares the throne with The King.
I finally went with my original list and walked out of the room. Standing not far from the door was Pearson, who had been talked into coming down to Charlotte on voting day by people who had assured him that he would be elected.
The look on Pearson’s face has haunted me for over a year. It’s not that any of the five who did make it in were undeserving. It was just that Pearson was also deserving. So freakin’ deserving.
It was with a sense of relief that I voted for him on Wednesday.
I also voted for Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip and Bud Moore on Wednesday.
Again, I was one of the last to turn in my ballot. With some around me jokingly – or perhaps not jokingly – to hurry, I put the final “X’s” next to the final names and handed the ballot in.
And then again was struck sweaty by guilt.
And, again, not because any of the people I voted for did not deserve enshrinement, but because several others I did not vote for, did.
Here are the reasons why I voted for whom I did:
Pearson – enough said.
Allison – Great numbers in Cup tell plenty about his contribution to NASCAR. But he was also immensely active in lesser series while racing Modifieds. As such, he was taking racing to the people and serving as an ambassador.
Yarborough – His 83 victories say volumes. But Yarborough was also the first driver to win three straight Cup championships – something that stood until Jimmie Johnson did it and then topped it. He also had four victories in the Daytona 500. Three times he finished second in Cup standings. Some in the meeting room remarked they may not vote for him because Yarborough is perceived to have abandoned NASCAR after he retired. I wasn’t buying that.
Waltrip – DW was a three time Cup champion and won 84 races – which ties him with Allison for third most. But Waltrip’s career was not totally defined by numbers. He was a new breed of athlete who talked as big as he raced. He continues to talk today as a commentator. I am not a fan of trash talk and to me, TV work has nothing to do with what Waltrip was as a driver and that is become one great wheelman.
Moore – His was one of the names not belonging to a driver which I first remember hearing back in my youth. In reading and listening to races in the 1960s, it was: “Dale Earnhardt, driving for Bud Moore”; “David Pearson in a Bud Moore-owned car”; “Bobby Allison in a Bud Moore-prepared car”. Moore served me notice that racing is a team sport. And, yes, I took his status as a hero in World War II into account. When you read about his actions as an infantryman, and I have, you can’t forget it or put it out of your mind. I plead guilty to being swayed by that.
The guilt comes in because for several hours I heard people whom I respect like crazy give reasons why a dozen other people should be in the Hall. Great reasons. Indisputable reasons.
For the next year, it will be the names and faces and exploits of Dale Inman, Raymond Parks, Curtis Turner, Fireball Roberts, Richie Evans, Glen Wood, Jerry Cook and Herb Thomas who will wake me up in the middle of the night.
But you pays your money and you takes your shot.
See you in the morning.
– Jim Pedley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments