Pedley: This Class Adds Depth To NASCAR Hall Of Fame
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
When the package of biographical material that NASCAR sends out to those who vote for members of its Hall of Fame arrived last year, I must admit: It was the material on former drivers that got the longest, deepest looks.
Names of former drivers like Cale Yarborough, Fireball Roberts, Darrell Waltrip, Herb Thomas, Jack Ingram, Benny Parsons. Names that evoke wonderful mental images. Names that grab and names that everybody who has spent any time at all around stock car racing know and appreciate.
Names that, at some point in the near future, all will be engraved into exhibits at the Charlotte Hall of Fame.
The back stage nominees? They, too, will get their due some day, I figured. They are too important to the sport not to be inducted at some point. The numbers involved would make sure of that. The impact they had on the sport would demand it.
Just, not yet. Not as soon as the third class of the Hall. So only drivers were on the short list as I headed into the Charlotte Conference Center last June.
But then discussion began in the voting room. Discussion from the impressively diverse panel of voters
which the NASCAR Hall has assembled. Discussion that added color and texture to the cold, printed numbers that dominated the biographical data that littered the desks in the conference room.
When I turned in my ballot late that afternoon, two nominees who were not known for their driving accomplishments were on it: Glen Wood and Dale Inman.
I stand by those votes, and will be proud to have cast them tonight when Wood and Inman are officially enshrined into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Both men added major doses of that color and texture to the sport. Both have had lasting effects on the sport. Both had names which I knew long before I attended my first Cup event.
Inman, says his cousin, Hall of Famer Richard Petty, was an honest to goodness pioneer. One whose influence will touch every person atop every pit box next month at Daytona whether they know it or not.
“He was the sport’s first official crew chief and people modeled themselves after him,” Petty, who was wrenched to seven Cup championships by Inman, said. “He knew what, when and where – and when he made a mistake he wasn’t afraid to admit it. Everyone respected him for that. Nobody even comes close to the number of wins (193) that Dale has recorded.”
A lot of people had a lot of Inman stories they told in the voting room last year. Some of those stories have become part of public lore over the years. Some were not as well known. All added up to the belief here that Dale Inman needed to be in the Hall right now.
While Glen Wood was not on the short list before voting day, he was on the mind. He had been since the days when childhood friends and I would invoke the names of the Wood Brothers as we rushed to re-sprocket skipped chains on our bicycles.
The pre-voting problem with Wood was his brothers. Specifically, brother Leonard Wood. There was contingent of voters who had a hard time reconciling a decision to vote just one of the Woods into the Hall.
It was a talk with RacinToday.com colleague Rick Minter that held most sway here. The veteran reporter knows the Woods like few others in the media. He assured me that voting for Glen as a solo act would be appropriate for the sport and acceptable to the Wood family.
There is no doubt here: This is the time to put Dale Inman and Glen Wood into the Hall of Fame.
Both men are NASCAR. They personify what NASCAR is about as a sport and a sub-culture. Many of the photos of them are in grainy black and white. They’re contributions are clear and colorful.
Many fans have made it clear in comments and emails that they disagree.
And that’s cool.
But, I firmly believe that anybody who has ever argued that racing is a true, honest-to-gosh team sport simply has to be of this one opinion: Both men need to be in the Hall and right now.
– Jim Pedley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments