Families Take Center Stage At Hall Of Fame
By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – NASCAR has always billed itself as a family oriented sport and seven-time champion Richard Petty said the 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame class announced Wednesday reinforces that sentiment.
Petty’s younger brother, Maurice, and Ned Jarrett’s younger son, Dale, were among the five selected by a voting panel that met prior to the announcement by NASCAR Chairman Brian France. The other three were Tim Flock, Jack Ingram and Fireball Roberts. Fifty-five votes determined the 2014 inductees with fans receiving one vote via NASCAR.com. The other 54 came from NASCAR Hall of Fame and track executives, NASCAR officials, media, manufacturer representatives, former owners, drivers, crew chiefs and NASCAR community leaders. The five men will be inducted Jan. 29.
With Maurice Petty’s selection, the entire Petty family that built Petty Enterprises for three decades will now be in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Richard Petty was inducted in the first class, his father Lee in the second class and cousin Dale Inman in the third. Maurice Petty, 74, will make his entrance into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in its fifth class.
“It feels great!” said Maurice Petty, who received congratulations from Frank Scott, Wendell Scott’s son, during his interviews with the media. “It’s great to go in with this class. It just makes you feel on top of the world. Whatever the good Lord meant to be is what’s going to happen to me.”
Richard Petty admitted he lobbied diligently for his brother, who battled polio as a young child.
“On his [Maurice’s] part, they just looked at his record,” Richard Petty said. “He was the silent Petty. It was
always the driver or Dale Inman the crew chief. He was in the back working. It’s good now that he’s getting a little PR out of it.”
Maurice Petty is the first championship engine builder to be elected into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. He was the head engine builder for all of his brother’s seven championships. Known simply as “Chief” he built the engines that propelled Richard Petty to the majority of his record 200 victories. Lee Petty, Buddy Baker, Jim Paschal and Pete Hamilton also won with his engines.
“It was a team effort,” Richard Petty said. “If my dad hadn’t been here I wouldn’t have been here; Chief wouldn’t have been here. It just all worked out. I don’t think any of the Petty crowd could be a whole lot happier.”
With Dale Jarrett’s selection, the Jarrett family becomes the second father-son duo to be named to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Ned, who was seated beside his son during the announcement, couldn’t contain his excitement as he hugged him immediately when France read his name.
“I knew for certain he would get in one day, but I didn’t know when it might be,” Ned Jarrett said. “I didn’t think he would have much of a chance the first go around, but after we heard the discussion in the room today, I thought maybe he did have a good chance to go in this year. It’s very, very rewarding to see him get this honor.”
The elder Jarrett said he felt the fact that NASCAR has always been a family sport had a great deal to do with his son getting elected into the Hall of Fame this year.
“This sport, NASCAR, has been built on families, starting with the France family,” Ned said. “Just go down the list and we’re just happy to be a small part and I think that was a very important part of him getting elected this year.”
Ned said his son’s election into the NASCAR Hall of Fame was about as emotional as when he was named to receive the honor.
“The year I was voted in I didn’t expect to get in that year. I thought it would be a year or two down the road and the same thing with D.J.,” he continued. “It is so special. It’s hard to put into words when you look at the father-son aspect of it. We all like to see our kids do good and get rewarded for it. For him to get it this early is very, very special.”
Dale Jarrett, a series champion, three-time Daytona 500 winner and a Brickyard 400 victor, admitted he was stunned when his name was read. He had stopped by the NASCAR Hall of Fame simply to show support en route to son Zach’s high school graduation party and he was dressed appropriately for that poolside event.
“I am very much surprised this happened on the first ballot,” Dale Jarrett said. “Once I saw I was on the list I was very appreciative of that and in a few years down the road it would probably happen. I really came here with no idea. I didn’t think that (I would be elected today).”
Dale Jarrett said it was incredibly special to join his father in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
“I was excited two years ago when my dad got in that he could be recognized when his health was good and he could be a part of it and enjoy it,” he continued. “Kinda the same thing now. You can never repay your parents for all they do; the sacrifices they make for helping you in all the ways. This is the type of thing that is a little bit of a payback and a ‘thank you’ for all the hard work, effort and guidance along the way. It’s special to know there’s only one other father-son combination on the driver side in this Hall of Fame, so I’m very privileged.”
Richard Petty described the 2014 class as a “tough” one, “really a good class.”
“When you look at the wins all of these guys have had together, championships, the influence they’ve had on NASCAR over a period of years from Tim Flock up to Dale Jarrett, so everything in between is when NASCAR grew,” Petty continued. “You’ve got a whole program up there right now.”
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