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Woody: Five Not Enough For Hall’s Walls

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, July 28 2009
Richard Petty should be voted into the Hall of Fame immediately. But should 24 others as well?  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Richard Petty should be voted into the Hall of Fame immediately. But should 24 others as well? (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Larry Woody | Senior Writer

I know exactly which of the 25 nominees should be in the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s inaugural class.

All of ‘em.

Nobody can dispute that every one of the 25 is deserving, so why not open the Hall with a bang and induct all of them in one banner class?

There’s no future shortage of deserving drivers, mechanics, officials, promoters, track owners, marketing executives and (yes) media and public relations personalities who helped build the sport over the decades.

And don’t forget Linda Vaughan.

Shoot, I could sit down and off the top of my head name 25 others who deserve to be in the Hall of Fame in addition to the current 25 nominees.

Remember, this is a sport whose history dates back to Dec. 14, 1947. A case could be made that every person who attended that first organizational meeting at Daytona’s Streamline Hotel is worthy of induction at some point.

As I’ve written, if the selection committee is stuck on five, I think NASCAR founder Bill France has to be in that number. I’d also go with Richard Petty, Junior Johnson, Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip.

Every one of the five helped make the sport what it is today.

But they aren’t alone; the same could be said for countless others whose deeds and contributions are equally tremendous. (For example, are Big Bill France’s contributions really greater than those of his son who oversaw the sport’s national explosion?)

It’s the height of absurdity to attempt to distill over 60 years of rollicking history down to just five individuals.

I know the arguments for a five-man class: keeping it small makes it special. Keeping it limited allows more focus on each individual inductee. It inspires debate and interest.

I don’t buy it, especially not for the inaugural class.

Increasing the class size won’t detract from each individual. It’ll be just as special for that inductee and his/her fans.

Since the actual induction won’t be held until well into the future, there’s plenty of time to promote each individual inductee. NASCAR could introduce one a week for the next 25 weeks and the media could cover it as it wished.

And when the Grand Opening finally arrives, what better way to make a memorable splash than by inducting such a class of giants?

When that Bumper Class of 25 is enshrined, there’ll be plenty of deserving personalities waiting in the wings – enough for years and years of quality inductions.

By the time all the currently-deserving persons are installed, more will have sprouted up. There’s some future Hall of Famer (Class of 2050?) working on his go-kart with his dad somewhere in some backyard right now.

There’ll never be a shortage of persons worthy of enshrinement; that’s not a concern.

Right now the concern should be that 20 great, deserving nominees will be left out of that initial roll call. Snubbed, if you will.

Yes, a limit of five inductees will stir debate. But it also will create hurt feelings and rancor and legions of miffed fans.

That’s hardly a good way to christen a great, long-overdue venue of recognition and celebration.

It’s a problem that’s simple to resolve: induct all 25. The positives far out-weigh any negatives.

If someone at the Hall is worried coming up with additional deserving inductees for the following year – and the next, and the next — give me a few minutes. I’ll get them a list.

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, July 28 2009


  • KindWord says:

    Here’s a thought … Why not make the Hall of Fame’s “starting lineup” just like the raceday starting lineup — a field of 43!!
    What an attraction to go visit — a Hall of Fame with only five members! That’ll attract the fans in droves.
    Next year: What an attraction to go visit — a Hall of Fame with only 10 members!
    Get the picture?
    Start off with a strong field of 43 in the Hall of Fame and that will really make it a place race fans want to see. Then add five a year after that.
    There are enough people with powerful NASCAR histories that no one will ever say, “Why is he (or she) in he Hall of Fame?” And, new stars are starting to shine every week, so there won’t ever be a shortage of potential candidates.

  • WingedWarrior says:

    I second the nomination of Linda Vaughan.

  • SallyB says:

    Exactly. After 50 years of racing, it only seems appropriate for them to make up for lost time and induct several of the Nascar pioneers for the first induction. With all the crew chiefs, sponsors, and owners that have contributed to racing over the years, it seems silly to start out with only 5. Not going to make much of an exhibit at the Hall, is it?