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Woody: Deck The Hall With A Lot More Names

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, September 15 2009
Fireball Roberts will likely not be elected to the Hall of Fame in its first year. That’s a shame. (Photo by RacingOne/Getty Images) J

Fireball Roberts will likely not be elected to the Hall of Fame in its first year. That’s a shame. (Photo by RacingOne/Getty Images) J

Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

It’s not too late. NASCAR still has time to change its mind and increase the number of inductees in the inaugural class when its new Hall of Fame opens next spring.

If it can change the racing rules in mid-season it can certainly change the number of Hall of Fame inductees.

But so far, it remains stuck on five.

Five. To represent 62 years of rollicking racing.

NASCAR has 25 Hall of Fame nominees and I think all 25 should be inducted in the opening ceremony. They’re all deserving, and what better way to open the shrine than with a parade of giants?

Five? At that rate it’ll take 100 years to induct everybody who’s deserving. Drivers who aren’t born yet will be retired, grey, and still waiting at the end of a long line.

Five? There are that many deserving Hall of Famers in the average TV booth nowadays.

Five? What’s so special about five? And who decided? Some guy who noticed there’s five lug nuts per tire and took it as a sign?

The argument for limiting inductions to five is that it makes them special. Well, so would limiting it to one per year – that would make it really special – but it would also make it impossible to honor all the racing greats who deserve it.

The other day I was re-reading an old Sports Illustrated special edition devoted to NASCAR’s 50th anniversary in which a panel named the sport’s 12 greatest drivers. They are, in order:

1-Junior Johnson

2-David Pearson

3-Richard Petty

4-Bobby Allison

5-Dale Earnhardt

6-Darrell Waltrip

7-Cale Yarborough

8-Jeff Gordon

9-Herb Thomas

10-Fireball Roberts

11-Tim Flock

12-Lee Petty

I’d like someone from the Hall of Fame selection committee to look me in the eye and tell me which of those six don’t deserve to be inducted in the first round. Which ones will they snub?

And how can they leave out the Frances; Big Bill and Bill Jr.? Without them the sport wouldn’t be where it is today. In fact, it might not even be around.

So that’s 14. Throw in Linda Vaughn, Miss Hurst Golden Shifter, and that makes 15.

It’s still not enough, of course – all 25 nominees should go in immediately – but it beats five.

Five? If the Baseball of Fame were scheduled to open next spring do you think decades of great major leaguers could be distilled to five Cooperstown inductees? Or how about the NFL Hall of Fame? If it were just starting up in Canton could generations of gridiron giants be winnowed down to five?

Of course not. It would be impossible.

So why is NASCAR so determined to do it?

I fear that it’s going to trifle around with its paltry five inductees and end up peeving scores of fans who’ll feel – rightly so — that their favorite driver got shafted.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame should be about recognition and celebration, not about snubbing deserving drivers and alienating fans. Especially when it’s uncalled for.

NASCAR has a legion of legends – enough inductees for decades – and there’s room for them all in the Hall.

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

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, September 15 2009
3 Comments

3 Comments »

  • larry woody says:

    Richard you’re correct. The Baseball Hall of Fame started with five inductees — in 1936, a decade before NASCAR was born.
    The Baseball Hall now has 289 members. At 5 per year imagine how long it’ll be before NASCAR has that many. The vast majority of fans will never get to see their favorite drivers inducted.
    What’s wrong with staring out with a big class, then going with only five per year in the future if NASCAR’s stuck on that number?

  • Richard in N.C. says:

    If I’m not mistaken, when the baseball hall of fame opened its first class was limited to just 5.

  • Rob says:

    While I do not agree all 25 of the nominees should be inducted in the first year, I do agree there should be more than five included. For one, take out the names of those STILL involved in NASCAR – let them be nominated AFTER they leave the sport. Senior fans won’t like this, but he is a later driver. While I am a Richard Petty fan, the same holds true for him and Waltrip. And as I heard someone mention, there are no crew chiefs nominated!

    How about a “sliding scale” over the first few years? Ie., 15 inductees the first year, 10 the second year, and five each year afterwards.

    Yeah, only five inductees the first year is ridiculous!