NASCAR's Hall of Fame 55-member voting panel, including one representing the fans, got it right Tuesday when it ventured into new territory by selecting Dale Inman and Richie Evans.
Inman will be the first crew chief and Evans the first driver who didn't race in Sprint Cup to be inducted, next January in the Class of 2012. Inman was crew chief for Richard Petty's seven championships and Terry Labonte's 1984 title for car owner Billy Hagan and has 193 Cup wins. Evans won eight straight and nine total championships in NASCAR's Modified division in a career cut short by his death in a practice crash at Martinsville in 1985.
Three-time Cup champions Darrell Waltrip (84 wins, tied for third on all-time list), Cale Yarborough (83 wins and the only driver, besides
Waltrip and Yarborough were the standout choices for voters this year. Some believed either one or both deserved to be selected last year, but it wasn't a snub. With 60 years of history, NASCAR was top-heavy with candidates destined to make the Hall of Fame and Waltrip and Yarborough slid into the third group. Yarborough received 85 percent of the vote, Waltrip 82. Those aren't numbers that reflect any issues that would have remained from a year ago.
Wood received 44 percent, the lowest total among the five, and may have been helped by
The first 15 into NASCAR's HOF is spread among two founding executives (Bill France Sr. and Bill France Jr.), seven Cup drivers (Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, David Pearson, Ned Jarrett, Bobby Allison, Yarborough and Waltrip), three Cup owner-drivers (Junior Johnson, Lee Petty, Wood), one Cup team owner (Bud Moore), one Modified driver (Evans) and one crew chief (Inman).
The inclusion of Inman and Evans is an indication of the voting being less predictable and honoring those who have achieved greatness outside of Sprint Cup. It's a NASCAR Hall of Fame and that's the direction it's headed.
Who should be in the class of 2013? If I had a vote, these would be my five.
At Seagraves' suggestion, NASCAR reduced its schedule from 46 races in 1971 to 31 in 1972, ushering in the modern era. The Winston All-Star race and the Winston Million, won by Bill Elliott in 1985, were also innovations in the Seagraves era, which ended with his retirement in 1985. Outside of Bill France Sr. and Bill Jr., Seagraves was the most influential executive in NASCAR history.