Monday, May 23, 2011

NASCAR inducts its second Hall of Fame class

A comprehensive history of the sport came together Monday night at the NASCAR Hall of Fame for the annual induction ceremony.

This time Bud Moore, Lee Petty, Ned Jarrett, Bobby Allison and David Pearson shared the sport’s ultimate honor. Although there was a big stage and lots of fancy lights, this night felt more like we were in the backyard of each individual as he was introduced.

While the honorees included the Oscar-like thank you’s, each honoree told the story of his career and shared stories: some funny, some inspiring and some of the saddest that can be told.

The night was a nice break from the weekly concerns about which drivers are running well or which drivers are angry at each other. This night was all about the history of the sport, and boy is that sport amazing. Some stories make good movies, but the history of NASCAR might be the greatest thrill ride of any sport in the world, and this class certainly encompassed that ride.

We had Bud Moore, a pioneer owner in the sport who stormed Normandy, France on D-Day and went on to build cars for 43 different drivers, including three Hall of Famers in Dale Earnhardt, Bobby Allison and David Pearson, and many more future Hall of Famers. Moore could be viewed as a stubborn man, but his first priority was to win and in the moment nothing was going to stand in the way of that goal. He was part of the Greatest Generation and continues to represent that group with class.

Next was Lee Petty, the founder of the great Petty family dynasty. Petty also wouldn’t take no for an answer and although others drivers have more of a reputation for being rough-and-tough drivers, Lee Petty would certainly do whatever it took to win and bring home the money he needed to feed his family, including protesting what would have been his son Richard’s first win. Still, he did it because that was what would bring the family the most money that week. He was represented at the ceremony by his two sons, Richard and Maurice.

Then came Ned Jarrett, one of the most well-spoken men in the sport. Broadcasting was the perfect second career for him. Also, Jarrett is one of the most gracious people in the sport. He is not afraid to say thank you to those he feels it is necessary. It is hard to imagine he has ever left a debt unpaid. While NASCAR grew up as a tough man’s sport, Jarrett portrayed a gentler personality off the track, but still kicked everybody’s butt on the track. Jarrett’s values are inspiring.

Bobby Allison talked about several moments in his great career, but he also spoke about his life, which has included as many ups and downs as any life a person could live. He did speak about his children, two of which were killed in 1992. Clifford was killed in a racing crash at Michigan and Davey was killed later in a freak helicopter crash. The thought of losing two children is unimaginably horrible, and Allison understands that as well as anyone.

“You know, the world I hope never is that cruel to any other family again,” he said.

Finally, the class clown David Pearson stepped up to the stage and told his stories in a way only he can. He won a bunch of races, and often did it with style. Future Hall of Famer Leonard Wood, the chief mechanic for the Wood Brothers, introduced Pearson and his story about Pearson passing Buddy Baker and lighting a cigarette as he completed the pass and cruised down the frontstretch is the perfect picture for the sly “Silver Fox.”

Although the Hall of Fame has taken some criticism on the business side, the induction ceremony is one of the most special events of the season and probably the most meaningful. The Hall of Fame shouldn’t be about making money. That building is similar to the country’s national parks and landmarks. They are there because they are important, not because somebody needs to make money.

For one night, time stood still and the NASCAR of years gone by came back to life. It gives me goosebumps.

Look for more Monday Morning Crew Chief coverage of Hall of Fame week, including a story about Mark Martin sleeping in Bobby Allison’s basement. More photos from the night will be up in the coming days, but also check out the Monday Morning Crew Chief Facebook page for a full gallery of photos from the Hall of Fame and the induction ceremony.


  1. I enjoyed the induction on TV. It was great to hear some of old stories. Those men, and others just like them, carried the sport for more than 30 years. Congrats to all of them.

  2. Gene - On night's like Monday, they still carry the sport. Too bad we don't get to see them more often.

  3. Sorry so late to these Mayer- been slowly catching up over the week. Awesome overview cant wait to read more of the stories and about your experiences