NASCAR announced the names of the latest Hall of Fame inductees this afternoon and they got just about all of them right this time.
Retired drivers Darrell Waltrip (that Boogity-boogity-boogity boy himself) and Cale Yarborough were the two big names in the bunch. Veteran crew chief Dale Inman, modified star Richie Evans and owner Glen Wood (whose team won the Daytona 500 last February) were the others named.
Waltrip, whose nickname is “Jaws” and who went on to become one of the best racing announcers out there (who also irritates as many people as he pleases), won three NASCAR Winston Cup championships and 84 races in his career, including the Daytona 500. He is tied for the third most wins with Bobby Allison and Jeff Gordon.
Yarborough was the first person to win three-consecutive NASCAR Cup championships. He had 83 career wins, including four Daytona 500s.
Inman is best known for being Richard Petty’s crew chief for three decades. They won 198 races and seven championships together.
He was also the crew chief for Terry Labonte in 1984 when Labonte won the Winston Cup. (I originally typed 1974, but that was a typo - I meant '84. Thanks to a commenter for pointing that out.)
The Wood Brothers Racing Team (Leonard and his four brothers Glen, Delano, Clay, and Ray Lee) holds the unique distinction of being the oldest active team in NASCAR, having fielded cars since 1950. They are known for their long relationship with the Ford Motor Co. and the long-standing use of No. 21 on their car.
They also invented the modern pit stop. Until then, pit stops had been almost leisurely affairs but the Woods noted that by applying a degree of urgency, they could improve their car’s position on the track. Now, pits stops are lightning quick in all forms of motorsport.
The selection of Richie Evans really pleases me and is a fine illustration that NASCAR has not forgotten its roots. As I wrote when he was nominated the first time:
“There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of top-notch short-track racers who, for reasons known only to themselves, never went on to the Big Time.
“From my perspective, it was more of a pleasure to watch Evans, Jerry Cook, Maynard Troyer, George Kent, Jimmy Spencer (okay, he moved up) and Reggie Ruggierro going at it, hammer and tong, on the short tracks of the U.S. Northeast than it was to be at a place like Michigan to watch a parade of big names not doing very much of anything.”
Evans won nine NASCAR modified championships, including eight straight. He is more than worthy and, along with the other four, will be officially enshrined in January.
Now, if the selection committee would only get around to inducting Curtis Turner, all would be well with the world.