[box type=”info”] Article first published as Acceleration Weekend on Technorati.[/box]
CHARLOTTE — NASCAR gathers at the Hall of Fame Friday evening to induct five men who helped shape the history of NASCAR – Richie Evans, Dale Inman, Darrell Waltrip, Glen Wood, and Cale Yarborough. From Daytona to Talladega, Watkins Glen to Riverside, in the pits and on the tracks the legacy of the sport comes to life at the Hall of Fame.
Saturday at the Hall of Fame kicks off with an early breakfast hosted by Hall of Famer Junior Johnson, followed by tours led by many legends of NASCAR. The afternoon includes a presentation by Jeff Gordon and Richard Petty as they recall November 15, 1992, and what many believe is the greatest race of all time. (I was there. It has my vote.) This was the last stop on the Richard Petty retirement tour and as a bonus the championship race was red hot. Davey Allison, Bill Elliott or Alan Kulwicki all had a shot at the trophy.
Elliott won the race but Kulwicki grabbed the title by the closest margin in Cup history. (That is until the tie of last season.)
NASCAR Hall of Fame caps the day as exhibits come to life through the stars that made them famous. Legends of the sport, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison, Ned Jarrett, Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Hammond, Junior Johnson, Tom Higgins, Dale Inman, Glen Wood, Leonard Wood and Bud Moore, all sign in for a intimate evening of storytelling, fan question and answer sessions with exclusive up close and personal insights into the legends behind the exhibits.
The inductees for the Class of 2012:
RICHIE EVANS – Driver (b. 7-23-41 – d. 10-24-85)
Hometown: Rome, N.Y.
Starts: 1,300 (estimated)
Wins: 475 (estimated)
The recognized “king” of Modified racing, Evans captured nine NASCAR Modified titles in a 13-year span, including eight in a row from 1978-85.
In the first year of the current NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour format in 1985, Evans won 12 races, including a sweep of all four events at Thompson, Conn.
Evans ranked No. 1 in the 2003 voting of the “NASCAR All-Time Modified Top 10 Drivers,” and he was named one of NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers” in 1998.
DALE INMAN – Crew Chief (b. 7-19-1936)
Hometown: Level Cross, North Carolina
Behind every legendary driver, there is usually a legendary wrenchman.
That was Dale Inman, without whom Richard Petty might never have been The King.
Inman, Petty’s crew chief at Petty Enterprises for nearly three decades, set records for most wins (193) and championships (eight) by a crew chief.
Inman won seven of those championships with inaugural Hall Of Fame Inductee Petty (1964, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, and 1979), and another one in 1984 with Terry Labonte.
Credited with revolutionizing the crew chief position, Inman’s standout year was 1967. That season, Inman and Petty won a NASCAR-record 27 races – 10 of them consecutively. All 27 victories were in the same car they built a year earlier.
Inman retired from NASCAR in 1998, and in 2008, helped unveil the first artifact at the NASCAR Hall of Fame – the Plymouth Belvedere that Petty drove to 27 wins in 1967.
DARRELL WALTRIP – Driver (b. 2-5-47)
Hometown: Owensboro, Ky.
A three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion (1981-82, ’85), Waltrip won all three with legendary driver/owner Junior Johnson. Waltrip is tied with Bobby Allison for third all-time in series victories with 84. His 59 poles rank fifth all-time in NASCAR Sprint Cup history. He competed from 1972-2000, another highlight being his 1989 Daytona 500 victory in a Rick Hendrick-owned Chevrolet.
Waltrip’s first series title came in 1981, when he finished with 12 wins and 21 top fives in 31 races. He won the title by 53 points over Bobby Allison. In his second championship season, 1982, he finished with 12 wins and 20 top 10s in 30 races, sweeping both races at four tracks (Nashville, Bristol, Talladega and North Wilkesboro). In his third championship season, 1985, Waltrip finished with three wins and 21 top 10s in 28 races.
Waltrip and his wife, Stevie, reside in Franklin, Tenn. He was nicknamed “Jaws” during his career because of an outspoken demeanor. He currently is a commentator on FOX’s NASCAR broadcasts. He was named one of NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers” in 1998.
GLEN WOOD – Driver/Owner (b. 7-18-25)
Hometown: Stuart, Va.
Glen Wood laid the foundation for the famed Wood Brothers racing team as a driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Competing on a semi-regular basis, mostly at tracks close to his southern Virginia home, Wood won four times – all at Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. His best season was 1960 during which Wood won three times and posted six top-five and seven top-10 finishes in just nine races. He also won 14 poles during a 62-race career.
Wood, of course, is best known for his collaboration with brothers Leonard and Delano in Wood Brothers Racing. The Stuart, Va.-based team, which dates to 1950 and remains active, has amassed 97 victories in 1,353 races. The team’s all-time roster of drivers is a virtual who’s who of NASCAR and includes David Pearson, Curtis Turner, Marvin Panch, Fireball Roberts, Dan Gurney, Tiny Lund, Parnelli Jones, Junior Johnson, Cale Yarborough, Fred Lorenzen and Bill Elliott.
The Wood Brothers have excelled outside the NASCAR world as well, winning the 1965 Indianapolis 500 with Jim Clark.
CALE YARBOROUGH – Driver (b. 3-27-39)
Hometown: Timmonsville, S.C.
As competitive as the sport has always been, NASCAR has had very few dynasties. Cale Yarborough’s reign in the late 1970s, though, was one of them.
His string of three consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championships from 1976-78 was unprecedented – and unmatched until 2008, when Jimmie Johnson was crowned champion for the third straight year. Johnson won a fourth consecutive title in 2009.
During his three-year dominance, Yarborough won 28 races – nine in 1976, nine in ’77 and 10 in ’78. His final championship points margin in those three years was never fewer than 195 points and was as much as 474 in 1978.
Those three years made Yarborough’s career, but he enjoyed success before and after. The fiery competitor was the series championship runner-up in 1973 and ’74 and again in 1980.
Yarborough totaled 83 victories in his 31-year career, ranks sixth all-time. His 69 poles rank third all-time. And he won the Daytona 500 four times (1968, ’77, ’83-84), a mark that ranks second only to Richard Petty’s seven.
Source: NASCAR Hall of Fame