This past Wednesday, the NASCAR Hall of Fame voting panel met in Charlotte to select the next five inductees to be inducted into the Hall at the end of January in 2015 — Bill Elliott, Fred Lorenzen, Wendell Scott, Joe Weatherly and Rex White. Did they get it right, though? I guess Hall of Fame selection is somewhat subjective, to a point, and everyone’s entitled to their own opinions. But I’m not sure I agree with the way voting’s been going the last couple of years or so.
Nothing against the guys who have been inducted, to this point, or the ones who will be inducted come January. But I’m not so sure now is the time for some of the more recent ones. I get that the NASCAR Hall of Fame wants to have some more modern legends in the mix to attempt to drive up interest, therefore attendance, to the Hall of Fame and Museum. But is that fair to the older legends?
Yes, I admit that when I made my predictions in this blog space on Tuesday, I threw in Rick Hendrick’s name, and he’s an owner that’s still beyond active in the sport. Heck, he’s the reigning championship car owner. But I did that, knowing that the NASCAR Hall of Fame has recently developed the habit of throwing at least a name or two in there that the newer fans are familiar with.
But at what cost? Raymond Parks and Red Byron still aren’t in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. In case some of you are unfamiliar with those two names, they’re NASCAR’s first champion car owner and driver. Nobody else will ever be first again, at least when it comes to being crowned champion at NASCAR’s top level. Both men have passed, but in the early days of the Hall, there was a chance to get them in with Parks still alive to relish in the honor.
No, I’m not saying that inductees should be chosen based on life expectancy, but shouldn’t some of the first legends of the sport have been some of the first guys into the Hall of Fame? I think so.
I’m not saying that guys like Rusty Wallace and Bill Elliott aren’t championship worthy, but aren’t there guys who came before them with similar stats still waiting to get in? Sure, unless Elliott got in because his fans utilized the vote early and vote often method of getting their favorite driver voted Most Popular so many times. But I really don’t think that’s what he’s being inducted for.
That’s not to say that I’m completely in disagreement with the whole 2015 class. I am glad to see the Wendell Scott finally got in. And while the official list of inductees didn’t match my predictions, I understand and agree with inductions of Fred Lorenzen, Joe Weatherly and Rex White. And again, I’m not suggesting that Elliott isn’t championship caliber. I just think that maybe his induction should come maybe at least a few more years down the road. And maybe Wallace also got in a few years too early with his induction earlier this year.