When one thinks of hall of famers in pretty much any sport, the first candidates who come to mind are probably champions. Mark Martin isn’t exactly a NASCAR champion, but he is considered on of, if not the, best driver in NASCAR history never to win a title. Besides, it’s not like he’s never finished second a bunch of times.
Why am I bringing this up now? I was recently thinking about Martin and his NASCAR Hall of Fame probability when looking over recent changes NASCAR announced to the NASCAR Hall of Fame eligibility requirements.
The previous requirements called for drivers to have competed in NASCAR for at least 10 years and then have been retired from competition or at least three years before being eligible for Hall of Fame consideration. Those criteria still apply to most, at least until the age of 55 is reached. Once a driver reaches the age of 55, he/she is eligible for Hall of Fame consideration, as long as said driver has competed for at least 10 years. That must be retired for at least three years no longer applies.
Well, Martin turns 55 next month, January 9, 2014, to be exact. Making him Hall of Fame eligible as soon as 2015. Nominees for 2015 induction are scheduled to be determined in Feb. 2014. Maybe its no coincidence that NASCAR decided, now, to change the rules. Maybe Martin wasn’t the reason for the change, but even if not, said change does seem convenient.
I don’t think there’s any doubt around the NASCAR community that Martin is NASCAR is Hall of Fame material. Okay, so he doesn’t have a championship. His other beyond impressive stats make up for that. On top of that, the Hall of Fame Voting Committee seems to throw at least one somewhat modern driver into each class of inductees to maintain fan interest in the Hall. Who better than Martin to create fan interest? After all, who doesn’t like Mark Martin? A lot of other driver have their haters, but Martin? Not so much. Here’s a driver who seems to have the love of everyone among the fan base and within the NASCAR community.
I’m normally not a betting person, but I’m betting Martin’s going to show up on the ballot of nominees sooner rather than later. And once he’s on the ballot, I don’t foresee it taking long for him to be promoted to inductee.
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Here’s a photo gallery of Mark Martin from over the years (photos courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR):