A few days ago, Wednesday, May 22, to be exact, NASCAR and the NASCAR Hall of Fame revealed the identities of the next five men to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in early 2014. They are: Tim Flock, Jack Ingram, Dale Jarrett, Maurice Petty, and Fireball Roberts. All of these men definitely have Hall of Fame credentials, but are some of these inductees — past and present — being inducted at the right time? And does timing of induction even matter?
The Hall of Fame and NASCAR, itself, has never said this publicly, but it has been said by many that some inductees have been inducted at the time they have been to create interest and generate higher attendance numbers for the Hall. Whether or not the NASCAR Hall of Fame owns up to it, that looks to be the case.
Logic, or at least my logic, tells me that those who have been among the annual 25 nominees for consideration the most times should go in first. After all, aren’t those 25 nominated because they’re the 25 most-fitting candidates? So the next year, after five of those 25 have been inducted, shouldn’t they automatically be among the 20 best candidates? Then top-15 the next year, and so on and so forth. Seems like the logical chain of events to me.
Of course there would be exceptions to that logic, though, as great drivers retire and then don’t gain Hall of Fame eligibility until a number of years after retirement. For instance, Jimmie Johnson is a long way from retirement, and then after retirement, there will be the time period to wait before he becomes eligible. And, love him or hate him, he already has stats that put him above some of those already in the Hall. But barring drivers becoming eligible by retirement and wait period requirements, it makes me wonder, how does a driver who has been eligible for a few years jump ahead of multi-time nominees that retired many years ago.
The drivers who make me wonder about this are Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett. And by that, I’m not suggesting they’re not NASCAR Hall of Fame material. They are, but down the road. There are drivers, crew chiefs, etc., on the nominee list that were among the nominees for the first class several years ago and have been a nominee ever since. Then Wallace gets nominated for 2013 and is chosen to be an inductee his first time on the ballott. The same goes for Jarrett, as the ballott of nominees for 2014 induction was his first time on a Hall of Fame ballott. And like Wallace just a year before, Jarrett was chosen his first time out.
Like I mentioned before, these two drivers are Hall of Fame worthy. But shouldn’t their inductions be a little farther down the line? Guess that just supports the arguement that some NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee choices are based on attempts to increase interest and attendance among the newer NASCAR fans. But should that be a determining factor?
Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (AutoRcngDaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook: NASCAR Examiner