Do you notice in every sport how quickly the complaining starts when said sport’s hall of fame nominees and then inductees are announced? Unfortunately the status quo has been maintained in NASCAR. And as such, last week when the five new nominees were named for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the usual brain trust set forth in complaining about why another driver, owner, crew chief etc. should have been nominated instead.
However minor, some amount of controversy has surrounded the last two classes to our Hall of Fame. As I’m sure many of you recall, in the first year it was that David Pearson got passed over for the likes of Dale Earnhardt, Bill France Jr. and Sr., Richard Petty and Junior Johnson. This year, Pearson got in, but it was Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip who didn’t (and some argued should have).
So inevitably when the Hall announced the nominees for the 2012 class, there was going to be someone, somewhere, unhappy with who was selected, or as was the case, not selected. And this year it was the question of why Wendell Scott wasn’t nominated over H. Clay Earles, Bobby Isaac, Cotton Owens, Les Richter and Leonard Wood (all, incidentally, men who contributed a great deal to the sport).
The inherent problem with a hall of fame selection process is that deserving people are going to get left out year in and year out. At this very early stage of this particular hall of fame, deciding who contributed most is nothing short of difficult. Take the Junior Johnson, David Pearson debate. While Pearson is arguably the best driver ever to wheel a racecar in NASCAR, Johnson’s folk hero status (not to mention winning ways) did an immense amount of good in bringing the sport into the mainstream. It was the Silver Fox vs. The Last American Hero. How do you decide?
Currently waiting to be selected are 25 guys who did a lot for this sport – that’s not to say though that there are 25 or 50 or 100 others who aren’t on the list who didn’t do just as much. It’s just going to take time to assure all those who should be inducted, are inducted.
I ask you, be patient, be respectful of those in the nomination process and enjoy these moments to relive the history of our sport through some of our sport’s biggest names. Your guy’s time will come.