On Tuesday, the NASCAR Hall of Fame announced the inductees for next year’s class. Making the cut were Dale Inman, Glen Wood, Cale Yarborough, Richie Evans and Darrell Waltrip.
Though there were a lot of tears surrounding the announcement, all I could feel was indescribable joy at the realization that I wouldn’t have to listen to the sob stories of Darrell Waltrip and why he hasn’t been inducted yet, ever again. Thank you to the voters for sparing us all another year.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two years you’ve no doubt been witness to the frequent campaigning by the three-time champion. He was visibly devastated by not making last year’s class – he said “my, feelings are hurt” – and many went on to ask why he wasn’t included.
Waltrip is no doubt worthy of the honor of the Hall of Fame – he has three Cup Series championships and is tied with Bobby Allison and Jeff Gordon for the third spot on the all time wins list (though technically Allison has one more win than Gordon and Waltrip). And there is little question about his contributions to the sport since his retirement from driving. Few people are as visible as he is.
Still, I’m a firm believer that there are some things in life you really shouldn’t ask for. Induction into a Hall of Fame – any Hall of Fame – is one of those things. It’s just… tacky.
Isn’t it more genuine to be given an honor or award when you don’t have to ask for it?
Along the way Waltrip had a lot of supporters – many decrying what they perceived as a snub. And to some extent they were probably right – politics played a role in Waltrip not getting inducted last year. But that doesn’t mean last year’s inductees were any less deserving than Waltrip.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame was not created to glorify one single driver or drivers – it was created to celebrate the sport and those who have made it great. Turning the selection process into an open campaign and the analysis of that process into a blood sport is disrespectful to those who await induction and to those who have already been inducted.
For all those lucky enough and worthy enough to be considered for induction, the time will eventually come.
May all future Hall of Fame inductees heed Burton’s wisdom, and take note of this very long spectacle and not repeat it.