Last weekend, along with breaking news about the induction process for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, writer David Poole invited readers to submit their nominations for the first five to be honored. The hall, in Charlotte, N.C., won't open in 2010, so there's plenty of time for debate. In this follow-up, Poole contrasts fans' picks with his.
Let's review your feedback about who should be in the first class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame when it opens next year.
It comes as no surprise to me that there was a pretty solid agreement that Bill France Sr., Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty and David Pearson should be in the first class. I think those four are absolute slam-dunks and always have.
It also makes sense that the decision on a fifth inductee is split. Junior Johnson, who would be my fifth pick unless somebody makes a strong case I can't imagine, had only a slight advantage over Lee Petty, the patriarch of the Petty family.
I had Lee Petty and Bill France Jr. in my second year's class, mainly because I think putting a member of each of those families in the hall in the each of the first two years strongly emphasizes their contributions while still touching all the bases.
From that point on, there was a wide range of support. Fireball Roberts, Tim Flock, Smokey Yunick, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison and the Wood Brothers were in the next tier. It actually did surprise me a little that Allison and Darrell Waltrip didn't get more support than they did.
Some fans think more than five a year should be inducted. I like that number for two reasons.
First, it ought to be hard to get into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. We'll be seven or eight classes into this and people will still not have made the cut that most everybody agrees deserve recognition.
The second reason is the induction ceremony itself. If you're going to have 10 people going in at once, if you give each inductee his due, then the ceremony is going to last four or five hours. Nobody needs that.
A couple of people complained that I didn't put Bill Elliott on my list of candidates. That's because Elliott is still driving. I did list Terry Labonte, though, and he might do some racing this year. Just to be clear, Bill Elliott will be in the hall as soon as he is eligible.
That got me to thinking about guys who might be in the same category. Which active drivers have already done enough to make them certain hall of famers?
Jeff Gordon, of course, is first on that list. He'll have at least four championships and perhaps somewhere around 90 to 100 wins, if not more, before he's done. That's a no-brainer.
There's Elliott, as I said. I would add Mark Martin, Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson to the list. Bobby Labonte is close.
I didn't have Ray Evernham on my list because I still consider him active, too. But he's an automatic. Like him or not, Chad Knaus will be there some day.
Motor Racing Network anchor Barney Hall was on my list and he's still active, but I think Barney is The Man and I couldn't make the list without him.
Maybe Ken Squier, Chris Economaki and Hal Hamrick should have made the list, too, but it's hard for somebody in the media to be objective about the media.
Feel free to keep offering your feedback here, and don't forget that after the list of the first 25 nominees comes out in June fans will get the chance to actually vote on the first five and have those votes count. The fan ballot will count as one of the 48 votes that decide the first group of inductees. - www.thatsracin.com
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