Last Saturday night, NASCAR inducted five new members into its HOF. Leonard Wood who pioneered the modern day pit stop, the 1989 premier series champion Rusty Wallace, Herb Thomas who to this day holds the record for best winning percentage in history, Cotton Owens who was one of the best behind the wheel and under the hood, and lastly Buck Baker who became NASCAR’s first ever back-to-back champion in 1957. The question is, who’s next? When you look at the list of nominees, it’s anyone’s guess who the next five could be. I’ve narrowed it down to the members I personally believe will make the cut for 2014.
- As a driver, Benny could run with the best of them. He amassed 21 career victories in the Cup series that included races such as the 1975 Daytona 500, the 1978 Southern 500 and the 1980 World 600. (Now known asthe Coke 600)
- BP was also the 1973 premiere series champion beating the likes of Cale Yarborough and Richard Petty.
- He went on a incredible streak where he finished inside the top five in points for 9 consecutive years.
- After his impressive racing career, Benny became a full time NASCAR broadcaster and one of the most beloved ones at that. He won a ESPN Emmy in 1996 and the Ace Award in 1989.
- In a career that was tragically cut short, Joe won 25 races in the Cup series that included two Southern 500′s and over 200 total NASCAR sanctioned events.
- He won the Cup title in 1962, 1963 & he was cruising to a 3rd straight in 1964 before a crash at Riverside tragically took his life at the age of 42.
- Joe was also the 1953 NASCAR Modified Champion winning 52 of 83 races that season.
- “Little Joe’s” colorful and wild personality won him the Most Popular Driver award in 1961 and also earned him multiple visits with high ranking NASCAR officials & sometimes even local police
- The youngest of the Flock brothers won two premier series championships in 1952 and 1955.
- His 39 wins in 187 starts gave him a winning percentage of 21% which ranks right up there as one of the best ever.
- Flock was a NASCAR pioneer that helped build this sport up to what it is today. His colorful personality is something hard to find in NASCAR today and was shown when he took his monkey, ”Jocko Flocko” with him in the car when he raced. That didn’t work out so well…
- His wins included two at the Daytona Beach road course which was NASCAR’s biggest event in the 1950′s.
- With driver Red Byron, Parks’ cars won the first two NASCAR Championships ever awarded; the Modified title in 1948, and the Strickly Stock in 1949. (Now the Sprint Cup Series) Raymond Parks also won the first ever NASCAR sanctioned event as an owner which was a modified race at Daytona Beach in February of 1948.
- The World War II veteran was a driving force behind the creation of NASCAR and was one of the men that attended that historic meeting at the Streamline Hotel that lead to the formation of NASCAR in 1948.
- The man they called “The Godfather of stock car racing” was like the right hand man for Bill France Sr and was later labeled by the late great Dale Earnhardt as one of NASCAR’s “unsung heroes.”
Glenn ”Fireball” Roberts
- Although he never won a championship, Fireball was one of the greatest behind the wheel of a race car. He never even tried to run the full season and still came close to a couple titles. In his rookie season, (1950) he ran less than half the races but still finished 2nd in points!
- Fireball won 33 times in NASCAR’s premier division and won his first race in just his 3rd start. He also finished inside the top 5 in 45% of the races he entered.
- Roberts is a 2 time Southern 500 winner and the 1962 Daytona 500 champion.
- Fireball continued his winning ways into the 1964 season before his tragic death in a crash during the World 600 (now the Coke 600) where his car erupted into a massive Fireball. Sadly, the NASCAR legend burned alive as fellow racers Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett tried to pull him from the wreckage.
I’ll tell you what; it was very difficult picking just five drivers from the list of possible candidates. People such as Red Vogt, Curtis Turner, Rick Hendrick, Red Byron, Fred Lorenzen and T. Wayne Robertson are just as deserving as these men in the formation and growth of the sport. Let me know who you think will be chosen to adorn the HOF jackets & rings in 2014. Thank you for reading!