By Patrick Reynolds
NASCAR recently announced its list of 25 candidates from which to choose the 2013 Hall of Fame class. Rusty Wallace, Wendell Scott, Ray Fox, Ralph Seagraves, and Anne France were added to the twenty names still on the ballot from the 2012 inductees.
Of my list of five who I would have voted into the Hall last year, two went in. Richie Evans and Dale Inman were enshrined during last January’s ceremony. The remaining three stay on my wish list, as do my reasons for choosing them. Two more NASCAR stars are added to make up five honorees I would induct next.
1. Curtis Turner. The “Babe Ruth of stock car racing” was victorious 17 times in NASCAR’s premiere division. Turner was an early star before construction of any stock car superspeedway with most of his wins coming on short tracks. However he did win at Darlington, Rockingham, and the convertible division. Turner sat behind the wheel for noted teams owned by the Wood Brothers, Holman-Moody, Smokey Yunick, and Junior Johnson, and was named as one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers in 1998.
2. Raymond Parks. At the time of his passing, he was the last surviving member of the group that formed NASCAR in the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach, Florida. Parks also owned the first racecar to ever win a NASCAR championship. Red Byron drove a Parks prepared machine to the first Modified title in 1948 and the Strictly Stock crown in 1949. Strictly Stock eventually evolved to what is now know as the Cup Series. He did get to see his title winning car and likeness displayed in the Hall of Fame when the exhibit finally opened. Parks’ induction into the Hall tips NASCAR’s hat to a man that had so much to do with the organization ever getting off the ground.
3. Red Byron. As mentioned with Parks, these two racers go hand in hand. Byron drove to NASCAR’s first championship of any kind. Including the first Modified and Strictly Stock championships. I felt the first Hall class should have included the first NASCAR champion in Byron. The sport is always looking for fresh, new, young talent, which is good. But too often the search for the future is done at the expense of proper respect for the past, which is bad. Byron would make an excellent choice to be inducted sooner rather than later.
4. Buck Baker. The 1956 and 1957 Cup Champion has 46 career wins which ranks him 14th on the all-time list. He is the father of Buddy Baker, a future Hall of Fame inductee in his own right. The pair of title trophies makes Baker the first man to claim consecutive crowns.
5. Glenn “Fireball” Roberts. He was a star baseball pitcher in high school, which earned him the nickname before his stock car career began. Yet the “Fireball” handle fit well with his charismatic personality that charmed race fans off the track, while his talent behind the wheel earned him respect on the track. Roberts did not claim a series championship but was one of the sport’s first superstars. He is a Daytona 500 champion, twice a Southern 500 winner, and was also named as one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers in 1998.