NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Day

Hall of Fame

Voters will gather today to determine the 2014 Hall of Fame class. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)

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Editor’s note: Dustin Long is one of the NASCAR Hall of Fame voters.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - What makes someone a Hall of Famer?

It’s easy in baseball. Someone who collects at least 3,000 hits will be enshrined. Or a pitcher who wins at least 300 games. In other sports, championships can provide the litmus test.

NASCAR offers no guidelines on what Hall of Fame selections should be based upon. The process is complicated because it’s difficult to compare many of the 25 nominees. Some were drivers. Others were crew members. Some were executives. Others were promoters.

How does one rate what a driver did compared to a track promoter? What about an engine builder with a car owner?

It’s one of the many questions the 54 voters (there’s also a fan vote) must consider before casting their ballot for the five they think belongs. Voters will gather today at the Charlotte Convention Center to determine the 2014 Hall of Fame class.

It will not be an easy decision for many.

“I’m a little lost, a little befuddled on which direction to go in," voter Kyle Petty said.

Petty notes that there are no nominated drivers with more than 50 career wins.

That’s why he looks beyond performance to contributions to the sport. Measuring that can be subjective. While Fireball Roberts never won a championship, he was considered the sport’s first superstar. It was nearly enough for Roberts to make the Hall of Fame last year.

Roberts and Buck Baker finished with the same number of votes for the last spot in this year’s class, leading to a re-vote. Baker earned the spot. Some voters said last year that the difference was Baker’s two championships.

“To me the Hall of Fame is for people who really were movers and shakers in the sport from day one," said Motor Racing Network announcer Barney Hall, a voter.

“I’ve been in this thing since 1958. You see them all come and go. Some of the characters that were in the early years were very instrumental in getting this thing to where it is today. So you can’t rate any one person, as far as I’m concerned, in the Hall of Fame by just one thing he did."

So who belongs?

Richard Petty, a member of the inaugural Hall of Fame class and a voter, says one of his votes will go to his brother, Maurice, who was his engine builder.

“Nobody in racing has ever accomplished as much as he has in engine building," Richard Petty said. “Back when they built engines, they didn’t have dynos. They didn’t have 20 people working for them. It was two or three of them and they built one engine a week. They done it by hand."

Among the new nominees this year is track operator Bruton Smith. How does one compare him to a Rick Hendrick or Richard Childress, car owners who have won multiple championships, or Raymond Parks, who won the first series title as a car owner?

“You may overlook the fact how many years someone like Bruton has put into the sport well before a lot of us may remember," NASCAR President Mike Helton said. “His efforts many, many many years ago particularly in (Charlotte) and this area were instrumental in the growth of NASCAR."

It was at Smith’s Charlotte Motor Speedway that held the first night race for a large track, showing tracks more than 1 mile could add lights, leading to night races at Daytona, Texas, Kentucky and other tracks. That’s a significant contribution to the sport.

Or will voters be put off by his combativeness, including comments made this week that he might move the fall Charlotte race to Las Vegas Motor Speedway and withhold voting for him?

These are just some of the questions voters take with them when they enter the room to debate candidates and, ultimately, select five.

The 25 nominees for the 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame Class

Red Byron - first NASCAR champion

Richard Childress - Won six Cup titles as an owner and 11 overall national series crowns

Jerry Cook - Six-time modified champion

H. Clay Earles - Martinsville Speedway founder

Tim Flock - Two-time Cup champion who won 39 races in 187 starts

Ray Fox - Car owner/engine builder

Anne B. France - Wife of Bill France Sr. who served as secretary and treasurer of NASCAR

Rick Hendrick - 10-time car owner Cup champion; won 13 overall national series titles

Jack Ingram - Two-time champion of what is now Nationwide Series and three-time Late Model Sportsman champ

Bobby Isaac - 1970 Cup champion who won 37 races and 49 poles in career

Dale Jarrett - 1999 Cup champion who won 32 races, including three Daytona 500s

Fred Lorenzen - Won 26 races, including 1965 Daytona 500 and World 600

Raymond Parks - First champion car owner

Benny Parsons - 1973 Cup champion who won 21 races and also known for his TV work

Maurice Petty - Engine builder for all of brother Richard Petty’s seven championships

Larry Phillips - Five-time NASCAR Weekly Series champion

Les Richter - Former NASCAR and track executive already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Fireball Roberts - Won 33 races, including two Southern 500s and 1962 Daytona 500

T. Wayne Robertson - R.J. Reynolds executive who oversaw creation of the All-Star race

Wendell Scott - Only African-American to win a Cup race, winning Dec. 1, 1963 in Jacksonville, Fla.

Ralph Seagraves - Helped put NASCAR in national spotlight through Winston sponsorship

Bruton Smith - Innovative track operator, whose company owns eight tracks that host 12 Cup races and the All-Star race

Curtis Turner - Considered the Babe Ruth of stock car racing, he won 17 races, including 1956 Southern 500

Joe Weatherly - Two-time Cup champion who won 25 races; won 101 modified races, including 1953 championship

Rex White - 1960 Cup champion who won 28 races and 36 poles

Photos

  • Class of 2017
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  • Class of 2017: Benny Parsons
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  • Class of 2017: Mark Martin
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  • Class of 2017: Raymond Parks
  • Class of 2017: Raymond Parks
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  • Class of 2017: Raymond Parks
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  • Class of 2017: Rick Hendrick
  • Class of 2017: Rick Hendrick
  • Class of 2017: Rick Hendrick
  • Class of 2017: Rick Hendrick
  • Class of 2017: Rick Hendrick
  • Class of 2017: Rick Hendrick
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