2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame Class Inducted
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone on January 29, 2014 | 9:05 P.M. EST
Fireball Roberts, Tim Flock, Jack Ingram, Dale Jarrett and Maurice Petty were inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Wednesday night. (Photo: Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Maurice Petty, Fireball Roberts, Tim Flock, Jack Ingram and Dale Jarrett were inducted as members of the 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame Class Wednesday night.
The quintet was voted into the Hall of Fame by the 54-member voting panel from an original group of 25 nominees.
Petty was the chief engine builder at Petty Enterprises and became the fourth member of the dynasty inducted into the Hall of Fame following his older brother Richard, father Lee and cousin Dale Inman. The man called “Chief” help propel Richard Petty to a majority of his 200 career wins and seven premier series championships.
“It's an honor and a privilege for me to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame,” said Petty, who was introduced by “King” Richard Petty. “Who would have thought growing up that there would be guys, four of us, out of a small, rural country community that would be in a North Carolina Hall of Fame.
“I want to thank my wife Patricia for taking care of the children, looking after them, taking care of the home, paying all the bills, and supporting me, allowing me to work and accomplish the things that I did. I want to thank all the people who worked for Lee, Richard and me at Petty Enterprises, including Dale Inman. We were one of the most successful teams in NASCAR history.”
Roberts, who got his nickname from his days as a hard-throwing pitcher in high school, is considered by many as perhaps the greatest driver never to win a NASCAR title. He was arguably stock car racing’s first superstar and often came up big to win some of the sport’s biggest events including the Daytona 500 and Southern 500.
“We are proud that our grandfather, who sacrificed his life to racing, is being honored by NASCAR, the organization that set the scene for a life well lived,” said Roberts’ grandson Matty McDaniel. “Thank you to all of those on the nominating committee and voting panel. I'm sure our grandfather would be pleased to know that he was part of such a wonderful class of inductees.
“There is no doubt that our grandfather would have shared this special night with everyone who influenced and had an impact on him during his career, including his family, friends, colleagues and fans. Some of the people he'd want to individually thank for all they did for him are Irwin Speedy Spiers, Pete DePaolo, Marshall Teague, Red Vogt, Bob Fish, Ray Fox, Smokey Yunick, John Holman, Ralph Moody, Ned Jarrett, and all of his fans.”
Ingram is considered what is now known as the Nationwide Series greatest drivers. Known as “The Ironman,” Ingram won three consecutive late model sportsman championships in 1972-1974 and added Busch Series titles in 1982 and 1985 to his resume. Ingram ended up with 31 career wins with all but two coming on short tracks.
“I'm honored to be here tonight beyond words,” said Ingram. “This is a major lifetime achievement for me. While I've won driving the car, I had plenty of help and support along the way, otherwise I wouldn't be here tonight.”
Ingram shared a story of how NASCAR came to his support during a particularly tough experience.
“I was racing over at Harris Speedway in Ruffin County, and it was on a year with NASCAR and I won the track championship, and the last race of the season, I won a 100 lap feature and the check bounced, and I took it over to Northwestern Bank, and actually I knew the manager, and he called down to Fire City where it was written,” Ingram explained. “He said, ain't no money there. I called NASCAR from his office, and they said, where will you be in about 10 minutes? I said I'll stay right here, and I gave them the number for his office. I think it was Pat Purcell. Pretty mean guy. He called me and told me to take that check to Fire City and cash it.
“That made a big, big huge impact on me. I took it down there and walked in that door. They handed me five 100 dollar bills. That kept my family going for several months.”
Flock was a two-time NASCAR champion and in 187 starts racked up 39 victories, a total that ranks 18th on the all-time wins list. He dominated the 1955 season driving Carl Kiekhaefer’s Chrysler. That record included 18 victories, 32 top fives and 18 poles in 39 races.
“Boy, this is like being at the Super Bowl of racing tonight,” said Flock’s widow Frances. “I bet my darling and all the passed drivers are having one huge race up in heaven tonight. I can almost hear them, telling them stories, especially Tim telling the story about Jocko. Jocko was Tim's co pilot. He was a Rhesus monkey that was by Tim's side in all the races, eight races. Everyone loved Jocko. But one day in 1953, at Raleigh, North Carolina, Jocko got loose, and Tim had to pull in the pits to put Jocko out, the monkey out of the car. He came in third that day, and the extra pit stop to remove Jocko from the car cost him a big sum of money that day.
“My darling passed away 16 years ago. He would be so proud and humbled to receive this honor tonight and is still remembered for his racing career.”
Jarrett joined his father Ned as a NASCAR Hall of Fame member. The 1999 Cup Series champion and two-time winner of the Daytona 500, Jarrett was inducted by friend and music star Blake Shelton, who shared how his love of NASCAR came from his father.
“I hope you drivers realize the kind of impact you have on the lives of everyday, hard working people, people like my dad, and that's why it's my honor to be here tonight to induct Dale Jarrett into the NASCAR Hall of Fame,” said Shelton. “So on this 29th day of January 2014, I want to present the NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee and officially induct my friend Dale Jarrett into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.”
Jarrett gave an emotional acceptance speech that was also geared toward the impact of family.
"I want to begin a night of many thank yous by saying congratulations to the other inductees and their families,” said Jarrett. “As I've thought about being inducted with these four superstars of our sport, Tim Flock, Fireball Roberts, Maurice Petty and Jack Ingram, along with the 20 individuals before us, I realize that I may have the most unique perspective of this entire group of Hall of Famers. You see, I watched and lived around many of them as a kid while my Hall of Fame father was racing against them.
“I've been blessed with four wonderful children that never question why I had to be away from home so much but rather they were always there to make my day better regardless of how my day went at the track. It's your support and unconditional love that drives me to succeed and most importantly, you make me strive every day to be a better father. Thank you for making me a very proud dad.”
Prior to the Induction Ceremony was the presentation of the second Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence, awarded to Chris Economaki.
Known as the “Dean of American Motorsports,” Economaki, who died in 2012 at age 91, was the editor, publisher and columnist for National Speed Sport News for more than 60 years, a weekly racing publication he began selling at race tracks at the age of 14. He began his television broadcast career with ABC in 1961 and with CBS Sports helped make the Daytona 500 one of racing’s marquee events.