NASCAR will announce its next round of five Hall of Fame inductees Wednesday (May 22) evening after a day of "discussion and debate" in Charlotte by those privileged with a vote. I don’t have a vote and since none of the five I urged the voters to choose last year made the final cut, it makes my job easy this year.
Last year Curtis Turner was my top
choice, followed by Fireball Roberts, Joe Weatherly and Fred Lorenzen. Smokey Yunick, not on the official ballot,
was a write-in candidate.
Those are still my top five. Only this year, for sentimental reasons,
I’m moving Lorenzen, NASCAR’s original “Golden Boy,” to the top of the
Lorenzen was my favorite driver when
I first became a NASCAR fan in the early ‘60s.
He was the first driver ever to win more than $100,000 in a season. In 1963 he finished third in points, despite
running only 29 of 55 races. He missed
most of one season during a Ford boycott and then walked away from the sport
near the peak of his career (although he made a brief comeback), finishing with 26 wins in just 158
starts. Despite being a Yankee from Chicago, Lorenzen also
was a favorite of southern fans.
But that’s not why he’s my
sentimental favorite this year. You see
Lorenzen is suffering from dementia and now lives in a Chicago-area nursing
home. He reportedly has his good days
and his bad.
Here’s an opportunity for the powers in NASCAR to make
Wednesday a good day for Lorenzen – before it’s too late.
Those returning to the ballot again this year along with my picks are Rick Hendrick, Richard
Childress, Raymond Parks, Tim Flock, Red Byron, Benny Parsons, Jerry Cook, H.
Clay Earles, Anne B. France, Ray Fox, Jack Ingram, Bobby Isaac, Les Richter, T.
Wayne Robertson, Ralph Seagraves and Wendell Scott.
New to the ballot are Dale Jarrett, two-time Daytona 500 winner
and 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion; Maurice Petty, who built more than 200
race winning engines for Petty Enterprises; 1960 champ Rex White; O. Bruton
Smith, owner of race tracks and Speedway Motorsports Inc.; and Larry Phillips, a
dominate force on NASCAR’s short tracks.
All, I'm sure, belong in the HOF and will be voted in at some point.
But notice someone not on the list? Once
again Yunick didn’t even receive a nomination.
The nominating committee is heavily dominated by the France family and
NASCAR officials and Yunick was never a favorite of those groups.
Oh well, there’s always next year for Yunick.
Just put Lorenzen in the HOF now. Before it's too late.