With each win, and each championship, a legend grew. And now, those legends have a permanent home.
The second class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame – champions all – captured over 350 victories and a dozen championships in NASCAR’s premier series. The five inductees – Bobby Allison, Ned Jarrett, Bud Moore, David Pearson and Lee Petty – make up the second class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., which was officially inducted tonight, Monday, May 23.
"This is fast becoming a night we all look forward to on the calendar," said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France, in his opening remarks during tonight’s Induction Ceremony. "To the second class, thank you for the memories and moments you gave this great sport."
The common thread each inductee shares: NASCAR premier series championships.
Allison won his lone premier series title in 1983, but his NASCAR Hall of Fame credentials may lie elsewhere. He won 84 times – tied for third on the all-time list – and three were in NASCAR’s most prominent race, the Daytona 500 (1978, ’82 and ’88). Not to be overshadowed, a proud piece of the Allison legacy: His two NASCAR Modified Series championships, in 1964-65.
"I went through a lot of things," Allison said in his acceptance speech. "I got involved with a lot of people along the way. I won some races. Struggled, got better, did poorly, got better and everything. But the bottom line, it was just an incredible career. And this involved so many people."
Two-careers-in-one landed Jarrett in the Hall. His first, that as a prolific driver, made him a NASCAR legend. His second, as an everyman broadcaster, made him a household name. Jarrett won 50 races, two NASCAR premier series championships (1961 and ’65) and two NASCAR Sportsman Division titles (1957-58), and later worked as an analyst for several networks, including MRN, CBS and ESPN.
"When it was announced several years ago there would be a NASCAR Hall of Fame, and when my name was among the original 25 nominees, my prayer from then on was to live long enough to be elected," said Jarrett. "I’ve had to work hard on my health to be able to be here and enjoy this tremendous honor … I am very humbled by this huge honor, and I don’t take it lightly."
Moore’s life is a storyteller’s dream. A World War II veteran who won five Purple Hearts, Moore went on to become one of the top owners and crew chiefs in NASCAR history. Credited with having a hand in shaping the beginnings of NASCAR, Moore won 63 premier series races as an owner, and three championships – as a crew chief for Buck Baker in 1957 and an owner for Joe Weatherly in 1962-63.
"My daughter-in-law, Carol, recently asked me how I wanted to be remembered," said Moore during his induction speech. "The answer is simple: As one who made many contributions to the building of the sport, one whose handshake was as good as any contract, who always gave a straight answer and would never sugar coat it either. But most of all, to be remembered as a man who loved his family, his country and the sport of racing."
Pearson’s 105 NASCAR premier series victories, which ranks second all-time, and three championships place him firmly on the short-list of "best NASCAR drivers ever." Pearson never competed in every race in a season, yet tallied his astonishing wins total and still won multiple championships. In his acceptance speech, Pearson gave a nod to his prime competition in the "greatest ever" argument
"I want to thank Richard Petty, too," Pearson said. "He's probably the one that made me win as many as I did. I run hard because he'd make me run hard. Sometimes he would make a mistake and I'd pass him. Of course, I didn't ever make mistakes. … I've had more fun running with him than anybody I ever run with 'cause I knew if I ever went to a racetrack and he was there, if I could beat him, I'd win the race."
The patriarch of one of the most successful families in the sport’s history, Lee Petty joins his son, Richard, in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Petty won 54 NASCAR premier series races, and was the first to win three NASCAR premier series championships. He also founded Petty Enterprise, the juggernaut that amassed 10 driver championships under his watch.
Petty, the only deceased member of the second class, was inducted into the Hall by grandsons Kyle, Mark, Ritchie and Tim Petty. Sons Richard and Maurice accepted the induction on Lee’s behalf.
"[Lee Petty] lived in his world and he didn't want anybody to tell him how to live in his world," said Richard. "His big deal was to take care of his own. If you got in the way, didn't make a whole lot of difference to him, he got you out of the way. … Hopefully he's up there somewhere saying, ‘Okay, I know I'd get there, might have to push somebody out of the way to get there.’"
The inductors for the other four inductees: MRN broadcaster Barney Hall for Bud Moore; children Dale and Glenn Jarrett and Patti Makar for Ned Jarrett; brother Donnie Allison for Bobby Allison; and former public relations director for Darlington Raceway Russell Branham and Wood Brothers co-owner Leonard Wood for David Pearson.
Special congratulatory videos opened each inductee’s segment, with a number of high-profiled names starring in each. Those involved: University of Alabama Head Football Coach Nick Saban for Bobby Allison; former NASCAR broadcaster Ken Squier for Ned Jarrett; broadcast journalist and author Tom Brokaw for Bud Moore; NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty for David Pearson; and former President of the United States George H.W. Bush for Lee Petty.
The five inductee exhibits officially open Tuesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
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