Thursday, May 24, 2012

NASCAR Hall of Fame: Class of 2013

Yesterday, the NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel decided who the deserving five are who will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  The votes were cast, and the five men were announced live from the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  The 2013 Hall of Fame Class will include Buck Baker, Cotton Owens, Herb Thomas, Rusty Wallace, and Leonard Wood.

The voting panel decided who would be in the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2013 (Courtesy Getty Images)
Buck Baker
Elzie Wylie Baker Sr., better known as Buck Baker, was born in Richburg, South Carolina on March 4, 1919.  He began his NASCAR career in 1949, and won his first race three years later at Columbia Speedway.  During his twenty-three year career, Baker won two championships (1956, 1957), 46 races, and 45 pole positions.  He was the first driver to win two consecutive championships in NASCAR's premier series.  Buck Baker retired from NASCAR in 1976, and opened up the Buck Baker Racing School.  The school, which is now operated by his wife Susan, is where Jeff Gordon drove his first stock car.  In 1990, Baker was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.  Baker died on April 14, 2002 in Charlotte, North Carolina at the age of 83.

Cotton Owens
Everett "Cotton" Owens was born on May 21, 1924 in Union, South Carolina.  In the 1950s, Owens made a name for himself in what is now known as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.  He was the champion of that series in 1953 and 1954, and had over 100 feature wins.  In 1950, Owens tried his hand at stock car racing, starting three races in NASCAR's premier division.  His first win came on February 17, 1957 on the Daytona Beach Road Course.  During his driving career, he had 9 wins and 10 poles over 160 race starts.  While he was a great driver, most of his success came as an owner.  Owens has a long list of legendary drivers who climbed into his racecars throughout his career, including David Pearson, Buddy Baker, Ralph Earnhardt, Junior Johnson, Benny Parsons, Fireball Roberts, Al Unser, and Mario Andretti.  A total of 25 drivers climbed behind the wheel, and he earned 38 victories and 29 pole positions in 291 races run.  In 1966, he was the Grand National Championship Car Owner when David Pearson won the championship.  He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2008. 

Herb Thomas
Herbert Watson Thomas was born on April 6, 1923 in Olivia, North Carolina.  Herb Thomas was a driver in NASCAR's first officially-sanctioned race at Charlotte Speedway in 1949.  His first win came at Martinsville Speedway in 1950.  During his career, Thomas picked up 48 wins and 39 poles over 228 races started.  Thomas was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1994.  On August 9, 2000, Thomas suffered a heart attack and died in Sanford, North Carolina; he was 77.

Rusty Wallace meets with fans at the NASCAR Hall of Fame (Courtesy Getty Images)
Rusty Wallace
Russell William Wallace Jr. was born on August 14, 1956 in Arnold, Missouri.  His NASCAR career began in 1980, and he won his first race at Bristol in 1986.  In 1989, Wallace won the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Championship.  Two year later, in 1991, Wallace joined with Roger Penske to drive the "Blue Deuce;" Wallace would stay with Penske until his retirement in 2005.  Wallace retired with 55 wins and 39 poles over 706 starts.  Wallace designed the Iowa Speedway, and the NASCAR Nationwide Series currently races there twice a year.  Rusty Wallace retired to the ESPN booth, and is currently an analyst for ESPN's NASCAR coverage.

Leonard Wood
Leonard Wood was born on September 22, 1934 in Stuart, Virginia.  Leonard, brother of Hall of Famer Glen and Delano Wood, helped found Wood Brothers Racing and helped innovate the modern pit stop.  Wood was the chief mechanic for the team and he helped change the jacking procedure on pit stops, from using floor jacks that weighed more than 100 pounds to the lightweight jack that is used today.  Leonard went over the wall to change tires well into his 50s, and, in 1965, Wood helped lead Jim Clark to an Indianapolis 500 victory.  Wood even innovated the way to fuel the car; he created an internal device that allowed the fuel to flow more quickly.  Wood ran the team's engine shop that made engines reliable enough to stay on par with rivals Holman-Moody and Petty Enterprises.  Wood had many legends strap into his cars throughout the years; Neil Bonnett, A.J. Foyt, Dan Gurney, and Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough.  Throughout his career, Wood's team amassed 96 wins and 117 poles in over 990 starts.

Leonard Wood, left, stands with his brother and fellow Hall of Fame member Glen Wood (Courtesy Getty Images)
For the first time in voting history, there was a tie for the fifth and final spot in the Class of 2013.  Buck Baker was picked over Fireball Roberts for the final spot.  The results of the fan vote on were, in alphabetical order: Benny Parsons, Fireball Roberts, Wendell Scott, Rusty Wallace, and Leonard Wood.  The Class of 2013 will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on February 8, 2013.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame: Class of 2013 (Courtesy Getty Images)

No comments:

Post a Comment