Imagine a Hall of Fame without Babe Ruth or Vince Lombardi; without Wayne Gretzky or Michael Jordan. Imagine a Hall of Fame without the people who helped build a sport and change the landscape of those sports forever.
This is the problem that faces the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The NASCAR Hall of Fame has a long list of great people who helped shape the sport, including Bill France Sr., Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty. But one person the Hall of Fame is missing is Raymond Parks.
NASCAR was built by men who ran moonshine in the south during the prohibition era. One of the men who made money off this was Raymond Parks.
Parks made a name for himself throughout Atlanta throughout numerous business ventures, but he had an immense impact on the sport of NASCAR.
Parks was part of the group that founded NASCAR with Bill France Sr. at the Streamline Hotel in 1947. He also became the first championship car owner when Red Byron won the Grand National Championship (now the Sprint Cup Series) in NASCAR's inaugural season in 1948.
Parks retired in the mid-1950s, saying, "I loved racing and I loved winning, but it was costing too much money. I had to start making a living."
But Parks left a big legacy once he left the sport. His drivers included Bob Flock, Roy Hall and Curtis Turner. He also teamed with legendary mechanic Red Vogt during his first NASCAR season.
What Parks did after his retirement may have been even more important for the sport. Colleagues noticed frequent transactions between Parks and France that helped NASCAR through a few rough financial spots early on in NASCAR's history. Simply put: without Raymond Parks, NASCAR might not still be around.
Many NASCAR fans don't know who Parks is or why he was so important to the history of the sport. Until his death on June 20, 2010, he was the only person who had witnessed all of NASCAR's history.
You can vote for Parks by heading to the NASCAR Hall of Fame's website before voting closes on May 20, 2014.
At a reception for the inaugural Hall of Fame class in 2010, Mike Helton said Parks was "the heart and soul or spirit that got NASCAR started." Let's help make Parks become the heart and soul of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.