I got my first taste of auto racing in the summer of 1954, I was 10 years old. My dad owned a jalopy and my uncle Flip (honest to God that was what everyone called him) drove the car on dirt bull-rings in western Michigan. Flip put me on his lap a few times and took me around the track in early practice (rules were pretty lax back then). The excitement, the smells of gas and oil, the dirt, the heat, the sound of the engine and seeing the crowd from the seat of the car - it's embedded in my brain forever. I cherish those memories.
Those driver's were rough old hoots; flimsy little helmets, coveralls and street shoes - throw in a cigarette or cigar while driving, maybe even a "take" or two of some moonshine in between races. That was, as they call it, "Back in the day."
So, just who should be next? What five should be rewarded? For me, being totally honest, I don't know. I really don't. Of the nominees, there is a bunch I have no memory of; but to say they don't deserve to be inducted would be grave error on my part. To do it right, for me to judge, I would have to go back and research each and every individual, all 25 of them - and especially the ones I don't recognize. I'm not going to do that.
Of the five new nominees I would not include Rusty Wallace. Ralph Seagraves, Ray Fox and others I don't remember (and haven't Google'd them to pretend like I do). As far as Rusty is concerned, it's not that I don't think he's worthy of the Hall of Fame - it's that I don't believe it's his time yet. Surely, his day will come.
My choices probably aren't fair; they're based on ones I "cheered" for, ones I came to know (well, not personally) and in a way loved, as a racing fan does. You know what I mean, right? I'm going with those I remember, old ones and maybe a toss of someone of newer era.
Benny Parsons - damn, I loved Benny in and out of the car. And what he brought to the broadcast booth will never be repeated.
Leonard Wood - this man, this team, The Wood Brothers, placed a mark (and continues to) on NASCAR racing that will be remembered forever.
Richard Childress - what needs to be said that we don't all know?
I'm going to mostly leave it at that - however, I was a true Buck Baker and Fireball Roberts fan.
Let the damage to my integrity begin - Bless each and every nominee - it's only from my ignorance I may not have included you.