Buddy Baker

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Friday 5: Questions about size of future Hall of Fame classes

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After NASCAR celebrates the ninth Hall of Fame class tonight (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN), questions may soon arise about how many inductees should be honored annually.

NASCAR inducts five people each year. When NASCAR announced eligibility changes in 2013, a former series executive said that the sanctioning body would “give strong consideration” to if five people should be inducted each year and if there should be a veteran’s committee “after the 10th class is seated.’’

The 10th class — which Jeff Gordon will be eligible for and expected to headline— will be selected later this year and honored in 2019. That gives NASCAR a year to determine what changes to make if officials follow the schedule mentioned in 2013. NASCAR has discussed different scenarios as part of its examination of the Hall of Fame.

Among the questions NASCAR could face is should no more than three people be inducted a year? Should only nominees who receive a specific percentage of the vote be inducted? Should other methods be considered in determining who enters the Hall? 

Only one of the last five classes had all five inductees selected on at least 50 percent of the ballots. Five people in the last three classes each received less than 50 percent of the vote.

The challenge is that if NASCAR reduced the number of people inducted after the Class of 2019, it could create a logjam in the coming years.

Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards (provided Edwards does not return to run a significant number of races) would be eligible for the Class of 2020.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth (provided Kenseth does not return to run a significant number of races) would be eligible for the Class of 2021.

Stewart would appear to be a lock for his year and it seems likely Earnhardt would make it as well his first year.

If the Hall of Fame classes were cut to three a year, and Stewart, Earnhardt and Kenseth each were selected in those two years, that would leave three spots during that time for others.

The nominees for this year’s class included former champions Bobby Labonte and Alan Kulwicki, crew chief Harry Hyde (56 wins, 88 poles) and Waddell Wilson (22 wins, 32 poles), car owners Roger Penske, Jack Roush and Joe Gibbs and Cup drivers Buddy Baker, Davey Allison and Ricky Rudd.

A 2019 Class that might feature Jeff Gordon, Harry Hyde, Buddy Baker and two others would still leave some worthy candidates who might not make it for a couple of years if the number of inductees is reduced.

Of course, there are those who haven’t been nominated that some would suggest should be, including Smokey Yunick, Humpy Wheeler, Buddy Parrott, Kirk Shelmerdine, Neil Bonnett, Harry Gant and Tim Richmond. That could further jumble who makes it if the number of inductees is reduced.

Those are just some of the issues NASCAR could face as it examines if any changes need to be made.

2. Hall of Fame Classes and vote totals

Note: NASCAR did not release vote totals for the inaugural class (2010 with Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Junior Johnson, Bill France Sr., and Bill France Jr.). Below are the other classes with the percent of ballots each inductee was on:

2018 Class

Robert Yates (94 percent)

Red Byron (74 percent)

Ray Evernham (52 percent)

Ken Squier (40 percent)

Ron Hornaday Jr. (38 percent)

2017 Class

Benny Parsons (85 percent)

Rick Hendrick (62 percent)

Mark Martin (57 percent)

Raymond Parks (53 percent)

Richard Childress (43 percent)

2016 Class

Bruton Smith (68 percent)

Terry Labonte (61 percent)

Curtis Turner (60 percent)

Jerry Cook (47 percent)

Bobby Isaac (44 percent)

2015 Class

Bill Elliott (87 percent)

Wendell Scott (58 percent)

Joe Weatherly (53 percent)

Rex White (43 percent)

Fred Lorenzen (30 percent)

2014 Class

Tim Flock (76 percent)

Maurice Petty (67 percent)

Dale Jarrett (56 percent)

Jack Ingram (53 percent)

Fireball Roberts (51 percent)

2013 Class

Herb Thomas (57 percent)

Leonard Wood (57 percent)

Rusty Wallace (52 percent)

Cotten Owens (50 percent)

Buck Baker (39 percent)

2012 Class

Cale Yarborough (85 percent)

Darrell Waltrip (82 percent)

Dale Inman (78 percent)

Richie Evans (50 percent)

Glen Wood (44 percent)

2011 Class

David Pearson (94 percent)

Bobby Allison (62 percent)

Lee Petty (62 percent)

Ned Jarrett (58 percent)

Bud Moore (45 percent)

3. Charter Switcheroo

Five charters have changed hands since last season. One will be with its third different team in the three years of the charter system.

In 2016, Premium Motorsports leased its charter to HScott Motorsports so the No. 46 team of Michael Annett could use it.

The charter was returned after that season, and Premium Motorsports sold the charter to Furniture Row Racing for the No. 77 car of Erik Jones for 2017.

With Jones moving to Joe Gibbs Racing and Furniture Row Racing not finding enough sponsorship to continue the team, the charter was sold to JTG Daugherty for the No. 37 team of Chris Buescher for this season. (The No. 37 team had leased a charter from Roush Fenway Racing last year).

So that will make the third different team the charter, which originally belonged to Premium Motorsports, has been with since the system was created.

4. Dodge and NASCAR?

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne excited fans when he said in Dec. 2016 about Dodge that “it is possible we can come back to NASCAR.’’

One report last year stated that Dodge decided not to return to NASCAR, and another countered that report.

While questions remain on if Dodge will return to NASCAR, Marchionne announced this week at the Detroit Auto Show that he’ll step down next year, and that Fiat Chrysler will release a business plan in June that will go through 2022. The company will announce a successor to Marchionne sometime after that.

Marchionne said, according to The Associated Press, that the U.S. tax cuts passed in December are worth $1 billion annually to Fiat Chrysler.

A Wall Street Journal story this week stated that Fiat Chrysler makes most of its profit from its Jeep and Ram brands, writing that those brands “have been on a roll as U.S. buyers shift to these kinds of light trucks and away from sedans, which is a segment the company has largely abandoned.’’

5. NMPA Hall of Fame

The National Motorsports Hall of Fame will induct four people into its Hall of Fame on Sunday night. Those four will be drivers Terry Labonte and Donnie Allison and crew chiefs Jake Elder and Buddy Parrott.

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War hero, legendary NASCAR team owner Bud Moore dies

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Walter M. “Bud” Moore humbly referred to himself as “an old country mechanic who loved to make (race cars) run fast,” but he was so much more.

He was a highly decorated World War II veteran, who founded an engineering company and went on to become one of the most successful team owners in NASCAR history.

A lifelong resident of Spartanburg, South Carolina, Moore passed away at the age of 92.

Born May 25, 1925, Moore enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943 at the age of 18, shortly after graduating high school. He was a machine gunner assigned to the 90th Infantry Division. 

One year later, Moore was among more than two million American and Allied forces who took part in D-Day, the largest military invasion in history.

By the time the war ended in 1945, Moore would earn two Bronze Star Medals for heroic actions and five Purple Hearts for being injured in combat – sustaining shrapnel wounds four separate times and the fifth for being shot.

While he typically downplayed his injuries or how many considered him a war hero, Moore said one of his highlights during the war was serving under General George S. Patton.

“If you asked any man in the Third Army, they’d have followed (Patton) into hell,” Moore said. “He was a commanding general who wouldn’t send you anywhere he wouldn’t go himself.”

Moore returned to Spartanburg after the war and formed Bud Moore Engineering in 1947.

“Three of us from Spartanburg, Bill Eubanks, Cotton Owens and I decided that racing was a way to make a living with this sport,” Moore said.

After serving as crew chief for Buck Baker’s NASCAR Grand National championship effort in 1957, Moore began his own team in 1961, one that would last through 2000, including more than 30 years with Ford.

Moore had a stellar list of drivers that raced for him including Joe Weatherly, Fireball Roberts, David Pearson, Johnny Rutherford, Rex White, Dale Earnhardt, Bobby and Donnie Allison, Bobby Isaac, LeeRoy Yarbrough, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Buddy Baker, Benny Parsons and Ricky Rudd.

Weatherly won back-to-back NASCAR Grand National championships for Moore in 1962 and 1963, while Tiny Lund won the inaugural NASCAR Grand American championship for Moore in 1968.

Among other highlights of Moore’s ownership career: Parnelli Jones won the 1970 Sports Car Club of America Trans-Am championship and Bobby Allison won the 1978 Daytona 500.

In addition to his two Grand National championships and one Grand American title, Moore earned 63 wins, 298 top fives and 463 top 10s in 958 races as an owner in NASCAR’s premier series.

Moore was part of the second class to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2011.

“It’s an honor to be one of the first 10 inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame,” Moore said in his acceptance speech. “It means a lot to see my contribution as a car owner recognized like this.

“My daughter-in-law once asked me how I wanted to be remembered. The answer is simple: One who made many contributions to building the sport, whose handshake was good as any contract, who always gave a straight answer. Most of all to be remembered as a man who loved his family, his country and the sport of racing.”

Moore is survived by sons Daryl (wife Carol), Brent (wife Nancy) and Greg (fiancé Roberta), grandchildren: Melissa Moore Padgett (Tommy), Candace Moore Glover (Tommy), Benjamin Moore (Kristen), Thomas Moore, and Brittany Moore, along with seven great-grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren.

He is also survived by brothers, Ralph, William, and Richard Moore and sister, Ann Moore Elder. He was preceded in death by his wife of 64 years, Betty Clark Moore, and his brothers, Charles, Cecil and Donald Moore and sisters, Edith Moore Gregory and Helen Moore McKinney.

Services and arrangements will be announced at a later date.

NASCAR Chairman Brian France said: “Many choose the word ‘hero’ when describing athletes who accomplish otherworldly sporting feats. Oftentimes, it’s an exaggeration. But when detailing the life of the great Bud Moore, it’s a description that fits perfectly. Moore, a decorated veteran of World War II, served our country before dominating our sport as both a crew chief and, later, an owner.

“On behalf of all of NASCAR, I offer my condolences to Bud’s family, friends and fans. We will miss Bud, a giant in our sport, and a true American hero.”

NASCAR Hall of Fame Executive Director Winston Kelley said: “First and foremost, on behalf of everyone at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, we offer our most sincere condolences to the entire Moore family. Walter “Bud” Moore was truly a hero in every sense of the word. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary describes a hero as: ‘A person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities.’ Many may fit one of these categories but very few fit into each. Bud left an indelible mark on NASCAR. We are humbled that he considers his crowning achievement as his induction in the second class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, one of our first 10 inductees. That alone speaks to the magnitude of his accomplishments and contributions to NASCAR as both a championship owner and crew chief.”

Edsel B. Ford II said, “All of us involved in Ford’s racing program mourn the passing of Bud Moore.  He embodied the true meaning of the word hero, from storming the beaches of Normandy during D-Day in World War II to working his way up to the top levels of both the SCCA and NASCAR as a championship car owner.  Bud changed the lives of countless drivers and crew members for several decades on his way to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, but he was a humble, simple man who never forgot his South Carolina roots.  A loyal Ford man and a man of honor.   We send our deepest condolences to his sons Greg, Daryl and Brent.”

Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch said, “I got to know Bud back in the 1980s and he was one of a kind. He was a teacher of our sport, a blue-collar team owner who helped many drivers become legends and better men. Oh, the stories he would tell about the early days of the sport when he, (MRN’s) Barney Hall, Dick Brooks (former driver and MRN analyst) and I would play golf. He would always put a smile on your face. Bud was a true pioneer and building block of our sport. And his legacy, especially here at Talladega, will live on.”

WALTER M. “BUD” MOORE

Hometown: Spartanburg, S.C.

Born: May 25, 1925

NASCAR championships: 1962 and 1963 Grand National title; 1968 Grand America title; also was crew chief on Buck Baker’s 1957 championship team.

Career starts: 958

Wins: 63

Poles: 43

Daytona 500 wins: 1 (1978) plus three qualifying races (1961, 1962 and 1965)

Most wins at one track: 7 at Richmond (1961, 1962, 1963, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1984)

Second-most wins at one track: 5 at Talladega (1975, 1975, 1976, 1979, 1983)

Ryan: Who will be in the 2018 NASCAR Hall of Fame class? One voter’s early read

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The official discussion about the ninth class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame will take place sometime in late May when more than 50 voters will gather together.

But more than eight weeks before that meeting (and subsequent vote) in a windowless room at the Charlotte Convention Center, the discussion of potential 2018 inductees began Wednesday night with the unveiling of the 20 nominees on NASCAR America.

Joe Gibbs, Roger Penske, Davey Allison, Bobby Labonte and Red Farmer have been added to a ballot that will include holdovers Buddy Baker, Robert Yates, Ricky Rudd, Mike Stefanik, Waddell Wilson, Harry Hyde, Jack Roush, Alan Kulwicki, Larry Phillips, Ray Fox, Ray Evernham, Red Byron, Ken Squier, Herschel McGriff and Ron Hornaday Jr.

For this voter, every candidate’s resume and record carefully will be considered, but the ballot seems clear cut.

LOCKS. My general rule is once you have my vote, your name stays on my ballot as long as you are eligible. So there are two names that fit that category.

Evernham: It isn’t so much his three championships as a crew chief as his role as an influencer. So many parts of modern-day management of a race team – including pit crews, strategies and car building – began with Evernham, who also had a successful run as team owner and TV analyst.

Byron: His statistics aren’t gaudy, but he is the first champion of NASCAR’s premier series, and that counts for something.

LIKELY. I’m leaning toward these names on my ballot.

Baker: In the same category as 2017 inductee Benny Parsons, Baker was a respected Daytona 500 winner before becoming a beloved broadcaster

Yates: His current battle with cancer has put a spotlight on his career achievements as both an ace engine builder and a championship car owner.

POSSIBLES. The last name could come from this group.

Gibbs: The election of Rick Hendrick and Richard Childress underscored that a team owner’s greatness can be respected even while still active.

Roush: See above.

Penske: Ditto.

Kulwicki: One of NASCAR’s greatest underdog stories.

Where Are They Now? 1970 Daytona 500 winner Pete Hamilton

Photo courtesy Daytona International Speedway
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It’s been 47 years but Pete Hamilton vividly remembers February 22, 1970 – the greatest day of his racing career – as if it was yesterday.

“To tell you the truth, I don’t know if I necessarily expected anything grand to happen that day,” Hamilton told NASCAR Talk.

Having signed just weeks earlier to run an abbreviated 16-race schedule for Petty Enterprises, the Massachusetts native found himself in the 12th edition of the Daytona 500, driving the No. 40 Plymouth Superbird with its renowned high rear spoiler.

While the pressure of driving for team owners Lee and Richard Petty and in the “Great American Race” may have made other drivers nervous, such was not the case for Hamilton.

pete-hamilton-daytona-beach-journal
Photo courtesy Daytona Beach Morning Journal

In just the second Daytona 500 of his career (he finished 44th the year before), Hamilton was cool, calm and collected.

And it was those same attributes that led Hamilton to win NASCAR’s biggest race, beating the best of the best, including Petty, A.J. Foyt, Buddy Baker, Bobby Allison and David Pearson.

When Richard Petty’s engine expired just seven laps into the 500, Hamilton became the standard bearer for Petty Enterprises and he did not disappoint.

Having qualified ninth, Hamilton ran a patient and methodical race, slowly working his way up through the field. He led two times for four laps along the way until he got into a late-race battle with future NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson.

Pearson had dominated the race, leading 82 laps across five different points, including laps 176-191. But Pearson and his Holman-Moody Ford could not hold off Hamilton, who led the final nine laps en route to victory lane.

“We had ran fast, and I think we ran a little faster than Richard, but I knew that I had a lot to learn,” Hamilton told NASCAR Talk.

“By about three-quarters of the race, we were in third place, and then I passed Bobby Allison and got behind David Pearson and was able to pass him and take the lead. That was pretty damn thrilling for this Yankee boy.

“The last 20 laps or so, David and I fought our hearts out, slipping and sliding. We didn’t beat on each other, but we came damn close, and I was fortunate enough to get the best of that deal.”

The 27-year-old Hamilton, with a winning speed of 149.601 mph, beat Pearson by three car lengths, the only two drivers to finish on the lead lap. It was the fourth time Petty Enterprises had won the “Great American Race” in its 12-year history at that point (it would eventually win the 500 nine times, including seven by Richard Petty).

Remember, this was 1970, so there was no radio communication between teams and drivers. Even though he was the first to take the checkered flag, Hamilton wasn’t completely sure he had won.

So he did something unique in Daytona 500 annals:

“When I took the checkered flag, I made a decision at that point that I wasn’t going to let off. I was going to drive an extra lap just to make damned sure that I was the one in front,” Hamilton said with a laugh.

“That lap after the end of the race, I still was running wide open all the way around. Finally, when I got into turns 3 and 4, I began to slow down. It was a pretty thrilling thing.

“When I got into victory circle I remember I couldn’t stop smiling. Maurice Petty was my crew chief. We had a big old hug and a big old happy time, along with all the guys that had worked on the car.”

The 1970 season would go on to be the best of Hamilton’s NASCAR Grand National career. He also won both races at Talladega that season, and won the 1971 Daytona 500 qualifying race.

All told, Hamilton made 64 Grand National starts, won four races, and earned 26 top-five and 33 top-10 finishes plus three poles.

He retired as a driver after the 1973 season and began building race car chassis. He also built a seven-building warehouse and office complex in suburban Atlanta that he still owns today.

Former champion Darrell Waltrip (seen talking on tv screen) addresses a gathering of Daytona 500 winners in 2005 including Pete Hamilton (left) and Bobby Allison. (Photo by Getty Images).

Now 74, Hamilton is retired and splits his time between Georgia and New England. While he hasn’t attended a NASCAR race since the 50th Daytona 500 in 2008, he said “I’m still an avid NASCAR fan. I watch the majority of the races on TV.”

Then he added with a laugh, “My wife tells me I watch the start of the race, sleep through the middle and then wake up for the end. I don’t know how the hell I wake up for the end, but I manage to see the end of most of the races. She winds up watching most of the race instead of my sorry ass.”

Hamilton will be watching the 59th Daytona 500 this Sunday, but don’t be surprised if his mind goes back 47 years at some point during the day.

“I have a very vivid memory of racing that day with guys like Buddy Baker, Charlie Glotzbach, Bobby and Donnie Allison, and David Pearson,” he said. “It makes you feel real good and proud of what we accomplished together.

“It wasn’t a ‘me’ thing, it was a ‘we’ thing. It took everybody that was on the car to make the thing really go. I was just the driver, the pilot.”

Let us know who you would like to hear about from the past and email Jerry Bonkowski at jerry.bonkowski@Nbcuni.com with your suggestion.

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Who might make up the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2018?

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Now that the eighth class was inducted Friday into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, what’s next?

Rather, who’s next – as in who will be the next quintet of inductees in the 2018 class?

Historically, many of those who come close but fall short of being inducted one year are among the favorites for the following class.

If that holds true again when voters gather in May to select the 2018 class (the field of 20 nominees is expected to be announced late next month), several potential inductees stand out.

Team owner Robert Yates, driver/team owner Alan Kulwicki and driver Red Byron were the top vote-getters who fell short for the 2017 class but were the subject of heavy discussion during last May’s selection process. It’s likely they’ll be among those getting significant consideration by Hall voters again.

Here are some of the potential inductees I see – and why – for the class of 2018:

Allstate 400 Practice

* Robert Yates was one of the most prolific engine builders and team owners during his tenure in the sport, winning the 1999 Winston Cup championship (NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett was the driver), while his engines helped power Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison to championships, as well. As an owner, his drivers won 57 Cup races. Yates belongs in the Hall – now!

Darlington Raceway Vintage Racing Festival Day 2

* Buddy Baker was a fan favorite as a driver and continued to have a big fan base when he retired from driving to become a broadcaster. While he never won a Cup championship, Baker won some of the biggest races on the circuit, including the 1980 Daytona 500 and both the World 600 and Winston 500 three times each. He was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998. Will he be everyone’s Buddy among voters this year?

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* Kulwicki won the 1992 Winston Cup championship but perished in an airplane crash less than five months later. Nicknamed “The Polish Prince” and “Special K,” Kulwicki was a classic rags to riches success story whose life was embodied by his favorite song, Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” One can only wonder how much greater success Kulwicki would have enjoyed had his life not been cut so short. There also might be sentimental reasons for Hall voters to select Kulwicki: 2018 will mark 25 years since he died.

Darlington Historic Racing Festival

* Ray Fox was a master engine builder and team owner. In 1956, working for team owner Carl Kiekhaefer, Fox built engines that won 21 of the season’s first 26 races, earning him Mechanic of the Year honors. He also built Junior Johnson’s 1960 Daytona 500 winning car, then went out on his own as an engine builder and team owner from 1962-1972, earning 14 NASCAR Grand National wins and 16 poles. After retiring and selling his team to his son, Ray Jr., Fox became a NASCAR engine inspector from 1990-1996.

Darlington Historic Racing Festival

* Harry Gant could be the biggest surprise of the class of 2018. But “Handsome Harry” certainly racked up Hall-worthy credentials in his 22-year NASCAR career, including 18 wins, 123 top-five and 208 top-10 finishes in just 474 starts. He also earned 21 Xfinity Series wins and 71 top-10s in just 128 starts. While he never won a Cup championship, he was runner-up in 1984. He also won four straight races in 1991 – at the age of 51. He retired after the 1994 season. When he visited Darlington Raceway during last year’s Throwback Weekend, Gant received one of the biggest rounds of applause of any driver past or present there. Even at the age of 77, Harry’s still as handsome and popular as ever.

57th Annual Daytona 500 - Practice

* And then there’s the wild card – but certainly deserving for induction nonetheless, Ron Hornaday Jr. One of the most versatile drivers around (he ran in NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series), it was in a Truck that Hornaday had the most success. He won 51 races in 360 starts (an average of one win every seven starts), is the only Truck driver to win four championships (1996, 1998, 2007 and 2009) and was runner-up in 2008. Hornaday was nominated last season but didn’t make the cut. But come this May, it won’t be a shock if he does this time.

That’s how I see it. How about you? Write in Comments who you think will make the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2018.

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