Jerry Cook’s induction into NASCAR Hall of Fame is ‘ultimate’ honor

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Before Wednesday, Jerry Cook was a member of three hall of fames dedicated to auto racing, but the “ultimate” one wasn’t one of them.

For four straight years, Cook, a six-time NASCAR Modified champion, was among the top-two candidates to receive votes that wasn’t elected into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

That changed Wednesday when Cook, a NASCAR competition administrator, was announced by NASCAR CEO and Chairman Brian France as part of the 2016 Hall of Fame Class.

“I’m just as happy as you can be, for sure,” Cook told NASCAR America. “Of all that I’ve done in all the years with the racing and then with NASCAR, this is the ultimate.”

Voted into the Hall of Fame with Cook were Bruton Smith, Terry Labonte, Curtis Turner and Bobby Isaac. Cook retired from racing in 1982 to become the Modified series’ director.

Cook was accompanied at the ceremony by his family.

“They’ve been here every year, (even) through the days when we just left when it was over,” Cook said.

Though he was eligible to vote for Hall of Fame inductees, Cook was recused since he was on the ballot. He won’t have to worry about that anymore.

“I love it,” Cook said. “I was thinking about it last night and even today there was two or three people that were waiting, hoping I got in so I could get back in that room. Before, when (NASCAR vice chairman) Mike Helton recused me, that was tough.”

Now Cook is a member of four hall of fames. He was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame in 1989, the New York State Stock Car Association Hall of Fame in 1993 and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2009.

But being part of the seventh class inducted into NASCAR’s Hall of Fame is different for Cook, who has been “NASCAR from day one” of his career.

“This is the ultimate achievement in NASCAR, in my mind,” Cook said. “I’m in a number of Hall of Fames all over the place. This one here is home.”