CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Shortly before he died in 2007, former NASCAR champion and broadcaster Benny Parsons gave his wife a list of 10 things to do.
Some were personal: He wanted her to grow a vineyard, something he had wanted but hadn’t done.
Some were about community: He wanted her to help find a way for racing to return to North Wilkesboro Speedway.
Some were for family that remain private.
She completed those tasks, but for years, the last item on the list haunted Terri Parsons.
“The one that kept throwing me was ‘Don’t let people forget me,’ ’’ she told NBC Sports. “How does one person do that? There is only so much Facebook you can do.’’
Voters for the NASCAR Hall of Fame showed they had not forgotten Wednesday. While it took until the eighth class for one of the remaining inaugural nominees to be selected, Benny Parsons made it after receiving 85 percent of the vote. He’ll be joined by Mark Martin, Rick Hendrick, Richard Childress and Raymond Parks.
Terri Parsons had a feeling that this year would be different from all the times she had come before, hoping the man she loved and fans adored would be inducted.
She had a restless night of sleep. She was nervous on the drive to the Hall of Fame. Then shortly before the announcement, Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett told her he thought this would be Parsons’ year based on the talk about the 1973 champion among voters.
“When his name was announced, it hit me, this is it,’’ Terri Parsons said. “Nobody is going to forget him. People will know the history of Benny forever.’’
Still, she sat stoically. Jarrett, who spoke to his fellow voters earlier in the day about Parsons’ credentials, reached over and shook Terri Parsons’ wrist. Hall of Famer Bobby Allison turned around and shook her knee.
“I was numb,’’ Terri Parsons said. “I wanted to make sure I heard it right.’’
And then she saw the face of the man she married in 1992 on a video board as the first member of the new Hall of Fame class.
“He’s in,’’ she said to herself.
She later described it as “an awesome moment for me.’’
And for her husband, who became as well known to many fans for his role as broadcaster with NBC and other networks as for his success on the track.
“Somewhere tonight he’s saying fantastic, I’m sure, and we all know the smile he would have on his face,’’ Terri Parsons said.
It’s the smile that will be etched on his pylon when he’s inducted Jan. 20, 2017, into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.