COMMENTARY | Adding people to a Hall of Fame for anything has got to be an arduous task for those involved, so I admire those who are in charge of choosing the inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame; the 2014 class will be inducted on Wednesday, January 29. However, this doesn't mean I don't think they got a few of the inductees wrong - in fact, these NASCAR personalities deserved to be in the Hall of Fame already, and for some unknown reason keep missing the vote.
Benny Parsons - "BP," who passed away in January 2007 due to complications from lung cancer, was the 1973 Cup Series champ, a two-time ARCA Racing Series champ (1968 and 1969) and the winner of 21 Cup Series races, including the 1975 Daytona 500. At the end of his 21-year driving career in 1988, he went on to become a popular racing broadcaster on numerous networks, including ESPN, TNT and NBC, and won an ESPN Emmy for his work in 1996. He's been inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame (1994) and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America (2005), and was named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.
Wendell Scott - Scott, who passed away in December 1990 from spinal cancer, was the first African-American driver to win not only in what would become the Sprint Cup Series, but in NASCAR in general. The 1999 International Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee won just that one race - at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Florida - but broke down the barrier for minorities in the sport, eventually paving the way for today's minority drivers like Kyle Larson and Darrell Wallace Jr., who last season became the second African-American driver to win in a top-tier NASCAR division.
Jerry Cook - His name won't ring a bell if you're strictly a "top-tier" NASCAR fan, but those familiar with the Modified division know that Cook's image belongs in the Hall of Fame right beside his fiercest rival, Richie Evans, who was inducted in 2012. Cook was a six-time NASCAR Modified champ (1971-72 and 1974-77) who earned more than 340 wins; in addition to being named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998, he ranked third on NASCAR's All-Time Modified Drivers' top 10 list behind Evans and Mike Stefanik. Cook retired in 1982 and went on to serve as the Whelen Modified Series director when the series began in 1985.
Ralph Seagraves and T. Wayne Robertson - Two more people that aren't household names, but their efforts made NASCAR the popular sport it's become. Seagraves and his successor Robertson worked for R.J. Reynolds, with Seagraves being instrumental in creating the Winston Cup Series, bringing the title sponsor into NASCAR's fold; he also worked similarly with the NHRA. Robertson, who was a senior VP with the company and president of sports marketing, helped with the development of what was originally known as The Winston, the all-star race, and contributed to the growth of the NHRA as well.
Alan Kulwicki - Under the original eligibility requirements for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, driver candidates with careers shorter than 10 years would be considered for induction under special circumstances - Kulwicki should have been one of those special circumstances. Kulwicki went from being named Rookie of the Year in 1986 to being Cup Series champ in 1992 - and in 1993, it was all over, during what was one of the most tragic seasons in NASCAR since 1964 (the passing of both Joe Weatherly and "Fireball" Roberts). Kulwicki was killed in a plane crash in April 1993, just months before Davey Allison lost his life due to complications from a helicopter crash at Talladega Superspeedway in July. Kulwicki was never able to defend his title, and collected only five wins in 207 races, but in spite of that, he was named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers and inducted into numerous other motorsports halls of fame - the NASCAR Hall of Fame should be next.
Paula is a freelance writer and photographer specializing in motorsports. She also covers NASCAR at Skirts & Scuffs and Examiner.com.
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