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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Tim Flock had his good luck charm in the early days of stock-car racing. Six decades later at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Frances Flock had hers, too, paying homage to her late husband's former racing primate sidekick.
Wearing a print dress adorned with tastefully illustrated monkeys, the 85-year-old widow of a true NASCAR pioneer heard her husband's name called first on voting day as the top vote-getter in the 2014 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. With her son, Carl, beside her, the family didn't have to wait long, yelping with a fist pump after the first envelope was opened Wednesday evening.
"I was very surprised and very shocked," Frances Flock said, moments after the presentation. "I'm still just shaking all over."
Tim Flock's credentials established him as one of stock car racing's earliest superstars, becoming just the second two-time champion in NASCAR's premier series. His 39 wins still rank 18th on the all-time victory list, and his career winning percentage of 20.9% will likely never be seen again (for comparison's sake, five-time champ Jimmie Johnson's career Sprint Cup winning percentage sits at 15.1%).
For all the otherworldly stats, even more impressive is Frances Flock's memory in reciting her husband's numbers. She shrewdly highlighted his 18-win championship season of 1955, with 18 poles and 32 top-five finishes in just 39 races, driving a peerless Chrysler 300.
"He raced in every division -- modified, Grand National, Strictly Stock," she says. "He still holds records that won't be broken, so he was really a pioneer to racing."
The statistics weren't lost on Richard Petty, an inaugural-class Hall of Famer and the owner of the roundest number in all of NASCAR -- 200 career wins. Flock's determination and savvy behind the wheel were enough to earn The King's vote when final ballots were cast.
"I have never in my life seen a smoother driver than what Tim was," said Petty, who avidly followed Flock's career as a teenager starting his racing career through the 1950s. "When I started along, I said look, he's one of the guys that I want to be as good as, be as smooth as what he is. A lot of times he was in a race and you'd never know he was in it, until they threw the checkered flag and he'd won it."
Said Carl Flock: "Coming from the King, saying how smooth Daddy was? That's a big honor."
Flock may have been as well known for his on-track accomplishments as his gimmick, a monkey named Jocko Flocko that joined him in the car for a handful of races in the early 1950s. Frances Flock lovingly told the story of her husband starting from the pole position and watching the second-place starter promptly wreck in the first turn after seeing a monkey riding shotgun on the passenger side.
Just for good luck, Frances Flock carried Jocko's memory with her choice of attire Wednesday night.
Flock's enshrinement, scheduled Jan. 29, 2014, will help his name resonate with a demographic that was never able to watch him race. Then again, Frances Flock has been doing her part in spreading the word for some time now, selling memorabilia that includes a biography, postcards, die-cast models and even some signed items. She continues to operate a small museum near her home of Indian Land, S.C., and will set up shop Thursday at a Concord, N.C., Walmart store near Charlotte Motor Speedway ahead of Sunday's Coca-Cola 600.
"I still travel and go to the old car shows and memorabilia shows around when people invite me," Frances Flock said. "Tim's stuff is still selling real well. I guess it'll really go well now."
After Wednesday's announcement, she'll have to save some memorabilia for his exhibit next year in the building's Hall of Honor.
"He kind of broke the ground for guys nowadays," Frances Flock said. "They didn't have firesuits, didn't have anything but a strap across his waist -- no harnesses or anything that they have now. For him to have come through all the years that he races and wasn't ever injured, it was a miracle. I think that all the drivers in the '40s, '50s and '60s set the groundwork for the drivers today. It's just a wonderful thrill for him to finally be in the Hall of Fame."
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WHAT: Hall of Fame Voting Day
WHERE: Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center
WHO VOTES: 21 members of Nominating Committee and 33 members of Voting Panel. In addition, one vote is generated by fan input.
WHO WAS CHOSEN: Tim Flock, Jack Ingram, Dale Jarrett, Maurice Petty and Fireball Roberts
WHEN THE 2014 INDUCTEES WILL BE INDUCTED: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 (Live television coverage provided by FOX Sports 1)
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- Motor Racing
- NASCAR Hall of Fame
- Tim Flock