With Trading Paint on the shelf for a few weeks, I'm stepping in as a pinch driver with my own version of a mailbag.
This week's topic: the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Hundreds of you expressed your opinions on who should be among the first inductees. My first class included only four men: Bill France Sr., Bill France Jr., Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. Most of you agreed, though with some caveats.
The names you noted most were Herb Thomas, David Pearson, Joe Weatherly, Wendell Scott, Curtis Turner, Fireball Roberts, Richie Evans, Rusty Wallace, Bill Elliott, Benny Parsons and, surprise, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Without further adieu, let's exchange some enamel. Per usual, my answers are in italics.
BEST OF THE BEST ("VVVIPs only" Nov. 18, 2007)
Your first selections are very good, but lack a complete historical importance.
M. J. Lynch
Bill France Sr. and Jr., Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt – yeah, I see your point.
Just how watered down is this Hall of Fame going to be? In my opinion, there should be some benchmarks, such as: one championship – borderline and needs another significant achievement; two championships – first or second ballot (depending on win total); three championships – first ballot lock. The Hall of Fame will not be anything more than a NASCAR museum if it is considered by fans, media, etc. to be watered down, and I sure hope that it's not.
Love this guy, and not just because he's from the Land of Lincoln, my home state. The reason I only included four in my first class was for this exact reason. Inducting too many too soon will only quicken the watering-down process, and the next thing you know you're inducting Tony Perez. Oh, wait …
If you want to include Bill France Sr, you better look toward Smokey Yunick. There were many times when Big Bill looked to Smokey for advice in the early days. Also, Smokey was the man who gave Fireball Roberts his horsepower, as well as many inventions that not only today's race car drivers enjoy, but the everyday motorist as well. If anyone is deserving of such an honor, it's old Smokey.
Little Canada, Minn.
How could Dale Earnhart Sr. possibly be in the first group and not David Pearson? David Pearson has the most superspeedway victories. Dale Earnhart Sr. is overrated.
Virginia Beach, Va.
John actually included his last name, but for safety reasons I left it off.
Your list is dead on. I agree with the VVIP. My only question is Kyle Busch. Big time speculation. He is loaded with talent and cockiness, but he may totally flop in the Toyota with Gibbs racing.
Bon Wier, Texas
Maybe, but if he succeeds, one day I can brag to my grandkids that their grand daddy predicted it, and they'll think I'm really, really cool.
Will the cheaters get an asterisk or will their deception be ignored?
Can you say RUSTY WALLACE?
Yes, Donna, I can. RUSTY WALLACE – third-class inductee.
If Tim Richmond and Davey Allison had lived and raced longer we wouldn't be having this discussion about Dale Sr. Face it he wouldn't have seen seven championships and near as many wins. Tim Richmond was without a doubt the best racer I've witnessed and I've been a NASCAR fan since my first race in 1974
Anniston , Ala.
I agree with David. Had Richmond and Allison lived longer, the record books would certainly read differently.
There is no way in the world Kurt Busch deserves to be in the first NASCAR HOF. Even the championship he won was a fluke. You need to go back and review that year in NASCAR. Besides, unless they make the building for the HOF oversize, there is no way his ears will fit in the door.
I included this letter for one reason – to show how sometimes readers don’t actually read. For the record, Gene, I wrote KYLE Busch would make the Hall, not Kurt. As for Kurt's ears, why don't you send us your picture and we'll let readers have at you.
Where would the most popular driver (Junior) fit on today's list of drivers?
He'll be buying a ticket to get in, just like the rest of us.