I'm really not sure who the voters are. If I really cared to know, I'm sure the info is out there to be found with a token Google search. But tonight, I really don't care about how the voters will cast their ballots. I'm here to state a case for my own choices.
The Patriarch - Lee Petty
- 54 Grand National wins - a NASCAR record Lee established with his final win in 1960 and stood until broken by his son, Richard, in 1967.
- 3 Grand National championships - the last in 1959. This record stood for 10 years until David Pearson matched it. His son later shattered it by winning 7 championships.
- Winner of the inaugural Daytona 500 in a photo finish.
- The patriarch of the Petty racing family. For a painfully brief period of time, four generations of racing Pettys were alive - Lee, Richard, Kyle, and Adam.
- 1960 Rookie of the Year
- 105 Grand National/Winston Cup wins
- 3 Grand National championships - 2nd to reach that accompishment
- 1973 - Won 11 of 18 races entered
- 1976 - Won 10 of 22 races entered
- Winner of 1976 Daytona 500
- 11 consecutive pole positions at Charlotte Motor Speedway from 1973 through 1978
- 3 World 600 wins
- 3 Southern 500 wins
- 85 Grand National/Winston Cup wins
- 1983 Winston Cup champion
- 3 Daytona 500 wins with 3 different car owners (Bud Moore, DiGard, and Billy Stavola)
- Countless short-track late model wins from coast to coast and north to south
- 2 time participant in Indianapolis 500
- 83 Grand National/Winston Cup wins
- 3 consecutive Winston Cup championships - the first to accomplish it
- 4 Daytona 500 wins - three of them with different car owners: Wood Brothers, Junior Johnson, and Harry Ranier
- 5 Southern 500 wins
- Pioneer stock car racing car owner
- Car owner for NASCAR's first two seasons of Strictly Stock/Grand National series with World War II Red Byron as driver and Red Vogt as mechanic (all 3 shown in above photo)
- Fielded cars for legendary modified and early NASCAR drivers Roy Hall, Lloyd Seay
- Attended the late 1940s meeting called by Bill France in Daytona Beach, FL where the founding of NASCAR resulted.
- Helped the fledgling sanctioning body by providing Bill France Sr. some much needed financial support.
For the record, here's my call for the third class for 2012:
- Dale Inman - long-time crew chief for Richard Petty - only crew chief with 8 championships (7 with Petty and 1 with Terry Labonte)
- Darrell Waltrip - 80 wins, 3 time Cup champ, 1 Daytona 500, multiple wins in World 600 and Southern 500
- Ned Jarrett - 2 time champion, multiple wins, and successful transition from competitor to media member on radio and TV
- Herb Thomas - 2 time champion in 1950s, 48 Grand National wins - most driving the Famous Hudson Hornet (popularized in the Disney/Pixar movie, Cars)
- Bruton Smith - This is my soft pick. I'm not convinced of it just yet. His mark on track ownership is undeniable. How he got his tracks, how his races were promoted, etc. is somewhat questionable. I'll likely wrestle with this one a bit more the next 12 months.