NASCAR welcomed a diverse class of 2012 into its NASCAR Hall of Fame, Friday night, that will leave an everlasting impression for generations to come.
Among those inducted into the class of 2012, was Cale Yarborough.
Yarborough was known as a “racer’s racer,” something fans could identify with. Richard Petty, who was inducted in the inaugural class (2010), once said “Cale could run harder on the straights, than I could on the turns,” which speaks volumes of how determined Yarborough was when it came to winning.
Before he won three titles and 83 races, Yarborough and his wife started “flat broke” while he made $1.25 an hour sweeping the floor for the famous Holman Moody team.
“We’d go to the grocery store on a Saturday night to buy enough groceries to last out the week. We were there on a Saturday night and we had our grocery cart filled with everything we thought we could afford. We had to keep a count of everything that we bought so we could pay for it when we got to the checkout counter – We were coming down the last aisle heading toward the checkout counter and happened to come upon a pallet of cans of black eyed peas that were on sale for 10 cents a can. A big can, too. We put all the stuff that we bought back everywhere it was supposed to be, went back to that black eyed pea pallet and bought every can of black eyed peas that we could afford to buy. We had black eyed peas for breakfast, we had black eyed peas for dinner, we had black eyed peas for supper, a long time,” said Yarborough.
Yarborough joked he was glad he could afford the dress that his wife, Betty Jo, wore Friday, but “this coming week we’re going to be looking for another black-eyed pea sale.”
The South Carolina native, was inducted into the Hall of Fame by none other than legendary broadcaster, Kenny Squier.
Darrell Waltrip, who became a Fox analyst after three championships and 84 victories, gave a 23-minute emotional speech that appeared to be straight from the heart.
Waltrip’s younger daughter, Sarah, surprised him by flying 25 hours from the Philippines, as she was serving as a missionary in that country. Waltrip said Sarah had called earlier in the week apologizing for not being able to be there to witness her father’s induction ceremony. However, that would soon change.
“This night, these men and the people in this room are what inspired me to be a race car driver,” Waltrip said. “I climbed a lot of mountains. These men in these room inspired me to be successful and be good.”
“It’s not about me, it’s not about what I’ve done. It’s about family and all my friends and all the fans that have supported me all throughout the years.”
Dale Inman, who recorded a record 193-victories and eight championships as a crew chief, was also inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, as a member of the class of 2012.
Inman joked recalling how crew chiefs once communicated with their drivers via hand signals, in the era before radios.
“Of course, the drivers today with radios use some gestures, but they’re pretty expensive,” said Inman.
Inman was inducted into the Hall of Fame by Richard Petty, who through that partnership helped propel Petty’s cousin to such a prestigious enshrinement.
“The big deal that Dale had that really made the whole thing work was people,” Petty said. “He knew how to work with people. Dale approached things with attitude, confidence and focus. That’s what he did with his people, and that’s the reason he was able to be a winner like what he is.”
Richie Evans, the all-time winningest Modified Series driver with an estimated 1,300 victories and a record nine championships, was inducted by his former crew chief, Billy Nacewicz.
Evans’ widow, Lynn Evans, accepted the induction of her late husband. She was truly humble by accepting the award, as she once told her children, “your dad will get in some day, but I won’t be here to see it.”
Lynn Evans also made it apparent to thank the voters who voted in her late husband, as well as the media for allowing coverage on the life of Richie Evans.
The fifth and final inductee to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2012, was none other than Glen Wood.
Wood was known as the ‘patriarch’ of Wood Brothers Racing, as he not only raced as a driver, but also played the role of car owner while working with many successful people in the industry.
Wood started Wood Brothers Racing nearly 60-years ago, in Stuart, Virginia.
“What a night this is, we’ve got what must be half of Patrick County here,” Leonard said. “Glen has been supporting this sport for a long, long time. They were having races on the beach back in 1947 before NASCAR was formed, and he’s been to Daytona every year since.”
“This is not just about me being inducted in the Hall of Fame,” (Glen) Wood said. “It’s also about the Wood Brothers. And it’s about NASCAR. And I’m proud to have been a NASCAR driver and car owner, and this is about two families, the Wood family and the Ford family working together, which has resulted in me being here tonight.”