We are at the 11th inception of the NASCAR Hall of Fame and changes need to be made. Like most things, we’re two years past when it would have made sense to make the changes, I would think after 10 classes, but if anything changes it would be for the 12th class.
This five people elected in non-sense needs to stop. Now, I hate to use the Baseball Hall of Fame as an example (more on that later), but there needs to be a rule about the percentage of votes someone gets that allows them in. Baseball uses 75%, which actually feels about right, but given the voting this year would have been a tough sell.
The selected individuals received the following percentage of votes: Tony Stewart (88%), Joe Gibbs (72%), Waddell Wilson (72%), Buddy Baker (70%) and Bobby Labonte (67%). If we used 75% as the bar, only Stewart is in and if we back off to 70% only Labonte misses the cut.
I’m guessing the 12% that did not vote for Stewart have the same sense of entitlement the Baseball Hall of Fame selectors have that “no one is a unanimous selection” bullshit. Stewart ranks 29th in all-time starts, 53rd in poles, 14th in wins, 18th in top-5s, 19th in top-10s, and 14th in laps led. Add in three championships and you’ve got one heck of a career. Then you get into the impact he had on the sports and you could argue him becoming a team owner gives him a lot more backing for a unanimous select since his teams have won 51 times and two championships…so far!
I have no issues with the others, like many fans I wish the selection committee and voters would learn some history and work on getting the pioneers in along with drivers who excelled outside of the Cup Series but in NASCAR. That will always be a tough one because they will not be the flashy picks to draw people in.
I’m on the fence only with Labonte, but he was the first to win a Grand National and then Cup championship. Looking at his career, he had about an eight year span of being a contender, then spent the final eight or so years of his career puttering along. I think any objections to Baker is unwarranted since his driving career might not be as impressive as others (I’m impressed by it), but his contributions on television and radio should carry weight behind it.
Basically what I want you to take away from this rant is if we continue to induct five individuals every year, then basically you just need to a start and a park in a Cup race and you’ll be in. Like it or not, having someone like Jimmie Johnson win seven championships actually INCREASES the clout that comes with winning a title. If every driver who strapped in walked away with a title, what’s the sense in accomplishment of that? The idea that you can be one of only a handful of people, that’s better than having Oprah go “you get a title, and you get a title…” So in a few years it’ll be “you get into the Hall of Fame, and you get in, and you get in.” Unless of course your name is Smokey Yunick, then you’ll never get in because you’ve been blacklisted for some reason.