Bristol ties are strong in 2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame class
The NASCAR Hall of Fame (NHOF) now has 20 members and the connections between the legends of the sport and the celebrated Bristol Motor Speedway continue to mount.
Of the 15 previous inductees and the five new members named May 23, 15 have found success at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile, confirming the best of the sport rise to the occasion when tested by Bristol.
Three of the five members of the new class: Cotton Owens, Rusty Wallace and Leonard Wood, were involved in 11 wins at BMS. That brings the count to 84 trips to Victory Lane at Bristol made by the cream of the crop.
Wallace finished his career in a second-place tie with Cale Yarborough and Dale Earnhardt (previous inductees to the NHOF) on the BMS all-time win list with nine. They trailed only Darrell Waltrip (also in the NHOF), who finished with 12.
Of the nine, two were of the biggest of Wallace’s career, earning his first career Cup win at BMS April 6, 1986 and his 50th March 26, 2000.
One of the pioneers in implementing innovative safety measures on his race cars, Owens’ ticket to the BMS Winner’s Circle was punched in the spring of 1967 when David Pearson (also in the NHOF) steered his Owens-owned machine to the checkered flag. But Owens’ cars came close more than once.
In 1962, Junior Johnson, also a NASCAR Hall of Famer, led 166 laps in a car owned by Owens before a crash ended his day. Four years later, in the spring of 1966, Pearson put Owens’ car on the pole and led 330 of the first 382 laps before a broken timing chain ended his day.
Wood, a 50-plus-year member of the team and famed pit crew owned by his brother Glen (named to the Hall last year), helped Elliott Sadler make it to Victory Lane at Bristol in the 2001 Food City 500.
The two other members of the most recent class are former Cup champions Buck Baker and Herb Thomas.
Baker was near the end of his career when Bristol Motor Speedway opened in 1961 and ran just 12 races at the short track. Competing in seven different car makes for three different owners, including himself, Baker posted three-top 10 finishes at Bristol. His best was a fourth-place run for Petty Enterprises in 1964.
Thomas, the champion in 1951 and ’53, made only one driving appearance after an accident in 1957 and never raced at Bristol.
Congratulations to all.