Engine-builder was behind success of Petty drivers
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Maurice Petty watched in 2010 as his brother, Richard, was among the first five members enshrined in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
A year later, he spoke on behalf of the family’s father, Lee, when the Petty patriarch was welcomed into the hall.
In 2012, it was cousin Dale Inman, the eight-time championship-winning crew chief, whose name was called.
And now, Maurice Petty will join his legendary family members, as the man known as “Chief” will be one of five new inductees entering the hall in 2014.
“Never did. Didn’t then and don’t right now,” NASCAR’s most successful engine builder said when asked if he’d felt passed over in previous years.
“It really makes me happy, because that means I was part of all of them getting in. They’ve got all of us in now.”
WHAT: Hall of Fame Voting Day
WHERE: Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center
WHO VOTES: 21 members of Nominating Committee and 33 members of Voting Panel. In addition, one vote is generated by fan input.
WHO WAS CHOSEN: Tim Flock, Jack Ingram, Dale Jarrett, Maurice Petty and Fireball Roberts
WHEN THE 2014 INDUCTEES WILL BE INDUCTED: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 (Live television coverage provided by FOX Sports 1)
Petty said that, when his name was called out during the 6 p.m. ceremony in the Great Hall of the Hall of Fame, “the hair on the back of my neck just stood up. It really did."
“It’s great. Golly, it’s great. That’s all I can say.”
Petty built the engines that carried his brother to 198 of his NASCAR record 200 career wins. He also built engines that put drivers such as Buddy Baker, Pete Hamilton and Jim Paschal in victory lane.
“I was one of the first (engine builders), so it makes you like a pioneer or something,” Petty said. “We had three or four guys helping out, but not the whole time. We did it the hard way.
“I came along and I have welded, swept the floors and I drove. I did it all up until a point -- in 1964, that’s when I turned it all into building the engines.”
Petty earned seven top-five finishes in 26 starts as a driver.
Joining him in the class of 2014 are premier series champions Tim Flock and Dale Jarrett, two-time Busch (now Nationwide) Series champion Jack Ingram and Fireball Roberts, considered by many to be stock car racing’s first true superstar.
Petty, who was named on 67 percent of the ballots cast by the voting panel, said he wasn’t overly optimistic that his name would be called.
“It’s a 50-50 chance any way you look at it,” he said. “Like we always said when we came home from a race and we’d either blown up or crashed: there’s always another race next week.”
Richard Petty, who is two years older than Maurice, said that without his younger brother’s talents, “then there wouldn’t have been a Richard Petty or a Lee Petty or a Dale Inman accomplishing the things that (we) did accomplish.
“He is the engine man that everybody has to compete against.”
Leonard Wood, whose Wood Brothers Racing team often found itself going head to head with Petty Enterprises for supremacy in the sport, said Maurice “was doing just about everything right."
“A very tough competitor who took his job very seriously,” Wood, inducted into the Hall earlier this year, said.
“You’ve got all those people you know you have to beat each and every week, but you knew when you went out that if you could beat him, you could win the race.
“All those years he built all those engines for the Pettys, his engines always ran up front; just very hard to beat.”
Flock earned 76 percent of the vote, followed by Petty, Jarrett (56 percent), Ingram (53 percent) and Roberts (51 percent).
Among those outside the top five also receiving votes were six-time Modified champion Jerry Cook; two-time premier series champ Joe Weatherly and Wendell Scott.
Induction for the 2014 class is scheduled for Jan. 29, 2014.
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