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NASCAR Hall of Fame ceremony is a family affair

May 24, 2011, Mark Aumann, NASCAR.com



NASCAR Hall of Fame ceremony is a family affair

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Racing may be a fraternity, but for the five newest inductees to NASCAR's Hall of Fame, Monday night was a celebration of family ties.

Bud Moore, Lee Petty, Ned Jarrett, Bobby Allison and David Pearson were added as the second class in a ceremony at the Charlotte Convention Center's Crown Ballroom, joining last year's inaugural class of Bill France Jr. and Sr., Richard Petty, Junior Johnson and Dale Earnhardt.

Brian France, the third-generation chief executive officer and chairman of NASCAR, set the tone for the evening with his opening remarks.

"On behalf of the France family, everyone in NASCAR -- and most importantly, the millions of fans who love this sport -- thank you, the second class, for the memories and moments you gave this great sport," France said.

Longtime Motor Racing Network anchor Barney Hall introduced Moore, a legendary NASCAR mechanic and car owner.

"Most of the guys who ever worked for Bud said one thing: If you were successful, you did it Bud's way," Hall said. "It was just that simple. It didn't make any difference if you wanted to change a spring in the car and Bud didn't want it changed. You didn't change it. And more times than not, Bud was right."

As a soldier in the Army, Moore was part of the invasion force at Normandy on D-Day in 1944 and eventually was awarded five Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars. After returning to life as a civilian, which eventually led him to NASCAR, he was the crew chief for Buck Baker's 1957 championship run and Joe Weatherly's back-to-back titles in 1962 and 1963.

"My daughter-in-law asked me how I wanted to be remembered," Moore said. "The answer is simple. One who made many contributions in building the sport, one whose handshake was as good as any contract [and] who always gave straight answers. And most of all, to be remembered as a man who loved his family, his country and the sport of racing."

Petty's four grandsons -- Ritchie, Kyle, Tim and Mark -- gave the audience a brief insight into their relationship with the two-time NASCAR champion, who ate lunch with them every day at 11:30 a.m., sharing stories and advice up to his death in 2000.

"He gave us his words to live by: Outwork your competitors; beat your competition, not yourself; don't be envious," Ritchie Petty said. "These were Lee's core values. Probably the greatest lesson that was instilled in all of us, he borrowed from the Bible, Matthew 12:25: 'A house divided against itself shall not stand.' Even in Lee's last days, keeping his family together was the key to his legacy. He was the glue that kept us all together."

"For my grandfather, this wasn't just a sport, but a way of life," Kyle Petty said.

Richard Petty, in accepting the honor along with brother Maurice, said he truly believed his father deserved to be a member of the inaugural class.

"He was the leader, he should have been up before I was," Richard Petty said. "The way it wound up, I'm pushing him now because he pushed me all of his life. He was tough. He was pretty good with the grandsons and stuff like that, and he was pretty hard on me and [Maurice] but he was hardest on the outside world. He lived in his world and he didn't want nobody telling him how to live his way. His big deal was to take care of his own."

"If you got in the way, it didn't make a whole lot of difference to him. He got you out of the way."

Ned Jarrett won 50 races but may be remembered more for his work off the track, according to sons Dale and Glenn and daughter Patti Makar.

"He spent many years promoting and talking to anyone and everyone about NASCAR," Dale Jarrett said. "He's been a track owner and promoter, a radio commentator, sponsor representative, TV analyst, a huge fan and of course, a driver."

And despite that, Glenn Jarrett remembered his father being home when it mattered.

"All the time that Dad was busy racing, sometimes more than 100 times a year, working long hours on radio and TV, making speeches and giving selflessly to charities and civic groups, he never, ever forgot his family," Glenn Jarrett said. "He was always there to watch Dale and I play sports, and Patti doing all the things girls do ... and I still haven't figured what all those things were."

Ned Jarrett admitted that he prayed that he would live long enough to be elected.

"This is far more than I ever dreamed of," Ned Jarrett said. "To go in with greats like David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Bud Moore and Lee Petty. That means a lot to me.

"I had the good fortune of racing against all of them, and also with Richard Petty and Junior Johnson during my racing career. I appreciate you guys allowing me to win a few races along the way and a couple of championships. Thank you for that."

Donnie Allison introduced his brother, the leader of the legendary Alabama Gang -- and explained in humorous fashion the reason why they initially decided to move away from South Florida.

"In 1959, he and I went to Alabama for the first time," Donnie Allison said. "He thought he died and went to heaven because he could race three or four nights a week and make some money. First weekend we went, he ran third at Montgomery Motor Speedway. He came to me and said, 'Donnie, we don't have to eat any more peaches. We can go get some fried chicken. I just made $275.' "

The night's most poignant moment came shortly after a video was shown of Davey Allison finishing second to his father in the 1988 Daytona 500. Bobby Allison took a moment to remember both Davey and Clifford, who died within 11 months of each other.

"All four of our kids were really, really special kids," Bobby Allison said. "We lost Clifford. We lost Davey. And that was just so hard on me and Judy. The world, I hope, is never that cruel to any other family again.

"But it happened. We survived it. People helped us and supported us and I really appreciate that. All I can say is this is a special honor for me."

Former Darlington Raceway public relations director Russell Branham, who has known Pearson since he was 7, was given the honor of introducing the night's final inductee.

"In what was supposed to be a slow, ceremonial pre-race lap in street cars, David and Cale Yarborough decided to go wide open, rocketing past the color guard, the anthem singer and the pastor," Branham said. "Asked why, David replied, 'I wasn't gonna let Cale outrun me. Plus, the preacher wouldn't have let anything bad happen.' "

After Leonard Wood gave Pearson his Hall of Fame ring, the Silver Fox went on a rambling, laugh-inducing storytelling spree, eventually getting around to his time as the driver of the No. 21 Wood Brothers Mercury.

"I can't say enough good about them boys," Pearson said. "Leonard Wood, I have to say, that's the smartest man in the world, right there. If there was anything that car needed and they couldn't find it or couldn't buy it, he made it.

"... They were the hardest working and best people that I could think of to drive for. If I was going to run a race tomorrow, I'd want Leonard Wood on it."

Pearson never graduated from high school, but his lack of schooling didn't stop him from eventually reaching the pinnacle of his profession on Monday night.

"I quit in the ninth grade," Pearson said. "I did pass to the 10th but I didn't ever go to the 10th. I didn't need no education to drive race cars, so that's what I done."