Flock, Roberts remembered for on-track success
January 29, 2014, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
Both drivers inducted posthumously into the NASCAR Hall of Fame
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Tim Flock, one of three brothers that competed in NASCAR’s first "Strictly Stock" race in 1949, and who went on to become a two-time series champion, was paid the sanctioning body’s highest honor Wednesday night when he was inducted in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Glenn "Fireball" Roberts, a winner of 33 races and called "the first superstar our sport had" by Hall of Fame member Ned Jarrett, joined Flock in the 2014 class.
Also inducted were 1999 Cup champ Dale Jarrett, two-time NASCAR Busch (now Nationwide) Series champ Jack Ingram and legendary engine builder Maurice Petty.
Junior Johnson, an inaugural inductee and championship-winning car owner, raced against both Flock and Roberts.
"Fireball wasn’t afraid of anything," Johnson said. "He drove the car like he was always in control and knew what he was doing. But he was all-out; he would want to lead every lap.
"Tim was the guy who was more of a finesse driver. He waited until he had to do something to win and then here he would come.”
But above all, Johnson said, “Both of them were just great people.
"You’d never meet any two people any better than Tim and Fireball."
Flock, who won titles in 1952 and 1955, won 39 times in 187 starts during what was a relatively short, 13-year career. His 18-win season in ’55 while paired with team owner Carl Kiekhaefer was the benchmark for single-season victories until Richard Petty eclipsed the mark a dozen years later, winning 27 times.
Flock scored his first victory in his seventh start, approximately a year after making his debut and it also came at Charlotte Speedway, a three-quarter mile dirt track.
In 1998, Flock was named one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers.
Brothers Fonty and Bob, along with sister Ethel, also competed in NASCAR.
Roberts had the name, and the talent, to draw attention to the fledgling series in the sport’s early days. Although he didn’t run for the series championship, Roberts often dominated those in which he did compete.
In '56, he posted 22 top-10 finished in 33 starts; in '58 he won six times in only 10 starts. He won some of the sport’s premier events – the Daytona 500 and Southern 500 among them – as well as those held on less well-known venues.
"Tim was better, I think, than Fireball on dirt, but Fireball won a lot of dirt races, too," Johnson said. "Fireball, he was a good as anybody.
"I raced against both of them a lot; I won my share and they won their share. It was a lot of who had the best car that day, and who had the luck too."
Roberts died in 1964, a few weeks after being involved in a fiery crash at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
His grandson, Matt McDaniel, spoke on behalf of the Roberts family during the induction ceremony.
"He was considered a Renaissance man," McDaniel said, with his crew cut, cleanly-shaved face (and) well-dressed appearance.
"He attended college where he studied mechanical and aeronautical engineering, leading to a love of flying airplanes. …
"Our grandfather never won a championship, not because he didn’t have the talent or a car capable of winning. He never ran a full season in the NASCAR Grand National Division. He did, however, finish in the top five in points three times with a career-best runner-up performance during his rookie year of 1950."
Like Flock, Roberts was also named one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers in 1998.