Family has never meant more in racing than it did Wednesday night at the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in uptown Charlotte.
“We all like to see our children do well,” said Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett, who watched with emotion as his son Dale was inducted with four others in the Hall’s fifth class. “But to see them be honored for it like this, that’s the ultimate.”
Engine builder Maurice Petty, short-track ace Jack Ingram and the late Tim Flock and Fireball Roberts joined Dale Jarrett in what now is a 25-member Hall.
Family was the theme of the night.
Maurice Petty was inducted by his brother Richard Petty, NASCAR’s greatest winner. Maurice was one of the architects of Richard’sseven Cup championships. But perhaps the biggest victory he was part of came when Pete Hamilton won the 1970 Daytona 500 with Petty as crew chief.
Maurice is the fourth member of his family – along with Richard, father Lee and cousin Dale Inman – in the Hall.
“Who’d ever have thought that a little ol’ family from out in the woods (Randleman) would end up with four in the Hall of Fame,” said Maurice. “We all lived within a quarter of a mile of each other.”
Flock, who died in 1998, perhaps is best known for the Rhesus monkey – Jocko – who rode with him for eight races during 1953. Flock, who won 39 races, worked at Charlotte Motor Speedway for more than 30 years after he retired. His widow Frances accepted his nomination.
“I bet my darling and all the passed drivers are having one huge race in heaven tonight,” Frances Flock said.
Roberts, who died in 1964 from injuries suffered in an accident during that year’s World 600 at CMS, never won a NASCAR title. But he won 33 races in 206 starts.
Roberts also was somewhat of a “renaissance” man. He attended the University of Florida for two years, enjoyed classical music, duck hunting, stamp collecting and played the sport of jai alai in his hometown of Daytona Beach, Fla.
Ingram had another of NASCAR’s best nicknames – Iron Man. A native of Asheville, Ingram won 31 races on what has become the Nationwide Series, a mark that stood until Mark Martin broke it in 1997. Ingram sometimes raced as many as four or five times a week and won 317 NASCAR-sponsored races.
Dale Jarrett was the final inductee. A native of Catawba County, Jarrett won the Daytona 500 three times and the Brickyard 400 twice, as well as the 1999Cup championship. He won 32 races over his 24-year career. Dale and Ned Jarrett and Lee and Richard Petty are the only father-son combinations to win Cup championships.
“None of us start out with this in mind,” said Dale Jarrett, who was inducted by close friend and country music star Blake Shelton. “As a child – and I’m a 57-year-old one – there’s not a lot that parents will take back as payment in life. But in a small way, I feel this is something I can give back to mine. This is my present back to them.”
Chris Economaki won the Hall’s Squier-Hall Award for media contributions to NASCAR. Economaki, who died during 2012, was the long-time editor of National Speed Sport News and a television commentator for decades.
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