Hall ballot has 2 holes

Committee erred by omitting Wallace, Scott from 3rd list

April 27, 2011|By George Diaz, Tribune Newspapers

Twenty-one committee members have a voice regarding who gets into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. It should be considered a privilege, not some willy-nilly, fill-in-the-blanks homework assignment.

Because taking the lazy, noncommittal approach is the only way to explain why Rusty Wallace and Wendell Scott aren't among the 25 nominees for the third Hall of Fame class.

Wallace has 55 Cup victories and 349 top-10 finishes. He won a championship in 1989 and was named one of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers in 1998. His credentials are better than two other nominees, Bobby Isaac (37 wins, one championship) and Fred Lorenzen (26 wins, no titles).

Scott, meanwhile, was NASCAR's first African-American driver in 1961. He is the sport's Jackie Robinson. Scott also had 147 top-10 finishes and four top-10 season finishes at the Cup level.

Darlington Raceway once banned Scott from racing there, and NASCAR once tried to ignore the fact Scott won a race. These were among many insults Scott had to endure during his career. For a sport that has made significant strides in fighting back from earlier transgressions of racial bias, this is a huge step back.

So much for credibility.

"Bitter puts it mildly," Scott's son, Wendell Scott Jr., said in an interview with tricities.com. "It's a virtual certainty that Wendell Scott won't go into the Hall of Fame in his wife's or most of his children's lifetime."

As for Wallace, it's not as if he has burned any bridges and turned his back on the sport. He is a car owner and works as an analyst for ESPN.

"There are so many people who deserve to get into that doggone Hall of Fame," Wallace said Tuesday. "I am happy for everybody. … If I have to wait three or five more years, I am OK with that. I don't deserve to go in this early."

It might come across as self-serving, but Wallace should use his platform to point out the silliness in the Hall of Fame nomination process. There is no designated waiting period after a driver retires until he becomes eligible, so there isn't any point in keeping a guy out just to kill time.

"I won a couple driver of the year titles, and Nigel Mansell beat me (for driver of the year honors) in 1993 when I won 10 races," Wallace said, going over a quick resume of his accomplishments. "I won 55 races overall. That's pretty good stuff to hang my hat on."

I suppose some of the voting members were too busy to Google his stats.

Two thumbs down — one for Rusty, the other for Wendell.

gdiaz@tribune.com

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