Charlotte, NC – Five new members will be enshrined into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Friday. Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Richie Evans, Dale Inman and Glen Wood make up the 2012 class. They were voted into the NASCAR HofF last June.
The inaugural class -- Bill France Sr., Richard Petty, Bill France Jr., Dale Earnhardt and Junior Johnson -- were inducted when the NASCAR HofF opened in May 2010. Bobby Allison, Ned Jarrett, Bud Moore, David Pearson and Lee Petty made up the Hall's second class last year.
Friday's induction ceremony will take place at the Charlotte Convention Center [7:30 p.m. (et)].
Yarborough became the first driver to win three consecutive championships in NASCAR's premier series (now known as the Sprint Cup Series). His string of titles from 1976-78 was unmatched until 2008 when Jimmie Johnson claimed his third series championship in a row. Johnson won his fourth and fifth straight titles in 2009-10.
In a career that began in 1957 and concluded after the 1988 season, Yarborough notched 83 Cup wins, which currently ranks him sixth on the all-time race winners list. Four of his victories came in the Daytona 500.
Yarborough finished runner-up in the series championship in 1973 and '74 and again in 1980. After the '80 season, Yarborough, whose father was killed in a plane crash when he was 11, felt he needed to spend more time with his children and never again pursued a full-time driving schedule.
"I gave up a lot, but I gained a lot more," he noted in his 1986 autobiography "Cale."
Yarborough drove for Junior Johnson from 1974-80, but after Yarborough left Johnson's team, Waltrip took over his seat. Waltrip, nicknamed "Jaws" for his outspoken demeanor during his career, went on to win three Cup championships with Johnson.
"Cale gave me the best advice that anybody could give me, and that was that he was going to leave Junior's [team], and nobody even knew of it," Waltrip recalled. "He said, 'I'm telling you something that nobody knows, and Junior likes you, and he wants you to drive his car. You need to go talk to him.' That was the best advice that anybody ever gave me, because it led to a lot of wins and three championships."
Waltrip won his titles in 1981, '82 and '85. From 1977-87, he finished no worse than fifth in the point standings. Waltrip claimed his first Daytona 500 victory in 1989, driving for Rick Hendrick.
Since retiring at the end of the 2000 season, Waltrip has served as an analyst for FOX Sports and Speed television's coverage of NASCAR.
Evans is the first of the 15 inductees without a connection to NASCAR's top racing circuit. Nicknamed the "Rapid Roman" by virtue of racing out of Rome, NY, Evans niche in stock car racing came in the modifieds. He won nine NASCAR national modified championships over a 13-year span, including eight straight titles from 1978-85. He worked on his own cars -- as many as 100 hours per week -- and almost raced every night of the week.
"Working with the car and working on it in the garage every week is an advantage," Evans once said. "While I'm working on the car, I'm thinking about every lap I rode in that thing. It's not like the mechanic who stood and watched it during the feature and then has to make some decisions."
Evans was killed in an accident while practicing for a modified race at Martinsville Speedway in October 1985. Last week, the New York State Senate adopted a resolution honoring Evans' NASCAR HofF induction.
Inman will become the first crew chief inducted into the Hall. He served as a crew chief at Petty Enterprises for nearly three decades, setting records for most championships (eight) and wins (193). Inman guided his cousin, Richard Petty, to seven titles. He won a championship with Terry Labonte when Labonte drove for car owner Billy Hagan in 1984.
Unlike his cousin, Inman never had a desire to drive race cars.
"I just didn't see me tearing up somebody else's equipment," he said. "I was always pretty well content to work on the race cars and make them better."
Wood and his brothers, Leonard, Delano, Clay and Ray Lee, went from weekend racers to one of the most accomplished teams in NASCAR, with some of the sport's greatest names driving for them. Pearson and Yarborough, as well as Buddy Baker, Neil Bonnett, A.J. Foyt, Tiny Lund and Marvin Panch drove for the Wood Brothers.
"I didn't come here alone; I had a lot of help," Wood said. "There's five of us brothers, and all of those have helped at one time or another. Leonard had been there all along for the whole 60-something years. Of course, we've had so many good drivers too. All of that led to where we are."
The Wood Brothers have won 98 Cup races, including five Daytona 500s, from 1950 to present. In just his second start with the team, Trevor Bayne won the 2011 Daytona 500 one day after turning 20 years old.