Following two votes by the 53-member voting committee, the five newest members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame were selected on Wednesday. The second vote was due to a tie for the fifth and final spot in the fourth Hall class to be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame during a special ceremony in Charlotte on Feb. 8.
“It’s pretty clear that this was the toughest class (to select),” NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said.
The tie was the first in the history of NASCAR Hall of Fame selection. Once both votes were cast and the tie broken, Herb Thomas, Leonard Wood, Rusty Wallace, Cotton Owens and Buck Baker were announced as the class soon-to-be-inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Once officially inducted, Wood will join his brother Glen Wood in the Hall of Fame. Their famed No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing team is the oldest team still in competition at the Sprint Cup level. In the early days of the sport, Glen may have been the driver, but Leonard Wood was crew chief, head mechanic and engineer on the car.
Herb Thomas, Collon Owens and Buck Baker are also names from the early years of the sport. Thomas claimed top-level NASCAR titles in 1951 and 1953, and Baker became the first driver two win back-to-back championships a few years later, in 1956 and 1957.
Owens began his NASCAR career as a driver, competing in NASCAR’s top division in the 1950s and early 1960s. When his driving career was over, he continued on in NASCAR as a car owner. It was then that he won a championship — the 1966 owner’s title.
Aside from Wood still being an active part-time team owner in the sport, Wallace is the most recent NASCAR competitor among the latest list of inductees, claiming the Sprint (then-Winston) Cup title as a driver in 1989. He now finds his racing home in the ESPN broadcast booth during NASCAR telecasts on that network.
Photo of the NASCAR Hall of Fame voting room courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR
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