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2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Hall of Fame Inductees

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Fourth Hall of Fame Class Inducted February 8th, 2013:

Five people have been elected by NASCAR officials, media and fans into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame class of 2013 includes three Championship winning drivers, a legendary car owner and one equally legendary mechanic and engine builder.

These five men are the fourth group of NASCAR greats to be enshrined in the official NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, NC.

Buck Baker:

Buck Baker's NASCAR career started at the same time NASCAR started. Baker drove a 1948 Kaiser at Charlotte Speedway in the very first Strictly Stock race in 1949. Baker earned $50 for his eleventh place finish that day.

During a career that spanned twenty-six seasons Buck Baker competed in 635 races and won 46 of them. His career peaked in the mid-fifties when he became the first driver to win back-to-back Championships which he accomplished in 1956 and 1957.

Buck Baker passed away in 2002

Herb Thomas:

Herb Thomas is another NASCAR pioneer who, like Buck Baker, also participated in the very first Strictly Stock event at Charlotte Speedway in 1949. Thomas didn't do as well that day since his 1947 Ford had mechanical problems leaving him to finish 29th and earn zero dollars.

Herb Thomas' best years came in the early fifties when he won the Championship in 1951 and again in 1953. Driving his own Hudson Hornet Herb Thomas was the first two-time Champion and the first owner/driver to win the Championship.

In all Herb Thomas' career spanned 228 races over ten years and included an impressive 48 career wins. That means that Thomas won 21% of the races that he entered.

Herb Thomas was the inspiration for "Doc Hudson" in the Disney/Pixar movie Cars. Unfortunately, Herb passed away in 2000.

Rusty Wallace:

Modern race fans are more likely to be familiar with Rusty Wallace. While the other two were already winning Championships in the fifties Rusty Wallace wasn't born until 1956.

Rusty Wallace's NASCAR career spanned twenty-five seasons and 706 races including fifty-five career wins. The highlight of Rusty's career was his 1989 Championship where he edged Dale Earnhardt by just twelve points to claim the cup.

Rusty remains active in the sport working as a television broadcaster.

Cotton Owens:

Cotton Owens started his NASCAR career as a driver in 1950 but it was as a car owner that he truly left his mark on the sport.

His driving career spanned 15 seasons including nine wins over 160 races. His best points year was 1959 when he finished second behind Lee Petty having run five fewer races than Petty.

In 1966 Cotton Owens was the car owner and crew chief for "The Silver Fox" David Pearson when he won his Championship. Some of Owens' other legendary drivers included Ralph Earnhardt, Fireball Roberts, Marvin Panch, Junior Johnson, Mario Andretti, Bobby Allison, Buddy Baker, Al Unser and more.

Cotton Owens passed away in June of 2012 shortly after learning that he had been elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Leonard Wood:

Leonard Wood will join his brother Glen Wood who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012. Leonard is the the other half of the original Wood Brothers racing team. This team started operating in 1953 and continues to this day.

Leonard has made many contributions to the sport over the years but he is probably best known as the man who revolutionized pit stops. It was Leonard Wood who first started to think about how to save time in the pits. He organized the pit crew, had them practice and actively looked for ways to shave seconds on pit road before anyone else was looking for performance gains during tire changes.

Leonard Wood was so successful in NASCAR that he was invited to provide the over-the-wall gang for Jim Clark in the 1965 Indianapolis 500. The team won that race in part because of Wood's pit road genius.

Wood's approach included introducing specialized racing equipment that is commonplace today. Things like power wrenches to remove lug nuts and lighter jacks that required fewer pumps were some of Leonard Wood's innovations which truly changed the sport.

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