Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ingram pleased (from 2013)

Ingram pleased to be in next NASCAR Hall of Fame class
Posted: Thursday, May 30, 2013 11:12 pm | Updated: 11:14 pm, Thu May 30, 2013.
By TOM GILLISPIE Special To The Record
HICKORY, N.C. -- It’s not easy becoming a hall-of-fame racer.
Still, Jack Ingram says he wasn’t surprised when he learned he’s a new member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
 “Not really,” he said last Friday. “I had a lot support last (year), and I was told by one of the voters that I’d gotten a lot of support… He pretty much let me know.”
Ingram, the two-time Hickory Motor Speedway champion, was one of five men who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014. The others are Conover’s Dale Jarrett, engine builder Maurice Petty, and two deceased drivers, Tim Flock (the winner of the first Cup race at HMS) and Glenn “Fireball” Roberts Jr.
The Hall of Fame voting, by percentage of vote, was Flock at 76, Petty at 67, Jarrett at 56, Ingram at 53 and Roberts at 51.
Ingram also talked himself up among the voters, and he says he got twice as many votes as he did last year.
He says another HMS standout, Robert Pressley, “made a big presentation to the voters. It wasn’t what I did. He gave facts and proof.”
Pressley was one of 54 voters for the hall of fame, and he was among the 21 on the nominating committee. He says a lot of voters didn’t know about Ingram’s accomplishments.
“I thought (Ingram) was very worthy of going in, along with Dale Jarrett and Maurice Petty,” Pressley said of the three living people who were voted in.
Ingram, Jarrett and Petty (the brother of Richard Petty) went to the Hall of Fame last Saturday for a ceremony, then to Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday to be honored again.
“It was a great honor to be part of the list (of nominees),” Jarrett said Sunday at Charlotte. “But as I looked at that list, you could make a case for everyone on there. I couldn’t even imagine going through that process of trying to pick out just five out of those 25.
“I am very honored, but I was … I think shocked is a good word. Once I knew I was on the list, I knew it would come one day, but was ready to accept that would be down the road.”
Jarrett, like Ingram, is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame. He was a three-time Daytona 500 winner, a two-time Brickyard 400 winner and the 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.
Other than the championship, the highlight of DJ’s career probably came when father Ned was announcing the 1993 Daytona 500 on CBS and was encouraged to root his son on against Dale Earnhardt. “It’s the Dale and Dale Show,” Ned Jarrett said, “and you know who I’m pulling for, Dale Jarrett.”
When the five 2014 inductees to the NASCAR Hall of Fame were being announced last week, NASCAR boss Brian France said he was about to introduce a “short-track ace,” and Ingram knew it was him.
“(That’s when) I hit the guy on the left of me and said, ‘That’s it, I’m in here,’ because there was no one else sitting around that would fit that bill,” Ingram said Sunday at Charlotte. “I called my wife, and I had to hang up, I was breaking up so bad. I about lost it.”
It means a lot
It irks Ingram that some voters thought his career began when the NASCAR Budweiser Late Model Sportsman Series opened in 1982. Ingram won 31 races (then a record) and two championships in a series that morphed into Busch Grand National, the Busch Series and now the Nationwide Series.
He was a three-time champion before NASCAR took over the Late Model Sportsman Series. He also was named Stock Car Racing magazine’s short-track Driver of the Decade of the 1970s and one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers of all time in 1998.
“A lot (of voters) thought I started when I was 45 in 1982,” said Ingram. “It was all they could read. I won 317 Late Model Sportsman races.”
Did anyone have any more Late Model Sportsman wins?
“Good Lord, no,” Ingram said, adding his friend Harry Gant is probably second in series wins.
It took four tries to get Ingram to say what the NASCAR Hall of Fame selection means to him.
“It means a lot,” he said quickly before changing the subject.
A difficult task
Apparently it’s tough to be a voter for the Hall of Fame, too.
“This was one of our toughest years,” Pressley said. “It’s getting tougher and tougher. The first year (2010) was easy. They had to put in the Frances (Bill Sr. and Bill Jr.), Richard Petty, Junior Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Sr. That was easy.
“It’s gotten tougher each year, and next year will be even tougher.”
Pressley says he’d like to see drivers Joe Weatherly and Jerry Cook in the Hall. Cook, Weatherly and Wendell Scott were the top vote-getters behind the five voted in.
“The other ones I look at are not on the ballot, Banjo Matthews and Ray Evernham,” Pressley said of the car builder and the crew chief.
His other favorite for the future is Catawba native Bobby Isaac, who has long been honored at HMS with the Bobby Isaac Memorial race.
“Bobby Isaac was on my list,” said Pressley, who like Ingram is from the Asheville area. “He was so close to getting in this year. I can guarantee you that he will be a future hall of famer, for sure.”
Tom Gillispie, the co-author of “Then Junior Said to Jeff…,” writes about racing at Hickory Motor Speedway for HDR Sports. He can be reached at

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