NASCAR inductees different

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 24, 2011

By Scott Adamson
Scripps Howard News Service
When the NASCAR Hall of Fameís Class of 2012 was announced last month, there was a wee bit of contrast between the reactions of Cale Yarborough and fellow inductee Darrell Waltrip.
You might remember olí D.W. was crestfallen a year ago when he wasnít named to the Class of 2011, and spent several days looking (and acting) like a little boy lost.
This year when his name was called his enthusiasm and joy was hard to contain.
He actually kissed NASCAR CEO Brian France.
Cale didnít say anything last year, other than something along the lines of ěI figure Iíll make it in sooner or later.î
And this year he noted the honor by way of a written statement:
ěI am very happy about this honor today. It caps off a good career that I had. It puts me in the company with some of the best in the world. To be selected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame and now be alongside those that founded the sport and made it what it is today is a tremendous thrill and honor for me.î
Yarborough hasnít fully recovered from back surgery so he was unable to make the trip to Charlotte for the announcement. Even if he had, though, he probably wouldíve received the news with a smile and little more.
Of course thereís nothing wrong with either reaction ó Waltripís celebration or Yarboroughís lack of same.
But in a way it mirrors the career of the two drivers who werenít exactly buddies during their driving days ó or loved by the masses.
Waltrip was always brash and ready to talk to anyone willing to listen (and even those not willing to listen). In fact Yarborough gave him the nickname ěJaws.î
Yarborough was feisty and often contrary, but more content to simply clock in and let his car ó or his fists ó attract the attention.
And his fight with Donnie and Bobby Allison at the end of the 1979 Daytona 500 is still credited with making the sport national in stature.
During the race Yarborough was trying to chase down Donnie Allison on the final lap. As the pair tried to occupy the same space they hit each other twice and crashed into the retaining wall.
That allowed Richard Petty to win, and caused Donnie and Bobby Allison to trade a few punches with Yarborough on the infield grass. The entire incident happened on national television.
Waltrip kept NASCAR in the news by giving the sport a brash side to go along with its down home, slow-talking roots. He feuded with other drivers, feuded with NASCAR officials, and gave fans someone to boo when he had the temerity to knock their favorite drivers out of a given race.
Today, Yarborough ó winner of 83 Cup races ó lives on his 4,000-acre plantation in Sardis, S.C. and rarely makes public appearances.
Waltrip, who claimed 84 Cup checkers, continues to chatter away as a NASCAR analyst.
Both were champions and now both are in the Hall of Fame.
And considering Yarborough is content to spend his time out of the limelight and Waltrip has managed to stay in it, well, things havenít really changed all that much.