Pearson: Parks should get inducted first

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- After all the controversy surrounding David Pearson's exclusion from NASCAR's inagural Hall of Fame class, the "Silver Fox" is actually willing to wait his turn to be inducted.

And if it comes before others whom Pearson deems worthy of selection, he said Sunday he'd take himself out of consideration.

"I feel like if I was going in next year and I knew Raymond Parks wasn't, I'd withdraw my name to get him in," Pearson said of Parks, owner of the car Red Byron drove to NASCAR's first championship.

"He really needs to be in there. He needs to be the next main one to get in there."

Parks, who turns 96 next month, attended Thursday night's Hall of Fame gala with his family. Confined to a wheelchair, the top-hat clad Parks silently nodded to all his well-wishers.

To Pearson, it's men like Parks who are the real NASCAR pioneers.

"Raymond Parks, he owned a bunch of cars back then and even paid part of the purse," Pearson said. "I really feel like he really ought to be in the first class."

There were many who thought that Pearson should have been in the first group, as well.

Pearson's 105 wins ranked second only to Richard Petty's 200 victories on NASCAR's all-time win list. The three-time Cup champion had a winning percentage of 18.2 percent in a career that spanned 27 years -- but never a complete season.

Had he ever run a full schedule, many believed he could have challenged Petty's marks.

So there was some initial surprise when the inductees were selected last October and Pearson wasn't among the group. Inducted in Sunday's ceremony were NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., his son, Bill Jr., Petty, Junior Johnson and Dale Earnhardt.

Pearson, who attended Sunday's ceremony, isn't certain those were the right five -- but not because he wasn't in the group.

"You want to know the truth? I don't think the ones in there ought to be in there," he said. "I think the ones who really started the thing should be in it -- Tim Flock, Lee Petty -- all them guys like that, they should have gone in first. 'Cause they more or less got this thing going."

Voting on the second Hall of Fame class is expected to be done in October.