Like Father, Like Son
by Tom Jensen June 17, 2022
For many NASCAR Hall of Famers, racing really was a family affair
NASCAR racing has always been a family affair. It was that way in the very beginning and it is that way today.
Families traveled to races together, worked on their cars together, raced and then packed up and went home together. Little kids who grew up with racing fathers played with the kids of other racing families until they got old enough to work themselves.
It was a nomadic lifestyle, certainly, but one that tended to build strong family bonds between parents and children.
At the NASCAR Hall of Fame, there are six fathers who have both been inducted themselves and had their sons follow them.
Not surprisingly, most of the fathers induced into the Hall of Fame were among the first two classes.
From the first Hall of Fame Class, Dale Earnhardt was inducted in 2010, while his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was voted into the Class of 2021. The elder Earnhardt won 76 premier series races and a record-tying seven championships, while Dale Jr. won 26 premier series races, two championships in what is now the NASCAR Xfinity Series and 15 Most Popular Driver Awards.
From the inaugural Class of 2010, came NASCAR founder William H.G. France (2010) and his son and successor, William C. France (2010). Together, the Frances led NASCAR from its inception in 1948, until October 2003, when Bill Jr. stepped down as chairman and CEO. Their strong and visionary leadership took the sport of NASCAR racing from being a Southern novelty to a national phenomenon.
And here’s an oddity: Lee Petty, from the Class of 2011, is the only individual with two sons in the Hall of Fame – Richard went in in 2010 and Maurice in 2014 – and the only father to be voted in after his son. Collectively, the Petty family won 10 premier series driver titles. Father Lee was NASCAR’s first three-time champion, while Maurice built the engines that powered Richard to set a record with seven titles.
Both families had fabulous success – Bobby won 84 premier series races and the 1983 title, while Davey added 19 wins, giving the duo 103 race victories, including a 1-2 finish in the 1988 Daytona 500, which Bobby won ahead of Davey.
The Jarretts weren’t exactly slouches, either. Ned won 50 times, earning titles in 1961 and ’65, while Dale, the 1999 premier series champion, won 32 races.
Last but certainly not least came Elzie Wylie Baker (2013) and Elzie Jr. (2020), better known as Buck and Buddy Baker, respectively. Buck was the first driver to win consecutive premier series championships, something he accomplished in 1956-57. The elder Baker won 46 races, while Buddy added 19 victories.
The numbers and the achievements generated by these Hall of Famers are indeed impressive. But more than that, they were fathers and family men, champions who in many cases raised champions themselves.
“The person that I looked up to the most, I didn’t have to look too far,” said Dale Jarrett. “He was in my home every single day. My dad has always been my hero, the person I looked to for advice or guidance for the right answers. And to help mold me into a person that he would be proud of the call his son.”
So as Father’s Day approaches, we salute the fathers who are making a difference in the lives of their children, just as these Hall of Famers did in years past.