NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Changes

Yesterday, the NASCAR Hall of Fame announced a change to their induction rules. Instead of inducting five members every year, as they’ve done since 2010, they’ll be inducting only 3. One of those will be a ‘founder’ and the other two will be contemporary.

The changes will make two important impacts on future inductions: numbers and who gets in.

Impact on Numbers

This change will decrease the overall number of people inducted into the Hall of Fame. The change was necessary: compare how many people retire each year, how many of those are Hall-of-Fame-induction worthy, and the number of spots.

A line chart comparing how many people would be in the NASCAR Hall of Fame if they kept the number inducted set at five vs. changing it to three

In 2060, the NASCAR Hall of fame will now have 175 members instead of 255. That’s 80 fewer members. I summarized how the total number of inductees changes as a function of year below.

YearOld SchemeNew Scheme
20258070
203010585
2040155115
2045180130
2050205145
2055230160
2060255175

Of course, they many change the rules again if we end up with deserving people waiting too long.

Who Gets In

I’ve noted before that drivers are disproportionately represented in the Hall of Fame. Drivers make up about 62% of the inductees — 69% if you include those inducted as driver/owners.

The change in number of inductees means that there will be fewer chances to induct outstanding crew chiefs, engine builders and other technical people.

NASCAR will have to do some serious thinking about how you weigh the relative merits of crew chiefs and drivers. I’d like to see them have a technical section similar to the section for broadcasters. This would be the appropriate place to honor people like Dean Sicking, Robert Hubbard, Tom Gideon, Steve Peterson. These researchers have not only made NASCAR great, they’ve made NASCAR possible by saving lives of drivers and spectators.

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