NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony: Dale Inman
Topics: Dale Inman, NASCAR
January 20, 2012
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
MIKE JOY: En route to helping build a sport, tonight's first inductee also built a legacy here at the University of Level Cross. He turned pit road into his personal playground, guiding Richard Petty to glory. Tonight, Dale Inman and Richard are together again as members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
RICHARD PETTY: Well, they just took my speech away from me there on that camera deal. I guess I'll just start out with telling you, we started out 75 years ago, Dale did, I'm not quite that old, and again, it shows we're born in the country with dirt roads, the whole deal, we grew up, didn't know what a race car was, used to race our bicycles down to the creek, go swimming, stuff like that. It was just plain old situation where we was country and didn't know any better.
And then my dad started racing. That kind of took us out all over the country. I don't guess me and Dale, either one, had been out of Randolph County until we went to race somewhere in Wilkesboro somewhere. Anyhow, we just grew up together, grew up around it. Neither one of us was that mechanically inclined. We just sort of learned as we went. My dad taught us a lot, and we learned a lot on our own.
And way back when, there wasn't no such thing as a crew chief. You know, they had mechanics, crew mechanics, whatever they wanted to call them, and Dale was basically the first one. He's the one that basically started the crew chief operation, because we used to‑‑ I guess in 1958 or something, my brother and Dale drove a '57 Oldsmobile to California, run the race and drove it back home. That was pit crew, that was the whole deal. And that's the way it started.
So we learned as we went, and over a period of time we got lucky, we got a truck, we got a trailer, went big‑time, hired two or three people to go to work for us. Dale come back out of the service and went to work for us full‑time, and when we did‑‑ I guess that was like '62, '63, somewhere, where he went full‑time. He worked for us all that time just on weekends, went to the races, went all over the country, Daytona, whatever. And he was involved in a lot of different things.
And over a period of time we got more people to work on the car. Where Dale was so good, he was good with people. Somebody just drive up in the driveway and want a job, we had a place to put them in, Dale put them in there, worked them, and he was able to take a talent and know how far he could go with that talent, know how far this guy could really come along in the company, what he could do, whether he could change tires or work on the engine or rear end or whatever.
And I guess over a period of time, I always look back, Linda and myself think every once in a while about the people that graduated out of the Dale Inman School at Petty Enterprises. I'll read you off a few of them here, Mike Beam, Barry Dodson, Jake Elder, Tony Glover, Steve Mills, Robby Loomis, Robin Pemberton. These guys won championships, they won races, because they learned from Dale how things needed to be done. He was one of the first ones to come in and take a car in and completely disassemble it from one race to another instead of waiting until something broke or just checking wheel bearings and stuff like that, completely disassembled engines, the cars.
And in doing that, that made those cars almost bulletproof. That's the reason we won a lot of races. But the deal is people didn't really understand the strategy of what Dale sort of figured. He knew what he was trying to do, he watched over people, he knew whether they was going to change tires, get gas, whatever.
Just showed like the Daytona in '81. Everybody would make a pit stop. They did their strategy. Then he comes back and does something different. Luckily we didn't run out of gas, and we did win the race.
But it was a gamble to a certain extent, but he knew we wasn't going to win the race if we didn't do something like that. You see more and more of that stuff coming along.
But of the 180 some, 90 some races that we won together, there's probably dozens of them in there that I don't think about or he don't think about, made the right call at the right time to make the thing all work. And in doing that, it made it good for me, it made it good for him, it made it good for the racing, and from the standpoint of the things that he's accomplished, from, okay, I guess 1964 to 1984, he won eight championships, and that's pretty good in 20 years.
And like I say, almost 200 wins, seven Daytonas, 27 races one year, ten in a row. I mean, it takes a pretty good crew just to have a car running ten races and not thrown out of the race to begin with. But the big deal that Dale had that really made the whole thing work was people. He knew how to work with people. If he was going to get on to you, he'd take you off to the side and tell you about it. He didn't let you know it, get in front of somebody and really make you feel bad. He knew how to work people.
And the deal with working people was what it was all about. We started out, we had five or six people, then we had ten people, then we had 15 or 20 people. And as time went on, he was able just to bring more and more people in, do different things and make the whole deal.
And I always looked at the way that Dale approached things, with attitude, confidence and focus. That's what he did with his people, and that's the reason he was able to be a winner like what he is.
I'm supposed to say this: It is now my honor on this 20th day of January, 2012, to present the Hall of Fame inductee ring and special induct Dale Inman into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
DALE INMAN: I'm kind of familiar with this ring. For the last two or three years Richard has put it in my face a bunch of times. (Laughter.)
I want to introduce my family, Mary, my wife of some 52 years; my daughter Tina; her husband Chris; my granddaughter Taylor; Logan; my son Jeffrey; his wife Melissa; and my grand daughters Peyton and Addison. I'm so proud of all of you.
Linda is here tonight, Linda Petty. I'm so glad you're here. You've meant so much to me and Mary over the years, it's just‑‑ there's no words for it. I'm so glad you're here.
And of course Terry Labonte and his wife Kim. Terry, the '84 season was very special. And Terry, we're going to have to worry about the Cowboys and the Indians this weekend, will we? They're gone.
Richard hit on me and Maurice driving the race car to Riverside, California, in 1958. He didn't clear that up very good. Him and Maurice was supposed to drive it, and he was out in the yard showing off and trying to walk on his hands and hurt his shoulder, so I was his substitute driver, and I won't go into that much, but you didn't race but you drove the race car to Riverside, California, run a 500‑mile road course, then got home and rode down in Wilcox, Arizona, had to order a housing from another town, and it come in on the bus. I didn't think this country boy would ever get home.
And then in today's world, we talk about track conditions. We might have a ten‑degree change in temperature. We might have a cloud cover. But I happen to be lucky enough to be with the Pettys on the beach in 1958, the last race on the beach. Four miles out‑‑ how many miles down the beach? A long way. And then you go through a sand bank, up the beach when the tide is out, and Junior has run there, but you're talking about track conditions, now, that was some track conditions.
And then we still get back to 1958, and back then the drivers had to be 21 years old before they could drive, and that would affect a lot of it today. But Richard turned 21 July the 2nd, 1958, and ten days later, me and him and the Red Miler took a convertible to Columbia, South Carolina, eight miles of dirt, slick track. We get down there and Richard had never driven. We didn't know whether he could last or not. Joe Willy was down there without a car, so we talked to Joe and said if Richard needs help, will you help him. He said, well, sure.
And of course this was before radios, so we had to communicate with black boards, and the signal for a driver was go to your head. Of course the drivers today with radios uses some gestures, but they're pretty expensive. But Richard went to his head two or three times, and I'd go get Joe and Joe would come and put his helmet on, his little golfing gloves. Going home, I said, Richard what was you doing, he was wanting relief and you wouldn't come in. He said, oh, my head was itching.
So it's come a long way. And of course you probably haven't raced until the mid '60s when we'd leave home with a race car in a period of about ten days. We'd run five or six races where we'd come home, and that was‑‑ I guess it was fun. I don't know.
And then, of course, Mr.Helton hit on it last night. He said they used to run the Daytona race, the July race on the 4th of July no matter what day it turned out on, so in '69 it turned out to be on a Friday. And this was great. The only problem was we had run Dover on Sunday and had never seen the place. Nobody had ever seen it. And of course we won that one. (Laughter.)
Of course I'd like to say a special thanks to all branches to the military, the men and women that keep us free. It is so great for the military.
And of course I'm proud that I served my time, you know what I mean. And it's just‑‑ when I look back over all this, the wins, the Daytona wins, the championships and all that, I think over the years the people I've met, the places I've seen, the friends I've made, both in and out of racing, that sticks out big. Now, maybe years ago it wouldn't have, but I know some of us older people respect that.
I'd like to thank the entire staff here at the Hall of Fame and NASCAR, what a wonderful job they've done for us, and they've been so nice to me and my family. And congratulations to the other four inductees and their family. I know they're very proud. And of course you know we're coming up on the 2012 season. Imagine that.
And I want to wish all the luck in the world to all the active crew chiefs now, and especially to the 9 and the 43; get after 'em, boys.
I just want to thank everybody. It's been such a big night tonight, really a thrill for me, and thank you so much. Thank everybody.
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