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NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony: Dale Inman

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Dale Inman, NASCAR

NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony: Dale Inman

Dale Inman
January 20, 2012


THE MODERATOR:  We're here with Dale Inman.  Dale was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame tonight.  We've got two drivers that have won seven championships, but as a crew chief you have won eight.  Talk about‑‑ you look back on all those championships.  Talk about how all of that came together working for the Petty Enterprises and then all of a sudden you're in the Hall of Fame.
DALE INMAN:  Well, the Hall of Fame is great, no doubt about that.  And when some of them was coming around and being accumulated, we didn't think there would be a Hall of Fame, and we really wasn't running for anything other than trying to beat the competitors and get enough money to survive on and stuff like that.  And it's growed into this great big sport that we've got now.
You know, what an honor it's been to work with the different drivers over the years but most of them with Richard.  They used the term eight championships, but it's in a different league from what the drivers are, and I give that respect.
But to be the first crew chief to come in, I'm sure there will be more after this, is quite an honor.

Q.  What did you mean when you walked off the stage and said, it's such a long ride, I hope it's not over yet?
DALE INMAN:  Well, if you look at our date of birth, you'll see what I'm talking about.  We've been around a long time, you know, and to still be as active as we are with the sport and everything, you know what we've been through, and we're still surviving.  I think that's great.
But no, it was just a phrase.  I didn't mean nothing by it.  But look at our date of birth, and you might understand what I'm talking about.

Q.  Do you think your induction is going to pave the way for more crew chiefs to get consideration for this hall?
DALE INMAN:  No, I'm sure there will be, and like I said‑‑ I don't know if I said it on stage or not, but I'm really looking forward to what the next group will be because there's certainly some other categories out there that should be added.  But no, there's crew chiefs that will be in for sure later on down the line.  They haven't asked me to say who do you think, and boy, I wouldn't touch that with a ten‑foot pole.

Q.  We hear a lot of talk today from teams and competitors and owners talking about how long the season is and how much it takes out of them.  You guys ran twice as many races back in the day.  What did you do?  How did you all manage to not get burned out?
DALE INMAN:  Well, I retired there for a while at the end of the '98 season, and there's two words I hate about it, I paid my dues and I'm burned out, but I think I was both of them at that time and enjoyed a little bit of time off and Richard came back to me and said he wanted me to come back and be a consultant.  I don't take the full brunt of it like I used to.  And my theme to him, it ain't always been this easy.
But it's tough on the crew chiefs now.  I mentioned the wave‑around, the lucky dogs, the pit strategy, two tires, four tires, track position is so important.  And years ago we practiced from early in the morning until late at night.  Now if they give you an hour and 15 minutes of practice, man, it's right on the nose, so you've got to schedule‑‑ there's just so many‑‑ it's just a different world from what it used to be.
But my hats off to them even in this era that we talk about now.

Q.  When you served in the military, did you have any of your non‑commissioned officers that helped you learn a little bit about dealing with people, because when Richard said in his remarks, said that you were a great people person and the way that you got things done was through your people, could you expand upon that, please?
DALE INMAN:  Well, when I was drafted in the service, I went in in 1959, and I'd been around racing a little bit.  I took my basic training in Jacksonville, South Carolina, sent me to Dover, Delaware for basic training, and then I went overseas in France, and they put me in an ordinance company, which is maintenance on vehicles, and I was over there about probably six weeks, and they rotated a sergeant out who had been in 18 years, and they put me in charge, and I'd been in about three or four months.
Maybe I took some of my skills to them.  That's what I was doing at that time, which was working on vehicles.

Q.  I have a question concerning the 1970 or '71 season.  At that time Petty Enterprises' was running the Superbird with a big rear wing.  How did you prove that this car was working on the track?
DALE INMAN:  Yeah, the Superbird, we only lasted one year with it, and the way that story goes, we were running Plymouth, and of course we was working for Chrysler, and the Dodge came along, and in 1969, they came along with a Daytona which had a wing.  Richard said he couldn't compete if Plymouth didn't come with a wing.  So we went to Ford in 1969, and then they said, and what does it take to get you back into racing with us, and he said, put a wing and a nose on a car, and they did.
And we done right good with it, but Pete Hamilton won three races with us that year.  But as good as that car was, we probably got a third of the knowledge out of it because of‑‑ like you said, there wasn't a wind tunnel and all that other stuff, but we learned from what looked good, most of the time was good, and then of course the next year NASCAR didn't outlaw it, but they put an engine rule on that crippled it so it wouldn't run.

Q.  I know during some of the announcement ceremonies in the past couple years, I think it was just good natured ribbing between you and Richard about the fact that you felt like you should have been in before him because you had eight championships and he had seven, but over the years have the two of you taken the time, whether it's in what little bit of an off‑season we have or maybe on the farm on a non‑race weekend, sit back and realize how much you used to beat the crap out of everyone else that was in the sport?
DALE INMAN:  No, Richard has been special to me all over the years, and of course Lynda has, too, to our family and everything.  The reason some of that comes about, he's told me he would have won 400 races if it hadn't been for me and 14 championships.  Then I come back and tell him, yeah, you've made pit stops at Martinsville for directions.  That's just the relations that we have.  So no, that was nothing like that.  It was only the joking end of it.

Q.  Similar to what this gentleman was said, 1967, when you had 27 wins and ten in a row, is that something today you look back on and think, that's one of the special achievements, and was it at the time where you just thought it was always going to be that way?
DALE INMAN:  Well, you know, it was certainly a special season for us, and we just got on a streak there, and it was‑‑ put a lot of pressure on us because you was winning and then you knew some day you was going to lose.  I didn't want to see that day, but it happened.
We just got on kind of a roll that year, and it seemed like that particular car would not lose a race.  It didn't want to lose.  I don't know these stories about horses and everything, and I guess that car was kind of like that.
But then we come back in '68 and had a decent year, but things just happened to us that wasn't supposed to happen.  You know, and like Richard‑‑ he's real good at it.  He's never praised me but he's never scolded me, but he just says you can't overcome circumstances.  This is a different version of it, but there's been two races where we were leading, 500‑lap races, one at Dover and one at Bristol, leading, blowed the engine, coasted, got white flag and couldn't coast back and get the checkered.  You talk about frustration, that sets in then.

Q.  The crew chiefs today have computers and engineers and specialists on everything.  How much fun would it be to see those guys work through what you did in order to get championships?
DALE INMAN:  Well, to start with I'd have to have a little bit better education and use some of the stuff they've got now.  But I tell them the stopwatch tells it all.  You make a change and you read the stopwatch, and if it's better, that's good.  If it's worse, you go back the other way.  But they ask the computers and everything and the models and all the stuff that they've got.  We've got two engineers on each car, and some teams might have more than that.
But the big critical thing right now is the tires are so critical to these race cars, and we first started hearing they was changing the air pressure two tenths of a pound, and heck, we didn't have a gauge that would read within two or three pounds of each other and certainly wouldn't repeat.  It's hard to believe how sensitive these cars are, and my hats off to them because they've just about got them so fast they can't race them.
THE MODERATOR:  Congratulations on being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  Enjoy the rest of the weekend, and we'll see you at Daytona.

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