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NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony: Cale Yarborough

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Cale Yarborough, NASCAR

NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony: Cale Yarborough

Cale Yarborough
January 20, 2012


THE MODERATOR:  Cale Yarborough has joined us.  He was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame tonight.  Listening to your remarks tonight, you talked about that you felt like it was being on a ladder, NASCAR racing was on a ladder, now you're at the top.  Just talk about maybe as you reflect back now that you got the Hall of Fame jacket on and what you're going to take away maybe from this weekend when you go back to South Carolina.
CALE YARBOROUGH:  I'm going to remember that this was one of the best days of my life.  This is what I have‑‑ I didn't know I was working for it, but I've worked for all of my life, and it just happened tonight.  I'm just so proud to be a part of it and been so blessed to climb that long ladder from the bottom step, now I'm standing on that top step.  Can't go any higher, but can't nobody push me off, either.

Q.  If you would, talk about how you got into IndyCar racing and what got your start there and what made you want to come back to NASCAR.
CALE YARBOROUGH:  When I was running for the Wood Brothers, I ran two years, 1966 and '67 for Ronald Bolstad.  He was a car owner out of Portland, Oregon, and I could do it because we were going to run on the superspeedways, and at the time it didn't interfere with the Wood Brothers.
But then, Gene White, after Ford pulled out of racing, I didn't know what was going to happen, and I went with Gene White.  He offered me a two‑year cart to run nothing but IndyCars all over the world wherever they were racing.  And I did.  I enjoyed it.  I didn't have the kind of equipment to run with, but I ran tenth at Indy my last time up there.
But I was anxious to get back to the stock cars and NASCAR.  It was very, very blessed again to fall in with Junior Johnson.

Q.  You spoke very kindly of the Wood Brothers when you were giving your speech.  How important was it in terms of shaping your career to get the opportunity to drive for them when you did?
CALE YARBOROUGH:  Biggest opportunity of my life at the time.  Of course Ford had a lot to do with that, the guy named Jacques Passino who had been watching me and helping me and thought that I had the potential of being the kind of race driver that they were looking for for teams.  They helped me an awful lot, but when they put me with the Wood Brothers, I felt like I had died and gone to heaven really because that was the best place you could be at the time.

Q.  How much was the dress that your wife purchased, because I know you like to keep your money close at hand.
CALE YARBOROUGH:  Too much, but we're going to get some of those black-eyed peas on sale next week.
No, listen.  The black-eyed pea story is a true story.  But I was kidding her about that.  She deserves better than what she got, I'll tell you that.

Q.  You were talking about this being a night for thank yous.  Did you feel like this is the first time you had a chance to thank the people in NASCAR for everything you had?  You had Darrell up there, he's still a part of the sport, and you haven't really been a part.
CALE YARBOROUGH:  Yeah, it was a big moment for me because most of the people I thanked tonight played a major role in me being able to be on that stage tonight.  Any one of them that could have not done what they did for me coming up could have sidetracked me all together.  I was very grateful to be able to thank them tonight.

Q.  When you retired out, you were essentially at the top of your game.  Did you ever want to come back?
CALE YARBOROUGH:  No, never considered coming back, even though I knew I could still get the job done, and had a lot of people that tried to get me to come back.  But I had made up my mind what the rest of my life was going to be like, and I stuck with it.

Q.  I have a question when you had all the success in NASCAR racing, you never played with the idea that you would set up a team?  And the second question is concerning your history in long distance racing.  Maybe I'm wrong, but I think you also went to LeMans one year to do the 24 hours; is this correct?
CALE YARBOROUGH:  Yeah, yeah, I drove for Billy Hagen, who drove a Camaro over there one time and ran real good until the brakes went out on it.  We were the most popular car in that race one year.  You could hear that thing coming all the way around that racetrack.  We had a lot of fans there.  We were running good, but something happened to the brakes, put us out.

Q.  Growing up in the hot summers farming in South Carolina and racing, did you ever think your career was going to take the route that it did?  And also, what does tonight really mean to you?
CALE YARBOROUGH:  Well, I sure hoped I was going to get to this point because working in the back of the fields in that hot sun would take you want to do something else, I'll tell you that.  I always dreamed of doing what‑‑ ending up where I have ended up tonight.  Very blessed.
THE MODERATOR:  Cale, congratulations on being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

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