Hall of Fame inductees - Ford interview 2010-10-19

This Week in Ford Racing: October 19, 2010 This year's NASCAR Hall of Fame induction class has strong Ford ties as Bud Moore, Ned Jarrett, David Pearson and Bobby Allison all had memorable moments with the Blue Oval. Ford Racing conducted ...

This Week in Ford Racing:
October 19, 2010

This year's NASCAR Hall of Fame induction class has strong Ford ties as Bud Moore, Ned Jarrett, David Pearson and Bobby Allison all had memorable moments with the Blue Oval. Ford Racing conducted one-on-one interviews with Jarrett and Moore, and transcribed Allison's comments from a formal press conference that was held Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Ned Jarrett won Ford Racing's first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver's championship in 1965. Jarrett, who won two driving titles overall, is Ford's all-time winningest driver with 43 victories and is part of only two father-son duos to win NASCAR's most-coveted championship.

IT'S BEEN A COUPLE OF DAYS SINCE YOU WERE VOTED INTO THE NASCAR HALL OF FAME. HAS IT SUNK IN YET? "It's beginning to sink in more each day as each day goes by. When it happened, I was almost in shock. I am one of the three retired drivers that was asked to serve on the voting committee long before any nominee was ever announced, so going into the meeting on Wednesday I didn't think I had a chance. But after some of the discussion and I saw I had a lot of support in there, I began to have a better feeling about it. Still, I tried to not let my hopes get too high because I didn't want too big of a letdown in case I wasn't voted in. I was prepared for that, but it's sinking in and I'm realizing what a great thing it is. Of course, I knew when they announced the NASCAR Hall of Fame that it would be something very special and special to be a part of, and to be able to get in this early is very rewarding."

YOU WON FORD'S FIRST DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP AND REMAIN FORD'S ALL-TIME WINNINGEST DRIVER. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR MEMORIES OF THOSE DAYS? "My relationship with Ford Motor Company over the years has been great and something that I really appreciate. Having won the most races in a Ford race car in NASCAR history is very important to me and to have won the first championship for Ford in 1965 is very meaningful to me as well. I certainly appreciate all that Ford has done for the sport of auto racing over the years. It's much more than many fans realize and I appreciate my association with them, too. They've always been a great company to be associated with. I grew up in a Ford family on the farm. My dad had a Ford car. We only had one car and that was a Ford, and then when they came out with a Ford tractor, he bought a Ford tractor for the farm. He had a Ford truck that hauled the lumber from the sawmill that we had, so I grew up in a Ford family and then for one day to be able to race Ford cars and have some success in them is very meaningful to me."

HAVING YOU AND DALE WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS IN A FORD MUST BE EVEN MORE MEANINGFUL THEN. "That is very special, too. Having Dale go along and win a championship in a Ford car, and now is one of the largest Ford dealers in the country, means a lot to our whole family."

I UNDERSTAND YOU PLAYED GOLF THE DAY AFTER YOUR SELECTION. HOW DID THAT GO? "It was one of the worst rounds of golf I've ever had on the golf course. I told my buddies that I wish they wouldn't have inducted me into that Hall of Fame because it just tore my golf game up (laughing). But it was fun to just get out there and relax a little bit."

WAS THERE A LOT OF STRESS? "It certainly had taken its toll as far as my physical and mental being. I didn't sleep much that night, so I was tired. That didn't help my golf game any, but, nevertheless, it was nice to be able to go. Our group tees off at 10:30 in the morning and when we make the turn we stop and have a sit down lunch, and then we go out and play the other nine holes. When I walked into the lunch room at Catawba Country Club, there was a good crowd inside and they all stood and gave me a standing ovation. I really appreciated that and it made me feel real good."

***

Bud Moore ran Ford products for nearly four decades in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and has one of the most impressive driver rosters the sport has ever seen, including three of the six drivers so far inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame (Dale Earnhardt, Allison and Pearson). He won 63 NSCS races and 43 poles during his career.

HAS IT SUNK IN YET THAT YOU'RE BEING INDUCTED INTO THE NASCAR HALL OF FAME? "It hasn't quite sunk in, but it's sinking. It was a thrill to know that I was drawn out of the Top 25 and it was a great feeling. All I know is I was so surprised that I couldn't even talk. I know Ned and Bobby and the rest of us that went in, I knew that was probably gonna happen, but me going in with David Pearson and Bobby Allison - two guys that drove for me over the years - it felt real good."

THREE OF THE SIX DRIVERS INDUCTED THESE FIRST TWO YEARS DROVE FOR YOU AT SOME POINT. WHAT WAS YOUR PHILOSOPHY ON PUTTING GUYS IN YOUR CAR? "For the years that I was in racing, over 50 years, I had 43 different drivers drive for me. Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt and all the others, it was great to know that they went into the Hall of Fame when they did and it's just been great to know that I got to go in at the same time they did. It's a wonderful feeling and I'm looking forward to all the media that we'll be going through, and it's gonna be a good thing for all us being in the Hall of Fame. My family is real happy about it. All of my grandchildren and everybody are about to have a fit because I did go in, so it's a great feeling."

YOU WON THE 1978 DAYTONA 500 WITH BOBBY ALLISON. WHAT DO YOU RECALL FROM THAT DAY? "The biggest thing about that deal was Buddy Baker got out of our car and we hired Bobby. We went to Daytona and were in the 125-miler. We hadn't run but about three or four laps and Baker and Bobby were fighting for the lead and both of them spun out off turn two and Bobby backed the car into the wall. Baker didn't get bent up too bad, so we got back to the garage and I told the boys, 'Okay, we're gonna fix this car.' So we took it and put it on the frame machine to straighten that out on the back, and we went to a Ford dealership to get the Ford panels to fix the car, so we worked day and night getting that car ready. So Bobby came out to the race track on Saturday about noon and he was gonna tell me that he was going back to Alabama. He walked up and started to say, 'I'm fixing to leave. I'm going back,' and then he saw the car sitting there ready to go. He was so amazed. We went out and ran awful good all day in the race and we won the Daytona 500 with Bobby Allison, and right after the race Baker walks over and says, 'Damn, I just got out of that car and you win the Daytona 500.' So that was one of the biggest thrills I had, especially out of Baker because with Buddy driving the car for us all the time he did we won Talladega three times in a row. It was fun having Baker and real fun having Bobby drive for us. I think we won 14 races that year or two with Bobby Allison. We had a good run with Ford and I really enjoyed it. I had a good working deal with Edsel Ford and all the rest of them, so it was great."

***

Bobby Allison won 84 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in his career, which is tied for third on the all-time list. He went to Victory Lane 17 times in a Ford, including a span of three seasons (1978-80) in which he won 13 races, including the 1978 Daytona 500 with fellow inductee Bud Moore.

WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT BEING SELECTED FOR THE NASCAR HALL OF FAME? "I've got to say that it was a tremendous thrill and honor for me. I was hoping, but I was still really on guard that it may not happen for another phase or two. But I was so honored when my name was called. I felt like a million dollars again."

PRIOR TO 1978 YOUR CAREER HIT A SLUMP. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH BUD GOT YOU BACK ON THE MAP? "I've got to say that I was struggling. I'd been through a series of good and bad, and more bad than good, and all of a sudden it was more bad than bad even. I was really not feeling good and had worn myself down. I didn't really know what the reason was, but I had mostly worn myself out and wasn't eating right or sleeping right or anything. I was just feeling bad. Bud called me up and said, 'Get in this car for me and we'll go to work for you and get you a really good ride.' I was really struggling and those of you that know the situation, we went to Riverside and were fast and the car failed right away, which was a heart break for me. Buddy had been through a little bit of that the year before and we got to Daytona and we were doing pretty good. It rained out on Thursday, so the qualifying races were Friday morning.

"We were in the second qualifying race and Bud's previous driver (Buddy Baker) crashed into me on the last lap and tore our car all to pieces. He made it through the crash pretty good. He got his car reorganized after we got together. There was a hole in the track in turn three and the only way he could beat me for the race was to drive underneath that hole. Well, he got down there and got in the rocks and everything and got into me and in the wall I went. It tore the car all to pieces. So I went to the motel feeling sorry for myself and pouting and all those things I always did when I was younger. I just really suffered through the night and the next day I decided that I needed to go out there and tell Bud I was going to back to Alabama. Everything had gone sour on us and here we were in bad shape.

"I went back down to the garage and Bud and his group had repaired that car, straightened all the dents out, painted it and lettered it. I said, 'Wow, this thing looks so good. If they've done this for me, I've got to give them one more day.' So I bit my lip, Judy and I went and tried to get a little bit of rest that night and got there Sunday morning and started that race. The car was good. We had to start way in the back on account of being in that wreck, and it took quite a while to get to the front, but when I got to the front the car was there to stay and we got that Daytona 500 win. It really was a thrill for me. Bud and his attitude and his support of me and our gang, and the way he took Judy and Davey and Bonnie and Clifford and Carrie into the fold was just so good for me. It helped me get back on my feet, but it also helped me get back to Victory Lane. We wound up winning five times that year and finished second in the points. That really did help me get back going."

HOW SPECIAL IS IT THAT THE TWO OF YOU ARE GOING INTO THE HALL OF FAME TOGETHER? "I thought that was just so extra special when they announced that the other morning. I said, 'Wow, this is just so neat to be able to get into this thing,' and to be able to go in with (Bud) that always meant so much to me along the way. We separated on race teams, but we remained friends and to this day are still really good, personal friends."

ON NED JARRETT. "Let me tell you a story about Ned Jarrett. I was racing little old sportsmen trying to get my stuff going in South Florida before I even went to Alabama. I went to Alabama in 1959 and this had to be in '58 and Ned Jarrett was chasing a sportsmen championship and he came down through South Florida. For some reason, I think his car had a little problem or something and he came over and asked me if he could drive my car because he was going for points. I said, 'No, I'm driving it myself (laughing). You don't know me, but I've got to drive my own car.' I turned down Ned Jarrett and the gentleman that he is and the true champion competitor that he is said, 'I understand what you're saying, but I at least had to ask you and have a good night.' We remain friends and it's so special, so for Ned and Bud to be going in (is special).

ON DAVID PEARSON. "Now I wasn't friends with David Pearson. David Pearson didn't have any friends. David Pearson was so aimed at Victory Lane, and in those days we didn't have time to be buddy buddy with anybody anyway, but I wasn't friends with David Pearson until way after we were both done with our careers. The last few years we've been really good friends, but that's really quite a deal to be in the Hall with him and Ned and Bud."

ON LEE PETTY. "Lee Petty was ahead of me and I knew of him, but he had already done his deal and was out of the car by the time I was around running anything, but this has been just really neat for me."

WHAT'S IT LIKE SITTING IN THE AUDIENCE WAITING TO HEAR YOUR NAME CALLED AND THEN WHAT'S THE EMOTION WHEN IT IS? "For me, it was a real stream of emotions. I wondered, 'Well, am I gonna get some votes? Did I step on somebody's toes once too many times along the way?' With Bill France, Jr. we had a situation where I really admired him, but, at the same time, I had to make sure that whatever ruling he made applied to all of us. So I would stand up quite often and say, 'Now wait a minute, is that ruling for Fords or Chevys or Dodges or AMC Matadors?' Every once in a while we had to have a little fuss about one of those kind of things. Every once in a while there would be something that would go out in the press that would tell the story that made me look like I was really off-base on some things that I thought I was on-base. So I was really concerned that stepping on people's toes or whatever I was doing along the way might work against me in this thing. To be honest, I really did want to be in the class. The Hall of Fame is really special to me. It's so well done and so impressive and it is gonna be the premier NASCAR Hall of Fame - our kind of racing Hall of Fame -- more so than anywhere around. I had a lot of thoughts both ways. I felt like, 'Well, I have done a little bit of good here and there along the way,' and I had heard that I got the most fan votes and I thought that was a real pat on the back. Anyway, when he called my name I was like, 'Wow.'"

***

Eddie Wood was involved in one of the most dramatic moments in NASCAR history, serving as the spotter for David Pearson when he and Richard Petty collided coming to the checkered flag in the 1976 Daytona 500. With both cars stalled after making contact, Pearson was able to restart his Mercury first and limp across the finish line to win. Wood gave his thoughts on this year's Hall of Fame class and Pearson's selection.

WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE HALL OF FAME CLASS? "I think it's a good class. I was sitting two seats down from David and I was sitting behind Bud and was able to watch their reaction when Brian said their names. That said it all right there. I was just happy for all of them because they deserve to get in and I think it's well-deserved because they're both retired and it brings back all that history. I think NASCAR does a really good job of doing that, and I think that's what we need right now."

OUTSIDE OF YOUR DAD, GLEN, THE ONE PERSON YOU PROBABLY THINK OF WHEN YOU SAY WOOD BROTHERS RACING IS DAVID PEARSON. WHAT'S YOUR BEST MEMORY OF HIS DAYS WITH YOUR TEAM? "There was so much that happened because he drove for us for such a long, long time and won a lot of races, but I guess my biggest deal would be the '76 Daytona 500 because I was on the radio with David. We only had two radios so what we talked about no one knows but David and myself, so that's something I'll carry to the grave."

***

Jamie Allison, director, Ford North America Motorsport, provided his thoughts on the new NASCAR Hall of Fame class:

DAVID PEARSON. "Richard Petty once said that the greatest driver that he's ever raced against was David Pearson. That says a lot. So congratulations to David for his unbelievable stats, both driving for Ford and outside of Ford. We are so proud that he's had some of his greatest years with Ford, and especially the Wood Brothers."

BUD MOORE-"When you talk about Bud Moore, you talk about an accomplished owner, and an accomplished team. He just had an unbelievable array of drivers that have run under his watch. I personally remember what he did in Trans-Am with Parnelli Jones and the Mustangs. It just shows you the scale and the depth and confidence that Ford had in Bud and his team, whether it was in stock-car racing or sports car racing. He is an important part of Ford history."

NED JARRETT-. "Obviously, I've come of age more with Dale Jarrett running and winning in a Ford, but Ned being the winningest-Ford driver with 43 wins in NASCAR and our first NASCAR champion says quite a lot about him. He was an accomplished, gentleman racer and we're proud of all he did while racing under the Ford banner."

BOBBY ALLISON - "When I think of Bobby, I also think of Davey Allison. My name is Jamie Allison and when people ask if we're related I always say yes because who wouldn't want to be associated with Bobby and Davey? Eighty- four wins in NASCAR -- that's just phenomenal. To have them both be associated with Ford at the prime of their careers is something For Bobby, winning the '78 Daytona 500, and being affiliated with Bud Moore, makes it great that they go in together."

LEE PETTY - "Congratulations to Lee, who, although he never raced a Ford, certainly brought Richard Petty and Kyle Petty into it and they both have had a successful relationship with us. We're very proud of our relationship with everybody in the Petty family. "

-source: ford racing

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Jarrett , Kyle Petty , Ned Jarrett , Parnelli Jones , Richard Petty , Bobby Allison , Buddy Baker , David Pearson , Lee Petty , Davey Allison