Fireball Roberts Leads 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductees
- Glenn "Fireball" Roberts is one of five people selected as 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees.
- Roberts was one of the sport's first superstar drivers.
- Also to be inducted are Tim Flock, Jack Ingram, Dale Jarrett and Maurice Petty.
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — One of stock car racing's first true superstars, the man who had a catchy but tragically ironic nickname — Glenn "Fireball" Roberts — is one of five people selected as 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees. Also to be inducted on January 29 are Tim Flock, Jack Ingram, Dale Jarrett and Maurice Petty.
Edward Glenn Roberts Jr. died at age 35 on July 2, 1964, after he was badly burned in a crash during the World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway nine days earlier. It was a premature end to the career of the man from Tavares, Florida, who won the 1962 Daytona 500.
The nickname helped him rise to fame as NASCAR began to grow in popularity after Daytona International Speedway opened in 1959, ushering in an era of big tracks and stock car speeds that rivaled those of the cars racing in the Indianapolis 500. Roberts had big victories among his 33 career wins, including a pair of Southern 500 wins at Darlington Raceway.
With crew-cut athletic good looks and a big grin, Roberts was a crowd-pleasing favorite in cars such as the black-and-gold Pontiacs built by the legendary Smokey Yunick and lavender Holman-Moody Fords. His cars usually carried the number 22.
Flock, NASCAR's second two-time champion (1952, 1955), and Roberts were linked in a controversy that led to both of them and a third driver, Curtis Turner, being banned for life by NASCAR founder Bill France when they tried to organize stock car drivers into a branch of the Teamsters Union in 1960.
Roberts was quickly reinstated when he renounced the organizing effort. Turner returned in 1965. Flock, who died at age 73 in 1998, never returned to competition.
Ingram, now 76, a short-track specialist from Asheville, North Carolina, won the first championship title in 1982 in what is now the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He won a second title in 1985.
Jarrett, the 1999 Cup Series champion, joins his father, Ned, who won championships in 1961 and 1965 and retired at age 34 in 1966. Both father and son moved into broadcasting careers in motorsports after their driving careers ended.
Dale Jarrett won 32 races, including three Daytona 500s, between 1984 and 2008.
Petty is the third member of NASCAR's most historic family to be enshrined, and the fourth member of the Petty Enterprises racing team. He is the son of two-time NASCAR champion Lee Petty and brother of seven-time champion Richard Petty. A cousin, Dale Inman, long-time crew chief for the Petty team, is also a Hall of Fame member.
Maurice Petty, nicknamed "Chief," is 74, a year younger than his iconic brother. He competed in 26 races as a driver in the early 1960s but turned to building engines and working on the pit crew for the Petty team.
Edmunds says: Roberts' nickname is coincidental as well as ironic: It came from his prowess as a baseball pitcher, and stuck with him when he began racing stock cars at age 18 in 1947.