September 14th, 1952. Two time NASCAR Champion Herb Thomas takes the green flag at Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania to kick off the 27th race of the season. Fonty Flock is able to grab the lead from Herb before the first lap is even completed at the treacherous one mile dirt track. Larry Mann rolls off the grid in 37th spot looking to move up through the pack. He didn't believe in the NASCAR superstition that green cars are bad luck. His #43 Hudson Hornet was painted all green and he nicknamed it the Green Hornet.
Fast forward 200 plus laps to Bill Blair leading with just 40 to go. He tries to keep his Oldsmobile ahead of the hard charging but smooth Lee Petty. Despite his effort, he loses the lead to the Petty patriarch on lap 210. One lap later, Larry Mann is trying to hold on to a spot inside the top 20. He ends up through the fence and flipping end over end. That day, NASCAR lost it's first Cup driver in 22 year old Yonkers, New York Native, Larry Mann.
We all know the names Earnhardt, Kulwicki, D. Allison and Fireball Roberts. How many of you reading this know the names Russell Phillips, J.D McDuffie, Bobby Myers, Ricky Knotts or Rodney Orr? They have been forgotten by most of us through the years. Dale Sr. is in the HOF and those other 3 I named after him probably will be too. What about those other guys? They may not have been the greatest or even got a top 10 finish but they gave their life for this sport. Shouldn't they be recognized as well for losing their lives?
I'm not saying induct them into the NASCAR HOF, but recognize them. Make sure people remember them. How about a wall in the Hall completly dedicated to all those who died racing in NASCAR or in a plane going to a race. Not just the drivers either. What about the crew men and offcials that have died? Like Richard Petty's brother-in-law, Randy Owens who was killed in a freak accident at Talladega in 1975 crewing for Richard.
A lot of people have given their life working/racing in NASCAR and the HOF should honor them. They don't need to spend thousands of dollars, just do something like the Vietnam War Memorial with just a name and maybe how the person was involved in NASCAR. I bet very few if any of you know who Carlos Pardo is. The 34 year old was one of the greatest NASCAR Mexican Corona Series drivers of all time and he was tragically killed battling for the win in 2009, the most recent death in NASCAR.
The HOF can bring these people back into our minds so that they will never be forgotten. They are doing it with Ricthie Evans right now. A lot of people today didn't know who he was and now we all know the 9 time Modified Champion. All I ask is to remember not just the ones who were great on the track, but the others who died and have faded from our memories.
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