Richard Petty inducts brother Maurice.
Concord, NC Jan. 20,2007 8:00pm Eastern:Article by Jeff Kluss/Sports Image
Once again the NMPA’s came off without a hitch. The National Motorsports Press Association put together a wonderful event thtat started with a social hour that was more of a comedy hour listening to all the war stories from all the greats and near greats. Everyone from Humpy Wheeler, Harry Gant, Ned Jarrett, Mike Helton, Junior Johnson, of course Jack Ingram, and a host of others were present.
Harry Gant and Jack Ingram at NMPA
Richard Petty started the after dinner festivities by introducing his brother Maurice at the inductions this past Saturday night. Richard, “When the chips were down Maurice pulled us through. But we backed each other up. He took over one part of the team operations and I took over the other. It was natural to me to race, but the mechanical part was natural for Maurice”
“When NASCAR turned us loose with the Hemi, Maurice really turned it on. When you look at what he accomplished as an engine builder, you have to look for second place because he was so far ahead. Over time it is evident that racing is such a team sport with the Crew Chief’s part, the engine builder’s part, and everyone else involved. I recognize that my brother was the very best engine builder in racing. He helped us in building our team and getting those seven championships.”
At that time Maurice was given the microphone by his brother Richard and began with “I happened along at the right time in racing and had a great time. But now I’m enjoying my grand-kids and retirement. I just want to say how much I do appreciate this honor.”
Richard Petty, Maurice Petty, and Dale Inman
After Maurice’s few short words for acceptance it was then turned over to Junior Johnson to induct Barney Hall. Junior started with “I’m not really sure if I’m supposed to be talking about Barney.”
At that moment Junior began telling a story that I have got to relate to our readers and began, “Well some years back Barney was talking with me and I was telling him about these grass carp that I had just stocked in a couple of my ponds on the farm since they were getting so overgrown. I told Barney how they had done such a fine job on clearing out the grass and brought my ponds back to life. I also told him how they weren’t legal in North Carolina. Well Barney told me to get him some of them carp since he was having the same problem with his pond. So I sent him some and he put them in his pond. Well a few weeks later Barney was watching this Whooping Crane eat some of them carp he had and got real upset over it. He told his wife to bring out his shotgun since he wasn’t going to have any Whooping Crane eat his fish. Well out goes Barney with his shotgun to take care of that bird. As we all know, Whooping Cranes are an endangered species and folks don’t take kindly to seeing them killed. Well Barney takes a shot at that bird, and along comes the Game Warden driving up. The Game Warden asks Barney what he’s doing. Barney replies, “Trying to shoot that Whooping Crane that is trying to eat my grass carp.” Of course the Game Warden didn’t take too kindly to ole Barney shooting at the Whooping Crane, much less the illegal grass carp in his pond to boot. As it turned out, Barney and the Game Warden were pretty good friends and it didn’t come down to him going to jail, but it sure was tense for a minute and Barney got to keep his carp.”
Junior continued by saying, “Barney has always been a great racing announcer and one thing you could always count on is that if Barney said it was so, it was good as gold. I don’t think you will ever see a better person, my friend Barney Hall.”
At that time Barney takes the podium by stating, “ It is such a great honor to be inducted into the NMPA Hall of Fame. But it sure looks like I’m going to now be known for the man that had the illegal carp. Of course it sure is great being inducted by Junior since we go back a lot of years and are great friends as well.”
Barney went on to relate the following about Richard and Maurice Petty. “We were at Atlanta back in the 60’s and it just so happened that the Georgia Peanut Growers Association was one of the race sponsors. It was my good fortune to give away a 200 pound sack of peanuts to the winning team and I was to announce it and interview the winning driver. It just so happened to be Richard Petty that won the race and just as I was interviewing Richard over the track public address system Maurice could be heard in the background saying to Richard, “What the hell are we going to do with this big sack of peanuts. You can take these damn things home with you.”. Well needless to say, the Georgia Peanut Growers Association did not ever offer the Pettys any more peanuts again.
After a brief pause for the laughter, Barney went on to relate how it was his great fortune to have been hired by Bill France, Sr. back in 1958 to be part of MRN and he has not regretted one day of it since. “It has been my privilege to work with the likes of Fireball Roberts, Buck Baker, and many other NASCAR greats which is something that you will remember your whole life. I’ve worked with many great folks in my career but most recently one of the best ever that I enjoyed more than the rest was Benny Parsons. I owe so much to so many in this group that have gotten me to where I am. Richard Petty was the first that made me feel as if I belong to this great group in NASCAR. Any time that I needed an interview to put on the air, Richard was always available to me. Course any time that I put a microphone in front of his brother Maurice he would always say, “Naw I ain’t got the time, I’m too busy.” Then I would interview Dale Inman who was the first crew chief that was known well in NASCAR since the driver’s were always the stars before Dale arrived.”
Barney Hall went on to recognize the crew of folks that he works with including Alan Bestwick and Eli Gold amongst others. “And thank you to the NMPA for this special night. I never dreamed I would ever be inducted into the Hall of Fame and it is truly an honor. It has been a long hard ride, and most of all I would like to thank my wife.”
Barney Hall and Maurice Petty Class of ’07