NASCAR Hall of Fame profile: Fireball Roberts
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On Wednesday, the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte will induct its 2014 class, including Tim Flock, Jack Ingram, Dale Jarrett, Maurice Petty and Fireball Roberts. The induction ceremony is scheduled to get underway at 7 p.m. ET and may be seen live on FOX Sports 1. Below, is the second in a series of Hall of Fame profiles, this one featuring Glen “Fireball” Roberts:
Fireball Roberts’ nickname of “Fireball” didn’t come from his prowess behind the wheel of a race car, instead he garnered that nickname during his baseball-playing days in an American Legion league. Even so, Roberts is most known for his accomplishments as a race car driver. These days, Mark Martin is viewed as, perhaps, the greatest driver never to win a NASCAR Cup-level title, but if one goes back to the early days of the sports, a case could be made for such a title going to Roberts.
Of course, Roberts never winning a championship at NASCAR’s top level could have a lot to do with the fact that he never raced a full season. Roberts did claim runner-up honors in 1950, though. He made 207 top-level starts in a 15-year span, dating from 1950 until his death in 1964 because of a crash in the World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Those 207 races produced 33 wins, including seven at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. He was the Daytona 500 winner in 1962 and claimed victory in the Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway in 1958 and 1963. In 1958, Roberts only competed in 10 of 51 races, but his six wins in those 51 races resulted in an 11th-place points finish that year.
Roberts also impacted NASCAR after his death. It was Roberts’ death that prompted NASCAR to mandate flame-retardant coveralls and the five-point safety harness and a special contoured driver’s seat, all still in use today.
Roberts was among those named to NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers list in 1998. He is a member of both the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
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