NASCAR WCUP: Behind the Scenes: Dale Inman Guides Drivers to Victory Lane
25 April 2000
Posted By Terry
MOORESVILLE, N.C.-- Behind the achievements of every
great race car driver is one significant player -- the crew chief.
Motorsports Editor, The Auto Channel
Within the racing community, Dale Inman is one of the most respected men in the garage. The legendary crew chief will receive the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame's first Golden Wrench award for his contributions to the sport, Thursday, May 25, 2000, at the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center.
Born August 19, 1936, in Level Cross, N.C., Inman is part of racing's most famous family -- the Pettys. With cousin Richard, a young Inman spent endless hours at the race track watching his uncle, Lee Petty, dominate the racing scene. As teenagers, the two traveled from track to track, lending a hand when needed.
In 1958, Inman was by his cousin's side when he got behind the wheel for his first professional race. To help out, Inman changed tires, refueled the car, and cleaned the windshield. It wasn't until 1963, however, that Inman decided to make racing his career. That year, he took home his first paycheck from Petty Enterprises. With no specific job title, Inman did whatever was needed to bring home a victory -- from turning wrenches to motivating the team. The next year, Richard Petty captured his first series championship.
The duo went on to win a record six more championships through the next 22 years. Somewhere along the way, Inman earned the title crew chief.
"Dale was a racing benchmark," Petty said. "He was the sport's first official crew chief and people modeled themselves after him. He knew what, when and where -- and when he made a mistake he wasn't afraid to admit it. Everyone respected him for that. Nobody even comes close to the number of wins that Dale has recorded."
After Petty won his seventh Daytona 500 in 1981, Inman surprised everyone by resigning from Petty Enterprises. He went to Rod Osterlund's team that was fielding cars for 1980 NASCAR Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt. In 1983, Inman moved to Billy Hagen's racing team where Terry Labonte was behind the wheel. One year later, Inman guided Labonte to his first NASCAR Winston Cup championship.
In 1986, after five years of wearing a different uniform and working in another pit, Inman returned to his roots at Petty Enterprises. He again joined forces with his cousin and he stayed with Petty until he retired in 1992. In the end, Inman was behind 180 of Petty's 200 Winston Cup victories. Following Petty's retirement, Inman worked with drivers Rick Wilson, John Andretti, and Bobby Hamilton. He officially retired from the racing scene in 1998.
Today, a 63-year-old Inman serves as a consultant to Petty Enterprises and occasionally makes trips to the track. He spends most days working around his North Carolina home with his wife of more than 40 years, Mary. They have two children, Tina Dale Hussy and Jeffrey Inman, as well as two grandchildren, Taylor and Logan Hussy.
A nonprofit museum, the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame is dedicated to all types of racing -- from drag racing to NASCAR. It houses more than 35 cars as well as numerous displays and showcases. Past inductees into the museum's Hall of Fame include Tim Flock (1999), Bobby Allison (1998), and Richard Petty (1997). For more information about the museum, log on to its web site at www.ncarhof.com.
Text provided by Erin Dominianni