Once the NASCAR Hall of Fame opened in Charlotte, it immediately became the biggest and best hall of fame stock car racing had to offer -- complete with a museum that is interactive, bright, shiny and fan-friendly.
The inaugural Class of 2010 was so exclusive it inexplicably excluded David Pearson, prompting NASCAR's winningest driver, Richard Petty, to wonder aloud how in the world someone like Pearson could be snubbed.
Pearson made it in the next year but Darrell Waltrip didn't, and ol' D.W. was so distraught the color left his face and he was visibly shaken. He'd have to wait 12 more months to get the call.
Although it's still an infant among halls of fame, this is a big deal, folks -- the biggest deal of all for those affiliated with the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing.
Sadly, its success has shoved its predecessor so far in the background some people might not even realize it still exists.
The International Motorsports Hall of Fame, located in Talladega, Ala., enshrined its inaugural class in 1990. There were 20 legends from all motorsports disciplines making up the first group, and the event was so big the announcement of the nominees was telecast live.
The ceremony itself was a black-tie affair held in Birmingham, and the event was hailed as the christening of the "Cooperstown of Motorsports."
When nominees for the IMHoF Class of 2012 were announced earlier this month, very little was made of it. The announcement itself came via a press release from Talladega Superspeedway, and never made the national wire services,
Even before the NASCAR Hall of Fame was founded, the IMHoF seemed to become less and less relevant with each passing year. And no one seems to know why.
The inaugural IMHoF class featured Bill France Sr., Buck Baker, Jack Brabham, Sir Malcolm Campbell, Jim Clark, Mark Donohue, Juan Manuel Fangio, Dan Gurney, Graham Hill, Tony Hulman, Junior Johnson, Parnelli Jones, Stirling Moss, Barney Oldfield, Lee Petty, Fireball Roberts, Jackie Stewart, Mickey Thompson, Bobby Unser and Smokey Yunick.
(Petty and Pearson were ineligible because rules stipulated a driver had to have been fully retired for at least five years to be considered for induction.)
The class had plenty of familiar names, but some of the international inductees like Fangio and Campbell might've left NASCAR-centric fans with puzzled looks.
The hall is a who's who of big names in the sport of speed, and even includes pioneers such as Wendell Scott and Louise Smith.
Yet its desire to stand alongside the great sports halls of fame has just never materialized, through no fault of its own.
The museum part of the IMHoF has a great display of racing memorabilia, and it remains a popular stopover during race weekends at Talladega.
Unfortunately, when race fans think of the hall of fame now, they only think of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
And that's a shame -- especially since the idea for the IMHoF originated with Bill France Sr.