Is a driver with three Daytona 500s among his 84 victories more important to NASCAR history than someone who won 84 races and three championships?
Does a decorated war hero with four titles to his credit outrank a seven-time champion crew chief?
These are the sorts of questions created by the election of the second class for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Although impossible to answer, the questions themselves are just as important as the people who will be enshrined. If there is no debate, then there must be no passion, and without passion there is no sport.
Look at the class: David Pearson, second on the all-time win list and a driver some would rank as the all-time best ever; Lee Petty, the patriarch of the historically most famous team in racing and winner of the inaugural Daytona 500; Bobby Allison, third on the win list, a three-time 500 winner and ambassador for the sport; Ned Jarrett, whose 50 victories and interest in becoming well spoken served him long after his driving days were done; and Bud Moore, who won a championship as a crew chief and three more as an owner, two in his second and third years of fielding a Grand National team.
You're going to argue against any of them as Hall of Famers? Gosh, I'd hope not.
There can, should and forever will be disagreement, though, about who else should have got in when the ballots were cast and the selections announced Wednesday.
Darrell Waltrip has 84 victories, the same number with which Allison is credited, and Cale Yarborough has just one fewer while Waltrip and Yarborough each have three titles to Allison's one.
Allison's barnstorming became an unofficial NASCAR outreach program, particularly in the Upper Midwest. Was that the difference? Did the television version of Waltrip "boogity, boogity, boogity" him right out of the 2012 class and into '13? Did staying away in his later years hurt Yarborough's stock?
Who knows, and it doesn't matter. Both are the same sort of locks for next year as Pearson was this time around.
Beyond them, though, the decisions become difficult again.
Dale Inman was the third leg supporting Petty Enterprises, after Lee and first-class Hall inductee Richard Petty, and he practically invented the job of crew chief. Inman's a likely choice.
But what about the earliest pioneers? Red Byron was the first champion. Raymond Parks was Byron's car owner and one of NASCAR's founders. Parks died in July at age 96, and you have to wonder, would he have been chosen Wednesday if he were still alive?
And what about the characters, Curtis Turner and Joe Weatherly ? Or Fireball, Smokey, Tiny and the Woods from Stuart, Va.?
What about Wendell Scott, who won a race and gained some level of acceptance as an African-American in a totally white sport?
No question they all belong. But at five people per year, some will take longer than others and most will involve some sort of debate.
That's a good thing.
"Tim Richmond: To the Limit" doesn't break any new ground about the NASCAR antihero of the 1980s, but given this week's discussion of history and the fans' cries for a return to the good ol' days, it couldn't come at a better time.
Richmond was a pampered rich kid with an insatiable taste for the wild side, a not-from-around-here style and as much natural talent as any driver of his generation. The on- and off-track footage and interviews in this ESPN documentary provide a tremendous reintroduction -- or introduction for the under-40 set -- to what a charismatic character and a respected racer he was.
The film, scheduled to air at 7 p.m. CDT on Tuesday on ESPN, is also a study in irony.
Richmond's final two tremendously popular victories came in the midst of the international AIDS scare and in the heat of his secret, losing battle with the condition. Nowadays, 21 years after Richmond died, a test would have detected HIV much earlier. He couldn't have raced. But he might have lived.
Two to try
Kelsey Bauer of Elkhart Lake, Wis., and Troy Rave of Westby, Wis., are among the drivers invited to participate Monday and Tuesday in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine.
"Even if I don't get chosen, I can come back and say, 'This is what I have to change for next year,' and keep moving forward if I don't make it," said Bauer, 21, a UW-Milwaukee engineering student.
Bauer, a karting champion, has raced primarily in the late-model division at Columbus 151 Speedway. Rave moved from sportsman cars to late models this year at the La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway in West Salem and raced few other tracks with the Big 8 Series.
"Everything from here on rides on D for D for me," said Rave, 22, who is of American Indian descent. "If I don't make it in, I'm not sure what I'm going to do next year. I want to go on to bigger and better things."
The combine, at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va., involves 35 drivers from the ages of 16-25 trying to land 10 spots in development series with Revolution Racing. Rebecca Kasten of Mequon earned a ride for 2010 and will return to the combine, as well.
According to updates posted on Facebook by his mother, USAC racer Shane Hmiel, who suffered life-threatening injuries in a crash last week, was "awake on and off" Wednesday. He is scheduled for a third surgery Friday, this one to repair a torn artery.