Dale Inman, whose strategic genius and painstaking attention to detail helped Richard Petty win nearly 200 NASCAR Cup races and seven championships, received the 2009 NASCAR Buddy Shuman Award during NASCAR’s Sprint Cup awards ceremonies in Las Vegas.
Presented for 52 consecutive years by Federal-Mogul Corporation’s Champion Spark Plug brand, the Shuman Award honors individuals who have played vital roles in ensuring the continued growth and popularity of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing.
Inman, first cousin of Richard Petty, got his start in racing as an unofficial crew member for his uncle, Lee Petty, who won several early NASCAR championships. Inman next was a founding member of Richard Petty’s stock car team in the late 1950s and crew chief when Petty won his first NASCAR Grand National race in 1960. Over the next three decades, the pair claimed 198 Cup victories along with season titles in 1964, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1979. In their record-setting 1967 season, Petty and Inman won an astounding 27 races, including 10 straight. In addition to his success with his cousin, Inman also won the 1984 Cup championship as crew chief for Terry Labonte. He returned to Petty Enterprises in a management position in 1986 and retired from full-time involvement in 1998.
Inman has received an array of racing awards, including the Golden Wrench Award from the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame and the NASCAR Smokey Yunick Award. Many NASCAR insiders consider him the finest crew chief of all time, but the always-modest North Carolina native insists his extraordinary success was simply a case of having racing “in my blood.”
“Dale Inman has been a champion both on and off the track. His racing achievements are almost too many to comprehend, yet he has also shared his skill, hard work and good name with organizations that make a positive difference in the lives of the less fortunate,” said Michael Proud, director of marketing, North America, Federal-Mogul.
Following his retirement, Inman played a central role in helping the Petty family launch the Victory Junction Gang Camp, which enriches the lives of children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses. He and his wife, Mary, have been married for more than 40 years and have two children and two grandchildren.
One of NASCAR’s most enduring and prestigious awards, the Buddy Shuman Award was established in memory of Louis Grier “Buddy” Shuman, a pioneer NASCAR Grand National driver and chief technical inspector. Shuman was killed in a hotel fire in 1955. NASCAR established the award two years later and it has been sponsored [presented implies that champion is an entity] every year by Champion, the “Performance Driven” brand of spark plugs.
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