Hometown: Asheboro, N.C.
Championships: 2 (Xfinity 1983-84)
Xfinity Series Stats
Even as he competed in the inaugural years of the Xfinity Series during the 1980s, Sam Ard was considered a throwback to the sport’s earliest days, proudly proclaiming of his time in the sport: “I used to build my cars, haul ’em to the race track, race ’em, then haul ’em back home.” Although Ard competed in only three seasons, he proved to be a master of his time under NASCAR’s bright lights – helping to usher in one of the most respected and competitive racing series in the world. Ard finished championship runner-up in the inaugural 1982 season (winning four races) then convincingly answered with back-to-back season championships. Ard’s 10 wins in 1983 distinguishes him as one of only two drivers in the series history (also Kyle Busch) to win 10 or more in a single season. The following year Ard won eight more times before suffering a serious injury in the next to last race of the 1984 season and opted to retire from driving and focus instead on team ownership.
Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.
Premier Series Stats
At six feet, six inches tall, Buddy Baker was often called the “Gentle Giant,” however, the nickname “Leadfoot” was more apropos due to the blistering speeds he often achieved during his 33-year career. In 1980, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native won the Daytona 500 with an average race speed of 177.602 mph – a track record that still stands. In 1970, Baker became the first driver to eclipse the 200-mph mark on a closed course while testing at Talladega Superspeedway. Although he didn’t win at the 2.66-mile superspeedway in 1970, Baker won there four times throughout his stellar career. He won 19 wins in the premier series, including a victory in the 1970 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway where he lapped the rest of the field. He also won back-to-back World 600s at Charlotte in 1972-73. After retiring in 1992, Baker made a successful transition to the television booth as a commentator for The Nashville Network and CBS, and later as a radio co-host on Late Shift and Tradin’ Paint for SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. In 1998, Baker was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers.
Hometown: Bessemer, Ala.
Cup Series Stats
A member of NASCAR’s famed “Alabama Gang,” Bonnett proved every bit up to the task of keeping pace with friends Bobby and Donnie Allison and Red Farmer. He got his start in the sport working on Bobby Allison’s cars. His hard work would be rewarded with a chance to driver for the legendary Harry Hyde and Wood Brothers Racing teams. Bonnett scored the first of his 18 Cup wins at Richmond (Va.) Raceway in 1977, competing in only an abbreviated season. In fact, part of what makes Bonnett’s statistics so impressive is that he only competed in five fulltime season in a 20-year driving career. He claimed many high-profile victories, including back-to-back Coca-Cola 600s (1982-83), and wins at tracks such as Daytona, Talladega, Rockingham and North Wilkesboro. In between his racing duties, Bonnett was a popular choice to represent his sport in primetime. He appeared in the 1983 movie Stroker Ace and the 1990 film, Days of Thunder. And he did race television race commentary for CBS, TBS and TNN. Bonnett was killed in an incident during practice for the 1994 Daytona 500
Hometown: Hueytown, Ala.
Late Model Sportsman: 1969, 1970, 1971
Red Farmer’s career is one long series of immeasurable accolades. For instance, it’s entirely unknown just how many wins Farmer has. One thing is for sure: It’s a lot … somewhere north of 700. His passion for the sport is likewise immeasurable. After all, he continues to race, even after eclipsing 80 years of age. But the record books do have a few things that are black-and-white and proof positive about this member of the Alabama Gang. He collected three consecutive championships in NASCAR’s Late Model Sportsman division from 1969-71, long after he won the Modified title in 1956. Though he preferred racing in the Late Model Sportsman division, Farmer did run 36 premier series races, with a best finish of fourth (twice). In 1998, Farmer’s many successes – clearly too many to officially count – landed him on the list of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers.
Hometown: Daytona Beach, Fla.
Premier Series Owner Stats
A New England native, Ray Fox saw his first automobile race at the 2-mile board track at Rockingham Park near Salem, New Hampshire. Following service in the U.S. Army in World War II, Fox moved to Daytona Beach to work as a mechanic. Fox built the engine in the Buick driven by Fireball Roberts which led the 1955 Daytona Road & Beach Course wire-to-wire. Roberts, however, was disqualified after it was determined that the car’s mechanic, Red Vogt, had modified the pushrods. In 1956, Fox went to work for Carl Kiekhaefer whose Chrysler 300 cars won 22 of the season’s first 26 races. He was named Mechanic of the Year. In 1960, Fox built the Chevrolet in which Junior Johnson won the Daytona 500. David Pearson won three times that year driving Fox-built Pontiacs. In 1962, Fox became a car owner. He won nine times with Johnson and twice – including the 1964 Southern 500 – with Buck Baker. Over the years, five NASCAR Hall of Famers took the wheel for Fox, including Cale Yarborough and Fred Lorenzen. Fox retired in the early 1970s but in 1990 accepted the role of NASCAR’s engine inspector, a position he held until his second retirement at the age of 80 in 1996.
Hometown: Taylorsville, NC
Premier Series Stats
Harry Gant was a man with many nicknames: “Handsome Harry” for his good looks, the “Bandit” due his long-time sponsor Skoal Bandit, “Mr. September” after his four consecutive premier series and two Xfinity series wins in September of 1991 and “High Groove Harry” because of his proficiency in taking the high line through the corner. A humble man, he could wheel a race car darn well, too. Gant won 18 premier series races, including the Southern 500 in 1984 and 1991. The North Carolinian also registered 21 wins in the Xfinity Series. In the five seasons from 1981 through 1985, Gant finished in the top five in points four times, including a runner-up championship finish to Terry Labonte in 1984. Gant maintained his racing prowess into his 50s and holds the premier series records for oldest driver to win a race (52 years old) and pole (54). He drove the first race car with a telemetry system installed in it at Talladega in 1985 and relayed the data to CBS during its coverage of the event. Gant was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest drivers.
Hometown: Mocksville, N.C.
Premier Series Owner Stats
Competed: 1992-present (Stats as of 2017)
Joe Gibbs has won throughout his entire life. The three-time Super Bowl champion football coach, started Joe Gibbs Racing in 1992 and has led the organization to four premier series championships and five NASCAR Xfinity Series titles. Known as a master motivator, Gibbs’ 140 premier series owner wins rank third all-time. They include two Daytona 500 victories and five Brickyard 400 championships. His premier series titles have come with three different drivers: Bobby Labonte (2000), Tony Stewart (2002, ’05) and Kyle Busch (2016). Busch’s championship was the first one in the premier series for Toyota. In addition to the team’s four premier series champions, many accomplished drivers have taken the wheel for Gibbs, including Dale Jarrett, Terry Labonte, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Ricky Craven and Joey Logano. Referred to in NASCAR circles has simply “Coach,” Gibbs was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996.
Hometown: Nashville, TN
Championships: 2 (Premier - 1968, 1969)
Premier Series Owner Stats
John Holman was considered the mastermind salesman and business manager of the famed Holman-Moody ownership duo. His foresight for the business aspect of NASCAR paired with competition-minded Ralph Moody’s mechanical and racing insights formed the foundation of a formidable – and legendary – race team. Holman-Moody won back-to-back championships from 1968-69 with the “Silver Fox,” David Pearson. In those two seasons, Pearson combined for an incredible 27 victories. The duo also powered Mario Andretti to victory in the 1967 Daytona 500. Some of the sport’s most legendary figures piloted cars owned by Holman-Moody Racing, including NASCAR Hall of Famers Joe Weatherly, Fred Lorenzen, Fireball Roberts, Bobby Allison and Pearson. Overall, the Homan-Moody partnership earned 96 wins and 83 poles in 525 premier starts.
Hometown: Brownsville, Ky.
Premier Series Crew Chief Stats
Harry Hyde was so good, they made a movie about him. Hyde, who inspired Robert Duvall’s character Harry Hogge in the cinematic classic Days of Thunder, enjoyed a nearly three-decade career in NASCAR’s premier series. During that tenure, his incredible leadership skills translated to immense success – even to the greenest of drivers. Prior to guiding Dave Marcis, Neil Bonnett and Geoff Bodine to their first career wins and harnessing the talent of Tim Richmond, Hyde laid a championship foundation with NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Isaac. In 1969, Hyde called the shots for Isaac’s 17-win season, which ranks among the most prolific seasons in the history of the sport. That year, Isaac also won 19 poles, which still stands as a NASCAR premier series record. Hyde’s crowning achievement came in 1970, when he won the NASCAR premier series championship with Isaac, winning 11 times and capturing 32 top fives in 47 starts. Hyde was also named NASCAR Mechanic of the Year.
Hometown: Corpus Christi, TX
Championships: 2 (Premier - 2000, Xfinity - 1991)
Premier Series Stats
Competed: 1991, 1993-2016
The ultimate grinder, Bobby Labonte raced any car he could get behind the wheel of before he got his first break as a full-time premier series driver at 28 years old in 1993. His persistence paid off with a career highlighted by 21 trips to Victory Lane and the 2000 premier series title. A success in all three of NASCAR’s national series, Labonte was the first of four drivers to win both an Xfinity and premier series championship. He is also one of 27 drivers to win a race in all three national series. The Texan showed up on the biggest stages throughout his 2000 premier championship season, earning two of his four wins in the Brickyard 400 and Southern 500. He beat out second-place Dale Earnhardt by 255 points for the series crown. Bobby and his brother, Terry Labonte, are one of two pairs of brothers (Kurt and Kyle Busch), who each boast a premier series championship.
Hometown: Bridal Veil, Ore.
Pro Series West Stats
Hershel McGriff exhibited a competitive passion that lasted longer than any driver in NASCAR history. His first race was the 1950 Southern 500, in the NASCAR premier series’ sophomore season, at the age of 22. His final NASCAR race was at Sonoma Raceway in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West – in 2012 at the age of 84. In between: Greatness, and lots of it. McGriff competed in parts of 28 NASCAR premier series seasons, capturing four wins – all in 1954. But in what is now the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, McGriff displayed an excellence that made him one of the best in series history. Competing in parts of 35 seasons, McGriff won 37 races, good for third on the all-time West Series wins list. His signature year came in 1986 when he won the series title, part of a string of 10 consecutive seasons with finishes in the top 10 in championship points. In 1991, McGriff was the recipient of the Bill France Award of Excellence. He was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.
Hometown: Taunton, Mass.
Championships: 2 (Premier - 1968, 1969)
Premier Series Owner Stats
For Massachusetts native Ralph Moody, it all started with a Motel T Ford he built in 1935 and raced on nights and weekends. After driving a tank under the command of General George S. Patton in World War II, he moved to Florida in 1949 so he could race year-round. Moody won five NASCAR premier series races from 1956-57. The mechanically skilled Moody paired with business-minded John Holman to form Homan-Moody Racing in 1957, forming the foundation of a powerhouse NASCAR team. Holman-Moody competed from 1957-73 winning consecutive championships with David Pearson (1968-69) and taking the checkered flag with Mario Andretti at the 1967 Daytona 500. Some of the sport’s most legendary figures piloted cars owned by Holman-Moody Racing, including NASCAR Hall of Famers Joe Weatherly, Fred Lorenzen, Fireball Roberts, Bobby Allison and Pearson. Overall, the Homan-Moody partnership earned 96 wins and 83 poles in 525 premier starts.
Hometown: Oakland, Ca.
Cup Series Stats
Marvin Panch’s racing career reads like a NASCAR novel. The Californian was urged to come East and give NASCAR racing a try at the behest of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. and leader of the legendary Petty racing family, Lee Petty. Panch won his first NASCAR race from the pole position in 1956 at Montgomery (Ala.) Speedway for another legend in the sport, Pete DePaolo. Smokey Yunick gave him a ride in the 1961 Daytona 500 in a car a year older than most of the field. Panch answered with the Daytona 500 victory – a highlight of his career. He also turned in an amazing run for the Wood Brothers – winning eight times and earning 30 top-three finishes in only 69 starts between 1962 and early 1966. During that time, Panch was involved in a fiery crash in preparation for the 1963 Daytona 500. Fellow driver Tiny Lund pulled Panch out of the car and received the Carnegie Medal for Heroism for saving his friend. Days later, Lund drove Panch’s car to the Daytona 500 victory. Named to NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers list, Panch was also a first-ballot West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame inductee (2002).
Hometown: High Point, N.C.
Cup Series Stats
Jim Paschal holds a rare distinction in that he competed in the very first race in what is now the NASCAR Cup Series. Quickly and regularly, the North Carolina native became a force to be reckoned with – winning 25 races in a career that spanned more than two decades. All but two of his 25 victories came on short tracks. The two “big track” wins both icame n the Coca-Cola 600, including the 1967 race in which he led he led a dominating 335 of the 400 laps. That laps-led mark held nearly five decades - until 2016, when Martin Truex Jr. led 392 laps to win that race. Five times in his career Paschal led at least 300 laps in claiming a race victory. The most productive stretch of his career came in 1969-72 seasons when he won 16 of the 73 races he competed in – a 22 percent winning percentage. For the entirety of his career he averaged an impressive 11th place on short track venues. He boasts a remarkable statistic in finishing top-10 in more than 50 percent of the races he competed in – 230 of 421 races. Six times he won multiple races in a season and yet he never ran a full schedule in his 23-year NASCAR career.
Hometown: Springfield, Mo.
Weekly Series Stats
The legend of Missouri’s Larry Phillips cannot be measured in wins alone. That’s because nobody can say for sure how many victories there were. He raced here, there and everywhere on dirt and asphalt and in places where record keeping wasn’t always a priority. Phillips was just happy to vanquish the competition and go on to the next track. One crew chief, James Ince, estimated Phillips won 1,000 times; maybe 2,000. Rivals expressed frustration upon seeing Phillips’ No. 75 car come through the pit gate, admitting they were racing each other for second place. What is fact is that Phillips is the only driver to win five NASCAR Weekly Series national championships. During an 11-year span – from his first title in 1989 through 1996 – the Springfield, Mo. competitor won 220 of 289 NASCAR-sanctioned starts. That’s a winning percentage of 76 percent. Phillips also won 13 track championships in three states. Phillips was named one of the 25 top drivers in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series in 2006.
Hometown: Chesapeake, Va.
Premier Series Stats
Tough. As. Nails. There is no other way to describe Ricky Rudd. Known as NASCAR’s Ironman for more than a decade, the Virginia native held the premier series record for consecutive starts (788) before Jeff Gordon broke it in 2015. His 906 overall starts rank second in NASCAR history to Richard Petty’s 1,185. During his 32-year premier series career, Rudd posted 23 wins, 194 top fives, 374 top 10s (seventh all-time) and 29 poles. One of the few successful driver / owners in the modern era, Rudd won six races for his Rudd Performance Motorsports team he operated from 1994-99, including the 1997 Brickyard 400. Rudd, the 1977 premier series rookie of the year, earned a best points finish of second in 1991. He scored at least one win in 16 consecutive seasons (1983-98), which is tied for the third-longest streak in NASCAR premier series history. In 1998, Rudd was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers.
Hometown: Coventry, R.I.
NASCAR Whelen Modified Stats
At the very top of the list of all-time NASCAR championships sit two men: NASCAR Hall of Famer Richie Evans … and Mike Stefanik. Each tallied nine in their exemplary careers, with Stefanik’s coming in both the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. Seven of his titles came in his primary racing series – the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. In 2003, he was named one of the Tour’s 10 Greatest Drivers, an obvious choice if there ever was one – Stefanik holds the all-time series record in championships, wins, poles, top fives and top 10s. In 1997-98, Stefanik won back-to-back championships in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. That, along with a K&N Pro Series East win total that ties for ninth on the all-time list, earned him a spot on the Top 10 Drivers of the First 25 Years of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East list in 2011. In addition, Stefanik spent one full-time season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – and it was a successful one. He captured the Rookie of the Year Award in 1999.
Hometown: Columbus, IN
Championships - 3 (2002, 2005, 2011)
Cup Series Stats
Known as “The People’s Champion” for his blue-collar, hard-nosed style of competition, Stewart has proven to be a master of any type of race car he drives. He immediately showed that he would be a force to be reckoned with – earning three victories in his Rookie of the Year season. The titles soon followed. Stewart won his first Cup championship in 2002 driving for Joe Gibbs Racing and answered that quickly in 2005. His versatility was on display throughout his 17-year NASCAR career. He tallied 49 wins in the Cup Series – winning on every style of track. He won the prestigious Brickyard 400 at his beloved, home-state Indianapolis Motor Speedway twice. In 2009, Stewart became a team owner, partnering with Gene Haas. He won 16 times as a driver/owner including one of the most memorable championship pursuits in history. In 2011, he won five of the 10 Playoff races – including the season finale – to claim his third title by virtue of a tiebreaker over Carl Edwards. Stewart-Haas Racing has 51 wins, including the 2017 Daytona 500, and has added a second championship with Kevin Harvick in 2015.
Hometown: Washington D.C.
Not only was Red Vogt considered the first master mechanic in NASCAR, he was one of its organizing members. Vogt’s cars were well known throughout race tracks in the South in the 1940’s and led him to a successful partnership with NASCAR Hall of Famer car owner Raymond Parks. He was an instrumental member of the meeting at the Streamline Hotel in December 1947 that resulted in the creation of NASCAR. Once NASCAR was created, Parks and Vogt supplied the car that another Hall of Famer – Red Byron – drove to victory in the first ever race. The trio won that year’s championship (1948 modified) as well as the first championship in what is now the NASCAR Cup Series (1949). Many of NASCAR’s early racing stars such as Byron, Fonty Flock, Glenn “Fireball” Roberts, Curtis Turner and even NASCAR founder Bill France drove a Vogt-prepared car.
Hometown: Bakersville, N.C.
Premier Series Crew Chief Stats
Competed: 1979-88, 1990-93, 1995
A dual threat as an engine builder and crew chief, Waddell Wilson powered and guided cars to some of the biggest victories in NASCAR history. As an engine builder, he supplied the power that helped David Pearson (1968, ’69) and Benny Parsons (1973) to premier series titles. Overall, Wilson’s engines helped some of the greatest drivers to ever wheel a car – including NASCAR Hall of Famers Pearson, Fireball Roberts, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip – to 109 wins and 123 poles. He originally gained acclaim for building the engine Roberts used to win the 1963 Southern 500. Wilson guided three cars to Victory Lane in the Daytona 500 as a crew chief, winning The Great American Race with Buddy Baker (1980) and Cale Yarborough (1983-84). The famed “Grey Ghost” he assembled for Buddy Baker still holds the Daytona 500 record with an average speed of 177.602 MPH. Wilson directed his drivers to 22 wins and 32 poles as a crew chief. In 1982, Wilson built the first engine to help a premier series driver break 200 MPH when Benny Parsons turned a 200.176 MPH qualifying lap at Talladega for the Winston 500.
Hometown: Detroit, MI
There are few names as iconic in the sport of auto racing as Edsel Ford II. A member of the Ford Motor Company Board of Directors and longtime executive of the company founded by his great-grandfather Henry Ford, Edsel’s is a familiar face in the racing garage. Ford’s support of NASCAR has been both behind the scenes with the Ford Motor Company but also out in front where he is greeted warmly by the sport’s competitors, executives, team owners and fans at any race track he visits. He makes a point to check in regularly – in person – with all the NASCAR Ford teams and the excitement and commitment to the sport is palpable. His leadership at Ford includes time as President and Chief Operating Officer (May, 1991-1998) and a Director of International Speedway Corporation (November, 2007-October, 2015). Ford has been a viable and very public supporter of the sport of auto racing as counts one of his proudest moments as being on the Voting Panel for the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Hometown: Spartanburg, S.C.
As Bill France Sr. began the daunting task of building the foundation of NASCAR, Alvin Hawkins was there as a foremost advisor. Hawkins, NASCAR’s first flagman, attended the momentous 1947 meeting at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach, Florida, that signaled the start of what would become the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. Later, France and Hawkins established NASCAR racing at Bowman Gray Stadium. The Hawkins family continues to operate the quarter-mile track, one that is an institution in the sport and a crown jewel for short track racers throughout the country. In 2015, Bowman Gray Stadium celebrated its 1,000th NASCAR race. Through the years, the Stadium has hosted a variety of NASCAR series, including the premier series from 1958-71. Its premier series winners list includes NASCAR Hall of Famers Lee Petty, Rex White, Glen Wood, Richard Petty, Junior Johnson, David Pearson and Bobby Allison.
Hometown: Bristol, Va.
Mike Helton is easily one of the most familiar faces and names in the NASCAR community. The first person outside the France family to be named NASCAR President (in 2000), he started his leadership career with the sport back in 1980 and now serves as Vice Chairman of NASCAR. His nearly five-decade long career in the sport has been spent in a variety of jobs. He was a track operator at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, and even raced a little himself, before joining NASCAR. During his time as President, Helton cemented NASCAR’s presence in major markets both within the United States, as well as Mexico, Canada and Europe. His hard work on the competition side of the sport included a push to increase safety standards – something NASCAR took the lead on and continues to revolutionize today. His influence is also seen in the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, N.C. – the first such facility owned and operated by a racing sanctioning body. Helton currently serves as a member of the NASCAR Board of Directors as well as the Board of Directors for The NASCAR Foundation.
Hometown: Pocono, Pa.
One of the most universally revered members of the sport of auto racing, Dr. Joseph (Doc) Mattioli founded Pocono Raceway in 1968 in the lush and scenic Pocono Mountains. Doc, a dentist and World War II veteran, and his wife Rose, a podiatrist, purchased property in the area and were approached about building a race track on site – something that intrigued the couple even though they had never been to a race. The rest is history – as they. The 2.5-mile triangular-shaped track has hosted all of America’s top racing series but has been a particularly prime stop on the NASCAR schedule. It was designed by two-time Indy 500 winner Rodger Ward and each of the three turns is completely different – each modeled off another track. Some of NASCAR’s biggest heroes own Pocono trophies, including all three seven-time champions (Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson). In all, 13 NASCAR Hall of Famers have a Pocono Cup Series win. Unique to the facility is solar energy “farm” set on dozens of acres surrounding the track making it the largest solar-powered sports facility in the world.
Hometown: Winston-Salem, N.C.
Ralph Seagraves’ life – and NASCAR’s world – changed the moment he met NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson. In the late 1960s, Seagraves, an official with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, had been searching for a means to market cigarettes after the federal government banned RJR’s products from advertising on television and radio. Johnson, ever the entrepreneur, had an idea. How about RJR sponsor his cars? Seagraves had a bigger idea: Why not sponsor NASCAR’s top series? And so, in 1971, for the first time since its inception in 1949, NASCAR’s premier series had major corporate backing. The NASCAR Winston Cup Series was born. The partnership helped NASCAR launch into the national spotlight, and created a bedrock of stability for the next three decades. RJR’s Winston brand sponsored NASCAR’s top series for more than 30 years, ending in 2003. Under Seagraves leadership, RJR helped a number of race track operators refurbish their facilities, many of which were short tracks that ran developmental NASCAR Winston Racing Series races. He retired from R.J. Reynolds in 1986.
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