What makes a racecar driver truly great? Winning championships and races comes to mind, but that isn’t everything and doesn’t tell the whole story about a driver’s career. In the early days of racing, there were only a handful of drivers that raced full time, so those who raced part time shouldn’t be counted out. A lot of time and sweat equity goes into maintaining a stock car for the track. Behind every great driver is a crew, whose team communication affects the driver and keeps the car running well and the driver winning races. The history of NASCAR features skillful champions with colorful personalities who served as great ambassadors for the sport. Here we present some of the greatest NASCAR drivers of all time.
During his 13-year career from 1953-1966, Jarrett won 50 races and two points championships. During a period of NASCAR racing that might be considered rough around the edges, he brought a touch of gentlemanly class to the sport. He retired and went on to become the first on-air personality for NASCAR.
Allison won 84 races and one points championship during his 27-year career from 1961-1988. He is one of the most popular drivers of all time, and during the 1971-1972 seasons, he won 10 races. His fight with Cale Yarborough launched NASCAR into the mainstream.
Waltrip raced for 28 years from 1972-2000, winning 84 races and three championships and went on to become a TV announcer on race days. He remains the only driver who could get under the thick skin of fellow race legend Dale Earnhardt.
Gordon had a spectacular 24-year career from 1992-2016 where he piled up 93 wins and four championships. He was successful in spreading NASCAR beyond the southern states and was a lightning rod within the sport for that reason. The old guard didn’t like the new direction of the sport.
Jimmie’s career began in 2001 and is still going strong today. He has won 83 races and seven championships. He won five straight points championships from 2006 to 2010, setting a record for consecutive wins. He saw no wins in 2018 for the first time ever.
Earnhardt was a legend in NASCAR and one of the most popular drivers of all time. He won 76 races and seven championships from 1975-2001. He died suddenly on the track during the 2001 Daytona 500, only increasing his popularity and legend.
From 1958 to 1992, “The King” Richard Petty piled up 200 wins and seven championships. He has the most all-time race wins and is tied with two others for championships. He holds the record for most Daytona 500 races won, with an incredible seven.