Al Holbert

February 9, 2009 by  
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Al Holbert was born, Alvah Robert Holbert, on 11 November 1946 at Abington in Pennsylvania. This legendary American NASCAR driver, won the IMSA Camel GT series five times. Al Holbert’s father, Bob Holbert, was a racing car driver himself, and he ran a Volkswagen-Porsche dealership, out of Warrington, which is close to Philadelphia.

Al Holbert, during his studies as Lehigh University, worked for Roger Penske, where Mark Donohue started to influence him to drive. His very first victory was behind the wheel of a Porsche, in 1971. Holbert turned professional racing driver in 1974, and walked away with the IMSA title in 1976 and again in 1977, whilst driving a Chevrolet Monza. Holberts’ 19 career races, in the NASCAR series, was raced between the years of 1976 to 1979. He primarily drove for James Hylton during the nineteen races, in which Al Holbert had finished in the top ten, four times.

In 1983, Holbert took the Cam-Am championship title, together with the IMSA GTP title, whilst driving a March83G, powered by Porsche, as Porsche were not able to get the 956 ready for that year’s competition. In the 1984 Indianapolis 500, Holbert took fourth place. During the years 1987 to 1988, he led the Porsche Indy Car initiative. Holbert also took the 24 Hours of Le Mans title in the years 1983, in 1986, and again in 1987. He secured the 24 Hours of Daytona in the years 1986 and in 1987, and also won the 12 Hours of Sebring title in 1976 and again in the year 1981.

By this time, and with so many successes under his belt, Al Holbert headed up the Porsche North America’s Motorsports Division, and was also the racing team owner of Holbert Racing. Holbert had realized, in 1988, that the Porsche 962 had carried him through his early years of racing, and that they had become outdated with the new generation racing cars, like the Electramotive’s Nissan GTP racer and the Jaguar XJR-9. This inspired Holbert’s idea to produce an open top Porsche powered racing car, for the customer teams.

Al Holbert had visited the IMSA Columbus Ford Dealers 500 in Ohio, on 30 September 1988. Just after takeoff, Holberts’ plane started to develop engine problems. He was heading towards residential houses, but managed to steer his plane away, just before he crashed. Holbert did not survive the crash. His team was to be disbanded at the end of the racing season, and his race number, number 14, was to be retired by IMSA. Kevin Doran was recruited as the chief mechanic for Holbert Racing, an later became the team owner.

In 1993, tribute was paid to this brilliant driver, and competitor, who’s death left a gaping hole in the racing community, but also left behind a racing career that is still spoken about today. Alvah Robert “Al” Holbert was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, in 1993.

Dale Earnhardt Sr.

February 9, 2009 by  
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Dale Earnhardt Snr was one of the greatest NASCAR drivers, known for his aggressive style of driving. Known by numerous nicknames such as “The Intimidator”, “The Dominator”, “Big E” and “Ironhead”, Dale Earnhardt was one of the most popular drivers in NASCAR. Aside from his distinctive personality and driving ability, Earnhardt earned his place in autoracing history with his Winston Cup Series victories and as the winner of 7 championships.

Ralph Dale Earnhardt was born on 29 April 1951 in Kannapolis of North Carolina. Born into a family where his father, Ralph, was a top NASCAR short-track driver, it is little wonder that Dale became interested in the sport. Dale Earnhardt, Sr. debuted in the Winston Cup in the year 1975, and in his first race driving an Ed Negre, he passed the finish line in 22nd place. In 1979 Earnhardt joined Rod Osterlund Racing, and during his rookie season, he won Rookie of the Year after gaining four poles and several great finishes. 1980 was filled with success for Earnhardt and he clinched the Winston Cup championship. Earnhardt moved to Richard Childress Racing in 1981, and although he had a bad season in 1982, he came back with remarkable strength in 1983. He gained his second Winston Cup Championship in 1986. Earnhardt saw a grand victory in 1986, once again winning, by 288 points.

The 1990s were off to a good start when Earnhardt won the Winston Cup for the 4th time in his career. He repeated this victory again in 1991, 1993 and 1994 – a total of 7 Winston Cup championship wins. He suffered a grave accident in 1996 which led the NASCAR officials to mandate the “Earnhardt Bar”. Fortunately Dale Earnhardt survived, although he had several broken bones. In 1998 Earnhardt finally gained victory at the Daytona 500, a win he had been aiming for for some 20 years. Earnhardt excited the crowds in 2000 with two thrilling wins, neck-in-neck with Bobby Labonte.

Sadly Dale Earnhardt Sr. was involved in a terrible accident in the 2001 Daytona 500 and lost his life. The death of Dale Earnhardt led to much media speculation, extensive coverage and great public concern. Following his death, NASCAR placed greater emphasis on safety with better restraints, safer barriers, strict rules for vehicle inspection and the development of a roof escape system.

Dale Earnhardt Sr. received many awards in his lifetime for his exceptional role in NASCAR, and in 1998 was placed second in NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers. Earnhardt was named Most Popular NASCAR Driver of 2001 and was an inductee of the Motorsports Hall of Fame Of America in 2002. Recently, in 2006 he was also inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. His son Dale Earnhardt Jr. continues in his father’s footsteps as a successful driver. Earnhardt also left behind three other children, namely, Kelley King, Taylor and Kerry. Dale Earnhardt Snr was certainly a force to be reckoned with on the race track and will always be remembered for his grand achievements.

David Pearson

February 9, 2009 by  
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Born in 1934 in Whitney, South Carolina, David Gene Pearson was rated as one of the top two stock car drivers in the world. He competed for the title against Richard Petty – himself a notable and excellent driver. During the course of his career David Pearson came to be called the ‘Silver Fox’ – a glint of light pulsing on the raceway. He made his racing debut on the Grand National racing circuit in 1960, where he took the Rookie of the Year award that year. Right from the start it was obvious that he was at the top of his game and he won the 1966, 1968 and the 1969 NASCAR Championships. His stiffest competition came from Richard Petty and their continual duels for first place are most memorable.

David Pearson’s NASCAR Winston Cup driving career started in 1960 and ended in 1986. During those twenty-six years he managed to achieve every accomplishment possible. In the majority of his races he constantly fought Richard Petty for first place and the two had a number of firsts and seconds to their names. Pearson won the national championships three times in the short four year period that he ran for it. He raced a staggering total of 574 events and he won 105 of them. He also enjoyed 113 pole positions during his racing career. The most memorable battle between Pearson and Petty occurred at the 1976 Daytona 500 when the two collided into the wall after slamming against each other’s front fender. Petty’s car spun off the track and he was left to watch helplessly as Pearson’s car limped across the finish line to claim first place.

In additiona to his numerous victories, Pearson also managed to receive a number of awards. He took the ‘Most Popular Driver’ Award in 1979 and 1980. In 1990 he was inducted in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and in 1998 he was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers. He was also made a part of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1993. Pearson is one of only eight drivers to have won a Career Grand Slam in the history of NASCAR racing. Before retiring in 1986, Pearson built a family-run garage which incorporated his three sons in various roles and which won the Busch Grand National championship in 1986 and 1987. Unfortunately the team was disbanded in 1990 but most of his sons are still actively racing.

Peter Revson

February 9, 2009 by  
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Born in New York city, on 27 February 1939, Peter Jeffrey Revson, would grow up to be an extremely talented racing driver who was a familiar and successful presence at the Indianapolis 500 and in Formula One. Revson was no newcomer to money. His father, Martin, was a shareholder in Peter’s uncle, Charles Revson’s, multi billion dollar cosmetic company, Revlon. He attended the most exclusive schools and was heir to his father’s fortune that was estimated at over $1 billion.

Peter was seen as somewhat of a “Free Spirit” that did not need to work, and could have spent his life with freedom and ease. Yet his life revolved around speed and he had the most beautiful women at his side. One such a woman included Marjorie Wallace, 1973 Miss World.

He began his racing career in 1971, driving for McLaren, while he was attending Cornell University. Revson would be come the very first American driver to take home the Can-Am Championship. He also posted the fasted qualifying time, and finished second, in the same season, at the Indianapolis 500. From 1969 to 1973 Revson raced in the Indy 500 every year. Peter Revson was moved to the McLaren Formula One team in 1972, where he remained for two years. During his time with McLaren, He won the British Grand Prix and in 1973, he won the Canadian Grand Prix. In 1974, Revson moved over to Shadow.

At the South African Grand Prix in 1974, which was held in Johannesburg, Revson had a fatal accident in his practice run. His Shadow Ford DN3 suffered a suspension failure. Peter Revson was the second Revson killed in the industry. His brother, Douglas Revson lost his life in 1967, in Denmark. Peter and Douglas were laid to rest together, in the Ferncliff Cemetery, that is located in Hartsdale (New York). Tragically, the driver that replaced Revson, Tom Pryce, was also killed in the same Grand Prix, three years later.

In 1996, Peter Jeffrey Revson, took his place in the Motorsport Hall of Fame of America, where his name stands proudly, in the sports car category.

Ricky Rudd

February 9, 2009 by  
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Ricky Rudd is amongst NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers. Named stock car racing “Iron Man”, Ricky Rudd set a Cup-record of 788 straight races between 1981 and 2005. A very consistent NASCAR driver, Ricky Rudd is known for his top-standard of driving. Ricky Rudd has left an indelible mark on the history of NASCAR racing and remains a NASCAR icon.

Ricky Rudd was born in Chesapeake of Virginia, USA on 12 September 1956. From the young age of 8, Rudd had an interest in racing as he began competing in go-kart races. A talented performer behind the wheel, Ricky Rudd was the winner of the International Karting Federation National Championship in 1971. After participating in both karts and motocross races he advanced to NASCAR’s top series as a Winston Cup driver in the year 1975. Rudd’s first major NASCAR race took place in Rockingham where he came in 11th place after starting in 26th position. In 1977 he was given the title of NASCAR Rookie of the Year. He later joined his father’s NASCAR team. He gained numerous victories during the 1980s. In 1991 Ricky Rudd came in 2nd at the NASCAR Winston Cup. He followed this in 1992 by winning the International Race of Champions.

Ricky Rudd has many great achievements to his name. One of these was his win at the 1997 Brickyard 400 held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That same year he had his 500th consecutive start in the NASCAR Winston Cup. Rudd had wins at Pocono and Richmond in 2001 At the end of his 2002 season, Rudd became a part of Wood Brothers Racing. Between 1975 and 2003 Ricky Rudd had posted 23 wins, 191 Top-Five finishes and 361 Top-Ten finishes.

Ricky Rudd decided to take a break from NASCAR driving at the end of the 2005 season. He stood in from time to time for Tony Stewart in 2006, and made a come-back in 2007 before retiring from the sport. Rudd was amongst 2007’s inductees into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. A truly skilled, reliable and talented NASCAR driver, Ricky Rudd continues to support NASCAR from the sidelines.

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