William Caleb Yarborough, was born in South Carolina on 27 March 1939. This legendary figure is a former NASCAR driver and owner in the Winston Cup Series and a businessman. Cale Yarborough is one of the only two NASCAR drivers to win three championships consecutively. His face has also been seen on the cover of the popular magazine, Sports Illustrated.
On NASCAR’s all winner’s list, the name Cale Yarborough appears at number five, due to his 83 wins. But his achievements do not end there. Yarborough won the Daytona 500 in the years 1968, 1977, 1983 and again in 1984. He also became the first NASCAR driver, in 1984, to qualify with a top speed of over 200 miles per hour, for the Daytona 500.
Many mistakenly believed that Cale Yarborough was related to LeeRoy Yarbrough, another NASCAR veteran driver. The truth is, that Cale Yarborough was the son of a tobacco farmer. He attended his first race, without a ticket, as a young boy. It was the Southern 500, and the year was 1950. He was so desperate to drive, that he even lied about his age, which NASCAR picked up and promptly disqualified him. Yarborough returned to the Southern 500 in 1957, and made his debut driving for Bob Weatherly. He was behind the wheel of the #30 Pontiac, and after suffering complications with the car’s hubs, he worked himself two places up from his 44th starting position, to finish 42nd. The Southern States Fairground in 1960, was the race in which he secured his first top fifteen place and at the Daytona 500 Qualifying Race, in 1962, he finished in the top ten.
Cale Yarborough signed on with Herman Beam in 1963, to drive his #19 Ford, and at Savannah and Myrtle Beach, he finished both races in fifth place. He started the following season with Herman Beam, but finished the season with Holman Moody. Yarborough drove for a few owners, and ended up with Banjo Matthews in the beginning of the 1966 season. He finished in second place, twice, consecutively but left the team to join the Wood Brothers, driving their #21 Ford. Due to Yarborough only driving in 17 races, he was placed 20th in the standings, even though he won the Firecracker 400 and the Atlanta 500. He also went on to win the Daytona 500 for the Wood Brothers and the Firecracker 400. He ended the season with a total of six wins. This moved him up in the standings, to 17th position. In 1980, Yarborough secured fourteen pole positions, winning six races and lost, by nineteen points, to Dale Earnhardt, who took the championship. Darrell Waltrip replaced Cale Yarborough at the end of the racing season. Yarborough then announced that he would only run part time, which he did for the rest of his career.
He won many more races, and brought home the win for various teams, ending his career while racing for Harry Ranier. Hardee’s had offered to sponsor Yarborough as a driver and owner of #29. He raced his final season in 1988, after which he retired. To add to his interesting career, Cale played himself in two TV episodes of The Dukes of Hazard. The episodes were called “Cale Yarborough comes to Hazard” in 1984 and “The Dukes meet Cale Yarborough” which aired in 1979. He also starred in the movie Stoker Ace, with Burt Reynolds, in 1983. Cale Yarborough is a legendary driver that has had a wonderful career, and made colorful memories to remember him by. He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1993.