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NASCAR honors its 50 greatest drivers

Go To "Real Top 50" 2007 Update!

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 13, 1998)
NASCAR's 50-year history can be told from many different perspectives -- track history, promoter history or manufacturer history. But the one that adds the color and drama, and ignites our imaginations, is NASCAR history seen through the eyes of those who made it on the track.

As part of its 50th Anniversary celebration, NASCAR is honoring its past and present by naming its 50 greatest drivers. This list is a "Who's Who" of the greatest talent to ever strap themselves into race cars at NASCAR-sanctioned events.

From the dirt ovals that hosted NASCAR's early races to the modern speedways of today, the list of the 50 greatest drivers begins with NASCAR's first champion Red Byron to 11 active drivers of today. The 50 drivers are not only from the NASCAR Winston Cup Series as it includes Modified champions like Richie Evans as well as division champions like Ralph Earnhardt, Jack Ingram and Hershel McGriff.

Twenty-two of these drivers have won at least one NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship and 13 have won more than one. Enhancing the sports long tradition of family, there are five father-son combinations among the 50. The drivers were introduced this evening at Daytona USA, the "Ultimate Motorsports Attraction," on the grounds of
Daytona International Speedway.

"These are the men who define the competition of our sport," said Bill France, president of NASCAR. "Their accomplishments are the benchmark that much of our history is identified by. Honoring them in this way, at the beginning of the NASCAR 50th Anniversary celebration, is one way of showing our true appreciation for them and the invaluable contribution they have given over the past 50 years. These are the drivers who made and make NASCAR fans stand on their feet and cheer. These are the drivers who are NASCAR history."

An independent group of 50 individuals -- drivers, team owners, crew chiefs, media members, track operators and others -- participated in selecting the 50 greatest NASCAR drivers of all time. The voters were asked to give their objective and educated opinions on drivers from all NASCAR years, series and divisions.

The chosen group of drivers will be the backbone to many NASCAR 50th Anniversary projects throughout the year, including television, online, publications and other special projects.

A key element of the tribute is the unveiling of a limited edition lithograph produced by PRESS PASS. The signed lithographs will be sold for $25,000 each, and are projected to raise $1,000,000 for charity. All contributions will be made in the names of all 50 drivers to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Special Olympics, Leukemia Society, Speedway Children's Charities and Give Kids the World.

Tonight one of the 250 lithographs produced, which are signed by each of the 34 living members of the 50 greatest drivers, will be auctioned with a starting price of $25,000. Proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Foundation Fighting Blindness in memory of T. Wayne Robertson, the president of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company's Sports Marketing Enterprises, who lost his life Jan. 14 in a boating accident.

In addition, PRESS PASS has introduced a "retro" line of trading cards that will be a part of the company's 1998 PRESS PASS Race Cards race brand, a 150-card collection. The "retro" cards represent the 50 greatest NASCAR drivers and will be packaged with a single card in every two packs. The cards will feature a "retro" 2x3 size, uv coating and feature a foil stamping.

The 34 living members of this select group will also be honored Feb. 15 during pre-race festivities for the 1998 Daytona 500 at
Daytona International Speedway.

According to NASCAR, The following are the 50 greatest NASCAR drivers of all time: (alpha order)

 Bobby Allison        

 *Davey Allison           

 Buddy Baker          

 *Buck Baker              

 Geoff Bodine

 *Neil Bonnett           

 *Red Byron                 

 Jerry Cook             

 *Dale Earnhardt       

 *Ralph Earnhardt

  Bill Elliott                

 *Richie Evans            

 Red Farmer              

 *Tim Flock                 

 A.J. Foyt

 Harry Gant                 

 Jeff Gordon         

 *Ray Hendrick        

 Jack Ingram             

 *Bobby Isaac             

 Ernie Irvan                 

 Dale Jarrett               

 Ned Jarrett               

 Junior Johnson        

 *Alan Kulwicki

 Terry Labonte         

 Fred Lorenzen         

 *Tiny Lund                

 Mark Martin              

 Hershel McGriff

 Cotton Owens 

 Marvin Panch           

 *Benny Parsons                    

 David Pearson           

 Richard Petty

 *Lee Petty                  

 *Tim Richmond       

 *Fireball Roberts       

 Ricky Rudd            

 *Marshall Teague

 *Herb Thomas          

 *Curtis Turner            

 Rusty Wallace

 Darrell Waltrip

 *Joe Weatherly

 *Bob Welborn            

 Rex White                 

 Glen Wood              

 Cale Yarborough     

 *LeeRoy Yarbrough

* Deceased

Also see this story on the "Top 50" :    

Go To "Real Top 50" 2007 Update!

See More of the Drivers Above @ Legends of Nascar.com


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