Richard Petty may be "The King," but Terry Labonte's 'stache was regal.
As a facial hair aficionado, I've grown and styled my own mustache more times than I can count. Therefore, with the mustaches that have graced NASCAR over the years, I could tell you which bouts of facial hair were truly amazing and which mustaches were plain ridiculous.
Some of the mustaches you are about to see became as much a part of the driver's image as the driver's skill. Some mustaches just fell off of the face of the planet after making a statement. But the great thing is, we still remember them.
The upcoming mustaches were judged with factors such as texture, length and style taken into consideration. With that being said, maybe some of these fellows could consider jumping on the mustache bandwagon and bringing back their own 'stache.
Mustache Rating: Hilarious
Long before Jeff Gordon began to turn gray, long before he briefly sported a goatee and a shaved head, long before he began to look like a young(er) Jeff Foxworthy, he was just a kid in his early 20s with a terrible mustache.
I take that back. It wasn't terrible. To be completely honest with you, I considered ranking this mustache higher because it was kind of awesome. It is awesome in the way that the mullet is today. The style makes it hard for anyone to take it seriously, yet at the same time you're jealous because your friend can pull it off perfectly.
A staple of Gordon's Busch Series days, that 'stache found itself in a few Victory Lane photos. Granted, you'd have to look hard in some cases because it is so thin it probably needs some Miracle-Gro to really be seen. Now, if he were to bring it back, I'd bet he'd probably find success once again.
Mustache Rating: Meh
Has anyone ever noticed that once Dale Jarrett shaved his mustache he stopped being so successful?
Jarrett's mustache, which had been around since the dawn of the mustache, became associated with Victory Lane in the early '90s. Although he only won a race here and a race there in the early part of the decade, his mustache really came into prominence once he won the Daytona 500.
His climb to the top continued into his move to Robert Yates Racing in 1995, where he continued to display his Super Mario Bros. mustache in Victory Lane. In 1999 his mustache became immortalized once he won the 1999 Winston Cup championship.
He shaved it prior to the 2000 season, and although he won the 2000 Daytona 500, he didn't seem to shine as much during the 2000 season. For that matter, although 2001 was a good season it wasn't the Jarrett we all really knew. From then on, Jarrett just seemed to lose his touch, and it was because his mustache was no more.
Although it was more of a good luck charm for Jarrett, his mustache didn't really pique the interest of those who know facial hair. Its length and thickness were great, but it didn't really stand out from the rest of the mustache group.
Mustache Rating: Wilford Brimley
Every time I see Mike Helton's mustache I just want to mutter "Diabeetus" under my breath. That isn't a knock against the most powerful man (and mustache) on the NASCAR landscape. It's just that I'd be lying if I didn't say the man didn't remind me of Wilford Brimley.
Still, I remember seeing the mustache prior to all of those gray hairs and I have to say that it is fit for a president of a major organization for auto racing. It demands respect, it reeks of money and it is pretty awesome. I hope that once I stop trying to style my facial hair like a frat boy I could grow my mustache out like his.
Tim Richmond had what it takes to be a multiple-time Winston Cup champion. He had the talent, the equipment, and the charisma. He also had the required mustache for an '80s NASCAR star.
However, Richmond was also a victim of his own high-speed lifestyle, and everything was cut short. Still, when a fan thinks of Tim Richmond they still picture his smiling face...and his mustache.
Now, although the Richmond 'stache bore a striking similarity to that of Terry Labonte's, it was shorter in length and thickness. Not to mention personality wise, Labonte's mustache was the Mario to Richmond's Wario.
Still, Richmond's mustache was like that of a '70s actor of ill-repute, and if anyone could pull that off without being too self-conscious then they have my mark of approval.
Mustache Rating: Almost
The two-time Winston Cup champion mustache is regarded as one of the most well-liked mustaches in NASCAR history. As a matter of fact, it had been around for so long that it symbolized Terry Labonte's stoicism and level head.
When the gray strands began to pop up in Labonte's 'stache, he began to look more like a western regulator than a NASCAR superstar. Remember how jarring it was when he shaved it off for the 1999 season? It just didn't feel right without the regal 'stache that adorned Labonte's face. So imagine how happy the fans were when it came back not too long after.
Although there is no doubt that if he were to grow it back it would be close to completely gray, I'm sure there are many in the NASCAR world who wish to see it back nonetheless.
Mustache Rating: Genius
Maybe if Jack Roush had a mustache in the early '90s, he could have been as great as Robert Yates was.
Although the former Ford powerhouse is no longer, he was widely regarded as a genius for his contributions to Ford stock car racing. Meanwhile, his mustache truly set the standard for NASCAR dignitaries all over.
If you look at the photo, note how although this 'stache is nowhere near as thick as Mike Helton's, it is longer than any other mustache on this list. The gray hair mixed with light blond accentuates the fact that this mustache is truly a veteran of the NASCAR garage. This mustache need not have any aspirations of becoming Einstein's mustache, because it was a genius 'stache all by itself.
As phenomenal a talent Davey Allison was, it was an absolute tragedy when he died so soon. His career predated the Youth Movement of the '00s, so there is no telling where he would have ended up had he lived.
A friendly, smiling, mustachioed visage, Allison was adored by millions. Make no mistake, his mustache was a perfect fit as well. Although it was pretty thin, it was still longer than Jeff Gordon's. As a matter of fact, Gordon should have taken pointers from Allison on how to grow a good 'stache.
As the mustache held a perfect balance on Allison's face, its size and thickness made it one of NASCAR's greatest mustaches.
Mustache Rating: Godly
If Richard Petty were to shave his mustache now, the universe would crumble apart. It would be slow. It would be painful. So, for humanity's sake, Petty, keep the 'stache.
It too is a perfect fit for NASCAR's "King." There it sits, well-trimmed, on top of one of the brightest smiles American motorsports has to offer. It isn't too bushy, it isn't ratty, and it doesn't look like a mustache that belongs to a mafia enforcer from the Bronx in 1976.
Petty's mustache is that of a dignitary, and considering the names and faces he has dined with, that seems like a pretty accurate assessment.
Mustache Rating: Pit-bull
What would a mustache list be without Dale Earnhardt?
With a countenance that could only be matched by a pit bull's in intensity, this is the man referred to as "El Mustachio" in Smokey Yunick's 2001 autobiography Best Damn Garage in Town.
The mustache was every bit a part of Earnhardt's persona on the track as his Cheshire Cat grin or his intimidating way behind the wheel. Big, thick and bushy, the mustache was every bit as intimidating because nobody knew whether he was going to bite your head off or smile down brightly upon you.
When Earnhardt shaved it off in 1999 fans were sure to riot, but thankfully he brought it back and kept it to the end.
The only NASCAR personality featured on this list twice, Richard Petty has donned several styles of facial hair. However, his late '70s visage had him donning a mustache that went well with his slicked back hair and huge sunglasses. All he needed to pull off the look of a hitman would be a butterfly collar and a brown leisure suit.
All kidding aside, Petty's mustache was great because it did go well with everything else. It was thick and regal-looking, and he was able to pull it off much better than his current 'stache. It was indicative of the royalty he truly was and is today.
It was also fitting that along with looking like a hitman, he had the psychological advantage of a hitman over his competition of the track.