Jack Roush and The Top 10 Owners In NASCAR History
NASCAR team owners are unique composites of toughness, innovative ability, business acumen and people skills.
Had it not been for the foresight of the first team owners working with Bill France Sr., the sport of stock car racing could have remained in it's roots of running moonshine.
It is the team owners who pushed the envelope by building faster cars and working in the gray area of the rule books who built the sport.
Many of our most recognized owners were NASCAR drivers at one time. They knew what to expect from the drivers they hired.
Having been drivers, they could relate to the trials and tribulations of their teams and appreciate the joy of a good finish or race win.
Competition amongst drivers has always been tough. Part of the job of the owner was to referee battles that erupted with drivers.
Each decade of racing has produced not only new technology, but a new breed of drivers as race cars morphed from cars driven on country back-roads to the modern era high-tech stock cars of today.
The owners have changed as well from the good ole boy style to the sophistication required by today's owners because of the exposure they have to media and their multi-faceted business deals.
Long gone is the day of hooking a trailer to a station wagon and hitting the road for the next race.
Today's owners and drivers travel by jets and helicopters for not only races, but most any business and personal travel that takes them away from their home base.
It is the owners working under the guidance of the France family that brought us drivers who thrilled us with their feats of daring on the track.
Let's take a look at one of the sports favorite owners, Jack Roush and 10 other owners who were the best at what they did in the sport of NASCAR.
Jack Roush: One Tough Gentleman
Jack Roush, known as the "Cat in the Hat" because of his trademark hats graduated college with several degrees and went to work for Ford in 1966.
It didn't take long for him to realize he could have his own engineering business, which he began a few years later.
Roush was a racer at heart and began in drag racing. He started supplying parts for his team even as he moved into the Trans Am and IMSA racing series during the 80s and early 90s.
His racing endeavors went on to include a NASCAR team that has expanded to what is now known as Roush Fenway Racing.
Roush is the consummate car guy. His NASCAR Ford teams have won championship titles. Currently he fields four teams in the top-tier of NASCAR with Matt Kenseth, David Ragan, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards.
Roush Fenway Racing is one of the sport's most respected operations. The man in charge, Jack Roush, is tough in the business world, racing world and as a human being. He is an innovator in the automotive world and is well-liked and respected by those who know him.
Roush has another passion, airplanes. His toughness once again was evident following a crash in late July where he walked out of his plane despite serious injuries including the loss of vision in one eye.
The plane crash was nothing new considering he was nearly killed in another crash in 2002 where the plane was underwater and Roush was unconscious.
Roush is a survivor and we are thankful for that. NASCAR and motorsports would not be the same without the "Cat in the Hat".
Raymond Parks: This Is Where It Began
Raymond Parks was in the moonshine business, but after serving a brief stint in prison he turned his money toward the racing business.
It was Parks who met with Bill France Sr. and a few others at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach to create an organization known as NASCAR.
He was considered the first significant team owner with cars built by mechanic Red Vogt and driven by Red Byron in 1948.
Parks and Byron won the first NASCAR Strictly Stock Championship, currently known as the Sprint Cup title in 1949. He later had cars driven by Fonty Flock and Curtis Turner.
Parks became a respected southern gentleman and Georgia businessman. He remained active until his recent death in June at the age of 96.
He is a nominee for the second class at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Cotton Owens: Team Owner for Some of NASCAR's Best
Cotton Owens ran some 400 modified and late model sportsman races. He had more than 100 wins in what is now known as the NASCAR Whelen Modified series.
Owens began NASCAR racing in 1950, securing nine wins out of 160 races. One of his best wins was in 1964 when he came out of retirement to beat his driver, David Pearson, which was Owen's final win.
The South Carolina native had some of the great drivers in NASCAR race for him including, Junior Johnson, David Pearson, Buddy Baker, Marty Robbins, Pete Hamilton, Ralph Earnhardt, Bobby Isaac, Benny Parsons, Fireball Roberts, Charlie Glotzbach and others.
The 86-year-old Owens will undoubtedly be inducted to NASCAR's Hall of Fame.
The Wood Brothers: A Pair to Reckon With in NASCAR
The elder brother, Glen Wood was a NASCAR driver some 60 years ago. He retired from racing in 1964. His brother, Leonard Wood was part of the team from the beginning and was the engine builder.
Wood Brothers Racing had an impressive list of drivers including Curtis Turner, Fireball Roberts, Dale Jarrett, A.J. Foyt, Buddy Baker, Junior Johnson, Marvin Panch, Cale Yarborough, Ralph Earnhardt, Neil Bonnett, Ricky Rudd, Mark Martin and Bill Elliott.
The most recognized driver for the Virginia brothers was David Pearson in the famous No. 21 Mercury.
Though Glen and Leonard have retired from active participation in the business, Glen's sons Eddie and Len have assumed operation of the Wood Brothers Racing we see today.
Junior Johnson: Driving the Backroads Served Him Well
Junior Johnson was a moonshine runner on the back roads of the south. His experience of driving on the winding roads led him to NASCAR as a driver in the early 1950s.
Johnson had 50 wins in NASCAR before retiring as a driver in 1966.
As an owner, Johnson attracted many of the best drivers in the sport including, Lee Roy Yarbrough, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough, Neil Bonnett, Darrell Waltrip, Terry Labonte, Bill Elliott, Jimmy Spencer and Sterling Marlin.
His drivers won 139 races ranking him third to Hendrick Motorsports and Petty Enterprises.
Johnson's drivers attained six Winston Cup (Sprint Cup) championships with Darrell Waltrip in 1981-82 and 1985 and Cale Yarborough winning in 1976, 1977 and 1978.
In 1986, President Ronald Reagan granted Johnson a presidential pardon related to his 1956 conviction for moonshine operations. Johnson said his restoration of the right to vote and to hold a passport was, "one of the greatest things in my life."
Johnson also called his induction into the first class of NASCAR's Hall of Fame another "great moment" in his life.
He is legally back in the liquor business selling Midnight Moon, an 80-proof version of his family moonshine recipe.
Bud Moore: Country Boy Owner in NASCAR
Bud Moore is a South Carolina native, decorated World War II veteran, farmer and race team owner. He described himself a "an old country mechanic who loved to make' em run fast."
Moore's signature Fords were red and white with the No. 15. He ran cars not only in NASCAR, but the Trans Am and IMSA racing series as well.
Those who drove for Moore included, Fireball Roberts, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Isaac, Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip, Donnie Allison and Ricky Rudd.
In 37 years, the car owner secured 63 wins, 43 poles and two NASCAR Grand National (Sprint Cup) championships with Joe Weatherly in 1962 and 1963.
Moore's opinion on many facets of racing was highly respected by those in NASCAR. He is certain to be in NASCAR's Hall of Fame one day.
Richard Petty: Can His Win Record Be Broken?
Richard Petty, known in NASCAR as the "King" is a seven-time champion in NASCAR's top-tier of racing with 200 wins to his credit. His win record remains intact.
The son of NASCAR great, Lee Petty, ran his famous No. 43 out of Petty Enterprises with crew chief Dale Inman at his side throughout most of his career.
Petty ran 1,184 races in 35 years with his first win in 1960 and his last at the 1984 Firecracker 400 in Daytona.
Petty last raced in 1992 and brought Bobby Hamilton and John Andretti in as drivers for him. Petty Enterprises then went through a series of mergers ending with what is now known as Richard Petty Motorsports. George Gillett owns the majority of the team and his son is in charge of operations with Petty's responsibilities having been somewhat minimalized.
Currently Kasey Kahne, AJ Allmendinger, Elliott Sadler and Paul Menard drive for RPM, but Kahne, Sadler and Menard will leave in 2011 with Marcos Ambrose coming in.
Roger Penske: He's Come a Long Ways from Driving Sports Cars
Roger Penske drove sports cars in the 50s and retired from driving in the early 60s. His buying and selling of cars as a teenager led him to buying and selling race cars.
Penske Racing was formed in 1965 with the open-wheel Indy style cars. He did drive a couple NASCAR races with his first win in 1973. Penske's IndyCar teams are amongst the best in that series.
Penske Racing operates NASCAR teams with Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, and Sam Hornish in the Cup series. He also fields teams in the NASCAR Nationwide series.
Drivers who have raced for Penske include, Mark Donohue, Dave Marcis, Bobby Allison and Donny Allison.
Though Rusty Wallace drove for Penske in 1980, the owner got out of NASCAR for 11 years, returning in 1991. Wallace was once again behind the wheel of the Miller Beer race car.
He is the lone NASCAR team owner to run Dodge cars.
Penske has vast business holdings besides his open-wheel and NASCAR teams. He remains highly respected as an owner in motorsports.
Richard Childress: Great Owner, Not So Good Behind The Wheel
Richard Childress ran 285 races, but never won a race, though he had 76 top-10 finishes.
In 1971 Childress drove the No. 3 car as a tribute to Junior Johnson. At the time he was an independent driver in NASCAR's top-tier.
He retired as a driver in 1981. Rod Osterlund sold his team which had Dale Earnhardt Sr. as the driver. Earnhardt did not want to drive for the new owner.
Childress put Dale Sr. behind the wheel of the No. 3 Wrangler car. The alliance lasted one season and Ricky Rudd drove for him in 1982 and 1983. They got their first win in 1983 at Riverside Raceway.
Earnhardt returned in 1984 and the rest is history as they say. The awesome team went on to win six NASCAR Sprint Cup Championships. Earnhardt had won his first title in 1980.
After the famous driver known to all as the "Intimidator" was killed at Daytona in 2001, Childress was devastated to have lost not only his driver, but best friend.
Richard Childress Racing carried on with Kevin Harvick replacing Earnhardt in car No. 29. Harvick still drives for RCR and is currently the point leader for the Sprint Cup series. Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton also drive for Childress with Paul Menard joining the group in 2011.
RCR has run cars in the NASCAR Nationwide series and trucks in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series.
Joe Gibbs: From Football To NASCAR
Joe Gibbs was perhaps best known as coach of the Washington Redskins NFL team. He was also an owner of NHRA drag racing pro cars and is now highly recognized as a NASCAR team owner.
Gibbs retired from football in 1992 and formed Joe Gibbs Racing. As a team owner, he won championship titles in NASCAR's top-tier, one with Bobby Labonte and two with Tony Stewart.
Dale Jarrett was the first driver for Gibbs in the Interstate Batteries No. 18 car.
Currently Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano drive Cup cars for Joe Gibbs Racing, which is operated on a day to day basis by J.D.Gibbs, son of Joe Gibbs. JGR runs cars in the NASCAR Nationwide series as well.
Joe Gibbs is well respected for his people skills and work ethic. He is still very visible with the team and at NASCAR events.
Rick Hendrick: The Premier NASCAR Team Owner
Rick Hendrick is the owner of one of the largest automotive chains in America. He is also considered to be top of the line as a NASCAR team owner.
Hendrick did drive a few NASCAR Cup races without success. He founded Hendrick Motorsports in 1984. Hendrick has nine NASCAR Sprint Cup titles with four from Jeff Gordon and four from Jimmie Johnson. The other Hendrick driver to win a championship was Terry Labonte.
Other drivers who have raced for HMS include, Geoff Bodine, Tim Richmond, Benny Parsons, Darrell Waltrip, Ken Schrader, Ricky Craven, Todd Bodine, Wally Dallenbach Jr., Joe Nemechek, Ricky Rudd, Brian Vickers, Casey Mears, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski.
Currently besides Johnson and Gordon are Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. competing for HMS in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.
In 2004 Hendrick's son, Ricky, two nieces and brother were killed in an airplane crash en route to Martinsville Speedway for a race. A total of ten people aboard the plane died.
Though Hendrick has been considered the premier owner in the modern NASCAR era, it appears other teams like Roush, Gibbs and RCR may be gaining on Hendrick Motorsports with the tough competition we are currently seeing.