NASCAR champions Ned and Dale Jarrett were inducted into Lowe's Motor Speedway's Court of Legends Tuesday afternoon as part of the week-long festivities leading up to Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.
The Jarretts are the first father and son to be enshrined in the speedway's Court of Legends and the induction ceremony included having their signatures, footprints and handprints immortalized in concrete near the track's main entrance.
They are the 21st and 22nd members of the Court of Legends, joining fellow NASCAR legends such as Richard Petty, David Pearson, Benny Parsons, Bobby Allison, Junior Johnson, Darrell Waltrip and Terry Labonte.
Dale Jarrett's induction came just four days before he climbs into the No. 44 UPS Toyota Camry for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, his final career start in stock car racing's premier division.
"Ned and Dale Jarrett are champions on and off the race track and it is an honor to induct them into our Court of Legends," said H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president and general manager of Lowe's motor Speedway. "They are true southern gentlemen who never forgot the most important part of this sport-the race fans. Be it in victory or defeat, they both were always very gracious and courteous, attributes many will remember more than their combined 82 victories and three championships."
Ned Jarrett drove his first stock car race at his hometown track, Hickory Motor Speedway, in 1952 and, after twice finishing second in the NASCAR Sportsman division points standings, became a regular in what was then the NASCAR Grand National division in 1960.
Known as "Gentleman Ned," the elder Jarrett's pleasant disposition and smooth driving style made him a fan favorite. He was a consistent visitor to victory lane and captured the series championship in 1961 and again in 1965 when he posted 42 top-five finishes in 54 starts.
During the 1966 season, Ned Jarrett was in the chase for a third championship when Ford Motor Co. suddenly announced it was withdrawing from the sport. Even though he was only 34 at the time, Jarrett retired from driving and went on to enjoy a very successful broadcasting career, first as a radio pit reporter and later as a television color analyst.
His driving career featured 50 victories in 352 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts.
Ignoring the advice of his father, Dale Jarrett turned down a golf scholarship to the University of South Carolina to purse his passion for racing.
The younger Jarrett spent several years honing his skills in the late model ranks and eventually assembled a team to compete in what is now known as the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
"It was definitely hit and miss early on," Jarrett said. "I owned the company. I went out and tried to drum up the sponsorship. I didn't build the engines, (but) I did learn to build the cars. I put bodies on them. I think I was paying myself $115 a week. But I was making it, and it all led to really good things."
Dale Jarrett made his fist NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start in 1984 and became a series regular in 1989. His first big break came in 1990 when Jarrett was selected to fill in for the injured Neil Bonnett. It was during his time in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford that Jarrett scored his first series victory at Michigan International Speedway in 1991.
He then spent three years with the new Joe Gibbs Racing team and his two victories in the No. 18 included the 1994 Daytona 500. In 1995, he moved to Robert Yates Racing where he spent the next 12 seasons. While driving for Yates, Jarrett won 29 races and captured the 1999 championship. The victories included two more Daytona 500s, the 1996 Coca-Cola 600 and a pair of Brickyard 400s.
The younger Jarrett completed his career with Michael Waltrip Racing and his final stats show 32 victories in 668 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts.
Court of Legends
Richard Petty, Seven-time NASCAR champion, 200 victories
Bobby Allison, 1983 NASCAR champion, 84 victories
Joe Lee Johnson, Winner of the inaugural Coca-Cola 600 in 1960
Donnie Allison, 10 NASCAR victories in 242 starts
Benny Parsons, 1973 NASCAR champion, 21 victories
Leonard Wood, Credited with engineering the modern-day pit stop
Glen Wood, Founder of the legendary Wood Brothers Racing team
David Pearson, Three-time (1966, '68, '69) NASCAR champion, 105 victories
Harry Gant, 18 NASCAR victories in 474 starts
Alan Kulwicki, 1992 NASCAR champion, 5 victories
Buddy Baker, 19 NASCAR victories in 699 starts
Tim Flock, Two-time (1952, '55) NASCAR champion, 39 victories
Junior Johnson, 50 NASCAR victories in 313 career starts
Cale Yarborough, Three-time (1976, '77, '78) NASCAR champion, 83 victories
Ralph Moody, Won 93 NASCAR races a car owner
Darrell Waltrip, Three-time (1981, '82, '85) NASCAR champion, 84 victories
Ernie Irvan, 15 NASCAR victories in 313 career starts
Terry Labonte, Two-time (1984, '96) NASCAR champion, 22 victories
Mark Martin, 35 NASCAR victories in 707 career starts
Rusty Wallace, 1989 NASCAR champion, 55 victories
Ned Jarrett, Two-time (1961, '65) NASCAR champion, 50 victories
Dale Jarrett, 1999 NASCAR champion, 32 victories