Ned Jarrett is often viewed as one of the nicest men to ever compete in NASCAR, a true gentleman in both his on and off the track behavior. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t a hard-charger on the track, though. Jarrett was able to storm past the competition on a consistent basis, landing him an impressive array of accomplishments in a driving career that ended more quickly than others in the sport. Here are five of the achievements that make him a member of the 2011 class of the Hall of Fame.
Even since his retirement from television, Jarrett has remained a visible part of the sport. He just turned 78, but still works to move the sport forward by remaining a presence at NASCAR events. He is open to fans and media and is able to explain NASCAR’s evolution from a grassroots sport to a national one with the perspective of both a driver and a broadcaster.
Made for TV
While older, traditional fans know Jarrett for his driving success, a newer group recognizes him for his calm voice and smooth approach to broadcasting races. He was the first driver to participate in radio, working on the Motor Racing Network broadcast crew, then signed with CBS network and transitioned into a television personality. Jarrett spent 22 seasons in the broadcast booth and gave racing one of its most notable moments when he called his son, Dale Jarrett’s, stirring victory in the 1993 Daytona 500.
What a sportsman
Jarrett was a factor in more than just the Cup series as well. Before he tallied those titles, he captured a pair of titles in the Sportsman Division (1957 and 1958). Jarrett truly was a force in everything that he drove.
Jarrett tallied 50 career victories during the course of his career – and some of them were pretty amazing. In 1965, driving for Bondy Long, he won the prestigious Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway by 14 laps. That’s 17.5 miles. That’s still the largest margin of victory in Cup history. He’s tied for 10th on the all-time wins list with Junior Johnson. During the 1964-65 seasons, he won 28 total races. Jarrett then retired in 1966.
What a champ!
Jarrett won his first title in 1961 driving a Chevrolet for W.G. Holloway Jr. He won one race that season, but was consistent throughout the season. He earned 34 top-10 finishes in 46 starts. He won the title again in 1965, driving for Bondy Long. Jarrett overcame a back injury to finish with 13 wins. In 54 starts, he earned 42 top-five finishes.