All In The Family

In a recent article, I mentioned several of the higher profile racing families, and some of the members of those families. In response, I received several emails from readers saying "Hey! You forgot about..." So, let me respond to those messages.

First, yes I did miss a couple of big name drivers.
Second, SOME of those drivers were left out intentionally for various reasons.
Third, those people concerned with which names were left out apparently didn't get that the article wasn't even about those families. It was about Kyle Busch and his reckless driving incident. I only mentioned other brother-brother racing families, and father-son racing families because the previous overly-publicized off-track driving incident happened to be Kyle's older brother.

But all of those emails did get me thinking more and more about racing families, on the track, near the track, and even watching the track.

For fans, NASCAR is sometimes a family event. More and more, it's not just Dad sitting in front of the TV watching the cars go around. That still seems to be the case with other sports. Traditionally baseball games, football games, and basketball games are watched primarily by fathers and sons. There are lots of exceptions to the rule, but they're mostly male-oriented broadcasts. But NASCAR is becoming more and more of a family sport, one that's watched by male and female family members alike.

But aside from the families sitting at home watching the TV, there are lots of other families in the sport.

There's the Petty family, for one. Yes, this is one where I missed a whole generation in my earlier article. Lee Petty was one of the original NASCAR drivers. He won the first Daytona 500, and won three championships in the early days. His son, Richard "The King" is probably the most widely known of the family. Kyle Petty is the third generation of the family, and is still racing. His son Adam was tragically killed in a crash at New Hampshire during a NASCAR race.

Then there's the Earnhardt family. I got a lot of emails pointing out that Not only Dale Jr. and his father Dale Earnhardt were racers, but also Dale Sr's father, Ralph should have been mentioned. Actually, I had left Ralph out on purpose, because in my brief mention of families, I was trying to stick to those who had made a career of NASCAR racing. Although Ralph raced occasionally in NASCAR races, he mainly stuck to the short tracks in and around North Carolina. Same with Ralph's other grandson, Kerry. Yes, he has been in a few NASCAR races, but I didn't mention him before because he's certainly not a "regular" on the track.

As far as drivers go, there are several families where brothers, or fathers and sons have been professional racers. And more are cropping up every year with sons of current drivers starting to build their way toward a NASCAR career. But what about the families surrounding the track?

There are teams that are owned by families. Ganassi Racing is a family business, as are Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Roush Racing, and others.

And what about the France Family? Bill Sr. was the founder and first president of NASCAR. He handed the position to Bill Jr. And that family still holds four of the five seats on the NASCAR Board of Directors.

With so many families involved in NASCAR, we could go on for days talking about the various families, and probably still miss some. But it's fairly obvious that NASCAR has definitely become a family sport, from the drivers, to the owners, to the fans. And that's one of the many things that makes it such a great sport.

Published on April 23, 2006 in