Every day this week, Stock Car Spin will profile one of the inductees into the Hall of Fame. 2012 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Cale Yarborough had a number of firsts in his career: he was the first driver to win three consecutive Cup Series championships(1976 to 1978), the first NASCAR driver to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and the first driver to qualify for the Daytona 500 at a speed of over 200 miles per hour. Below is just a little bit about Yarborough, who will join fellow 2012 inductees Darrell Waltrip, Glen Wood, Dale Inman, and Richie Evans in the NASCAR Hall of Fame on January 20, 2012.
William Caleb “Cale” Yarborough was born March 27th, 1939 near Timmonsville, South Carolina. He played high school and semi-pro football in Columbia and was also a Golden Gloves boxer – a skill he showed off during the 1979 Daytona 500. He made his NASCAR debut in the 1957 Southern 500 at Darlington and raced periodically in the series throughout the rest of the 1950s and early 1960s; he won his first race in 1965 at Valdosta Speedway in Georgia.
Yarborough from from the mid 60s to mid 70s for a number of teams, including the famed Wood Brothers, Bud Moore Engineering, and Junior Johnson. He raced in the Indianapolis 500 in 1966, 1967, 1971, and 1972. His highest finish in the race was 10th in 1972. His three NASCAR Cup Series titles were ran under Johnson, who had purchased the team during the 1974 season.
Many race fans will remember Yarborough for his 1979 Daytona 500 fight with Bobby and Donnie Allison. Donnie Allison and Yarborough wrecked on the final lap of the race, the first NASCAR 500 mile broadcast on television. That broadcast is often looked at as the start of the growth of NASCAR as a national sport.
Yarborough would retire from driving in 1988, but stayed in the sport as a team owner until the 1999 season. He ranks sixth on the all-time NASCAR winner’s list. Yarborough completed 560 races and in those races he won 83 and had 319 top 10 finishes. Besides his Cup Series titles, he was the 1984 International Race of Champions champ and a four time Daytona 500 winner. When NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers” list was complied in 1998, he was a shoo-in. He is also a member of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame, the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, the Charlotte Motor Speedway Court of Legends, and the Talladega Walk of Fame. Yarborough even has a stretch of South Carolina Highway 403 that runs through his hometown named in his honor.
Come back tomorrow as we profile Darrell Waltrip.