“With Junie Donlavey’s passing this week, NASCAR lost a treasure, a man who personified NASCAR’s proud past,” a statement from NASCAR read. “With 863 starts as a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car owner, he won over millions of fans through his 50-plus years in our sport.”
Donlavey was a Richmond, Va., native who fielded cars in NASCAR from the sport’s earliest days in 1949 through 2005. After serving in the Navy, Donlavey embarked on a career as a race car driver, but when that didn’t pan out, he focused his attention on NASCAR team ownership.
“Virginia and NASCAR lost a legend of our sport with the passing of Junie Donlavey,” Richmond International Racway President Dennis Bickmeier said. “I had the honor of meeting Junie a couple of years ago when he joined us for a press conference with our partner Federated Auto Parts. He was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.”
Donlavey competed as a car owner in 863 top-level events in NASCAR. His No. 90 car only won once, but a list of drivers who drove for him reads like a who’s who of NASCAR, a list that incldues several NASCAR Hall of Famers. Donlavey provided rides for some 150 different stock car drivers, 60 of those in NASCAR’s Cup Series. Jody Ridley gave Donlavey his lone NASCAR top level win in 1981 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Other drivers who drove for Donlavey at the Cup level include Buck Baker, Buddy Baker, Benny Parsons, Cale Yarborough, Joe Weatherly, Ricky Rudd, Ken Schrader, Ernie Irvan, Bobby Isaac, David Pearson, Fred Lorenzen, Tiny Lund, Dick Trickle and Rick Mast.
“His legacy will be the hundreds of drivers and crew members who he helped that went on to great careers,” Ford Motor Company Board of Directors member Edsel B. Ford said, according to a release from Ford Racing.