NASCAR Families, Part 2:  The Jarretts

 Like many families that have competed in NASCAR, the seed that was planted for the future success of the future generations was done early.  Ned got the family started early in the sport's existence.  Even after he stepped out of the car, the success of the Jarrett Family continued.  In Part 2 of this special series, the story of the Jarrett Family's impact in the sport.

The Jarrett's start in NASCAR goes back to the early 1950's.  Ned Jarrett's first race was at Hickory, NC in 1952.  He drove a Sportsman Ford co-owned by his brother-in-law.  But his father was not to thrilled by it.  He told Ned that he could work on the cars, but not drive him.  There was one occasion that Ned's brother-in-law was sick and was asked to fill in for him.  He wound up finishing second.  He actually raced under an assumed name before his father found out.  His first Grand National race was at Hickory in 1953.  Ned fell out of the race after only 10 laps because of an oil leak.  Better days would soon follow.  Ned won the Hickory track championship in 1955 and the Sportsman Series championships in 1957 and 1958.  He was looking to get into the Grand National Series by the late 50's.  He won the Grand National Championship in 1961 and then again in 1965.  In that 1965 season, he won the Southern 500 by an incredible 14 laps.  Ned retired in 1966 when Ford announced they were withdrawing from the sport.  Throughout his career, he earned the nickname "Gentleman Ned" because of his character off the track.  He finished his career with 50 wins.  After racing, he went into real estate and other business ventures.  He was back as an announcer for MRN Radio in 1978 and had a live interview with President Ronald Reagan at the 1984 Firecracker 400 at Daytona (where Richard Petty won his 200th career race).  As Ned continued to announce on TV in the 80's and 90's his saw the career of his son Dale blossom.  Dale Jarrett, like his father, began his career at Hickory in 1977.  He got into NASCAR in 1982, running the Busch Series primarily, but he did make two Winston Cup start that same year.  He finished second for Rookie of the Year to Davey Allison in 1987.  After racing for various team the rest of the decade, he finally had a full time ride in 1990.  He took over for an injured Neil Bonnett in the Wood Brothers famous #21.  In 1991, Dale got his first win in the Winston Cup Series at Michigan, with his father Ned broadcasting for ESPN.  But what many fans will remember more is the finish at the 1993 Daytona 500.  On the final lap, Jarrett passed Dale Earnhardt.  As the drivers raced towards the checkered flag, Ned was loudly pulling for his son.  As Dale crossed the line for the win, Ned voiced his fatherly pride on CBS.  But, ever gracious, Ned tried to apologize to Dale Earnhardt if he offended him.  Earnhardt however understood, saying "I'm a father, too".  Dale won the Daytona 500 in 1996 and again in 2000, both times with Ned broadcasting for CBS.  The high point in Dale Jarrett's career came in 1999, when he won his Winston Cup Championship.  Dale continues to race today, running the UPS Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing.  It's not uncommon to see Dale and Ned together in various UPS commercials.  While he continues to race, Dale, like Ned, broadcasts some as well.  He is broadcasting select Busch Series events currently for ABC and ESPN.  The Jarrett's in NASCAR is not limited to just Ned and Dale.  Ned's other son, Glenn, was a regular in the Busch Series and raced a few Cup races before himself becoming a broadcaster.  Ned's daughter Patti also worked in racing before becoming a mother.  Patti is married to Jimmy Makar, who worked for Dale at Joe Gibbs Racing and was crew chief for Bobby Labonte when he won the Winston Cup in 2000.  Dale's son Jason has raced in numerous events in the Busch series and has won in the ARCA/Re-Max Series.  Jason currently is a spotter for Dale in the Nextel Cup Series.  Older fans remember Ned as the driver.  Younger fans remember Dale driving and Ned in the TV booth.  Through the decades and generations, the Jarrett's have had an impact on the sport of NASCAR that will always be recognized.  It's not just a family of racing champions.  It's a family that has built themselves around faith, values, dignity, and class.  As much as the accomplishments on the track, it's the type of people the Jarrett Family are off the track that may have an even greater impact on the sport. By CrimsonCowboy

Driver Insider Top Stories