Everyone has their favorite driver they root for on race day. Some favorites become legends that even competing drivers admire. Here are a few of the greatest American auto racers of all time.
Sitting atop the throne of American motorsports is the appropriately nicknamed “The King” Richard Petty. During NASCAR’s formative years, Petty worked like few others and participated in every single race he could, rain or shine, health or sickness. That worth ethic (and a ton of talent) enabled Petty to win the NASCAR Cup championship seven times, with a staggering 200+ race victories.
Hear me out. Yes, he’s corporate, but Jimmie Johnson is undoubtedly one of NASCAR’s greatest. Johnson is right behind Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. with his six NASCAR Cup championships, and he’s the only driver in history with five consecutive championships. Keep in mind, he still has over a decade left in his career, so odds are very soon that Johnson will be ranked as the winningest NASCAR driver of all time.
Don Garlits is the name you remember of that one drag racer that has 17 national championships split among the NHRA, AHRA, and IHRA. He’s the first racer to hit 200 mph in the quarter mile and has won 144 national events. He was at the first meeting of the NHRA in 1955, and basically created the modern rear-engine dragster. At 84, he made passes in a 2000 hp equivalent electric dragster. Always innovating, there will never be another Don.
John “Brute” Force was utterly unstoppable in the ‘90s, racking up every single NHRA Funny Car Championship trophy from 1993 to 2002. He has sixteen championship wins, over 1,000 elimination round wins, and 130+ overall wins. He was the first Funny Car driver under a 5 second quarter mile and has brought his daughters and son to racing as the “first family of drag racing.” And he’s not done yet.
AJ Foyt is one of the best American drivers of any format. He has 14 championship titles, won the Indy 500 in 1961, 1964, 1967, and 1977, then won the Daytona 500, the 24 Hours of Daytona, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He’s won in everything from NASCAR to IROC and even ran 3 races in Formula One. Foyt is known for being an all-around cool guy and still one of the best drivers in the world well into his 80s.
Mario Andretti is a household name for a reason. He has won races in Formula One, IndyCar, World Sportscar Championship and NASCAR, and won the Indy 500 in 1969. He’s won ovals, road courses, and dirt tracks, has competed with three other family members in IndyCar, and even participated in Bullrun. While he’s mainly sticking to commercials and technical advising these days, Andretti also coaches new drivers with his vast wealth of knowledge. Cool guy.
Those are the top six that immediately spring to mind when we hear greatest American drivers, but we want to know your thoughts. We’re missing F1, WRC, and Formula Off-Road, among others. Let us know who should be added to the list of America’s greatest drivers.Tags: AJ Foyt, Mario Andretti, NASCAR, race car drivers, Richard Petty Posted by