Cup Champion: 1961 and 1965
Born: October 12, 1932
Hometown: Newton, N.C.
Ned Jarrett was the quintessential NASCAR champion. His consistency coupled with the ability to win races led to two Sprint Cup championships.
He called himself “a thinking man’s race driver” and said “I never considered myself to be a thrill seeker.” His unassuming demeanor earned him the nickname “Gentleman Ned,” but his competitiveness on the track was undeniable.
In 353 Cup starts he earned 50 victories and 35 poles. He is tied for 11th place in all-time wins with Junior Johnson. In 1964 and 1965, he led the series in wins with 15 and 13 respectively. He also made a name for himself in the Sportsman Division, winning two consecutive titles in 1957 and 1958.
Jarrett won his first Cup championship in 1961. He only had one win but finished the season with 34 top 10s in 46 starts. In 1965, he captured his second series title picking up 13 wins and 42 top fives along the way. Jarrett added to his list of accomplishments that year by winning the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway by 14 laps, setting a record for the largest margin of victory in NASCAR Sprint Cup history.
Jarrett was only 33 when he retired from racing in 1966. It was a decision based on his desire to leave when he was on top.
“People have a tendency to remember you for the last thing you did,” he explained. “I was still the reigning champion when I drove my last race.”
He then decided to reconnect with his roots as owner and promoter for Hickory Motor Speedway in North Carolina. In 1976, he sold his ownership in the track and began looking for another way to make a living. It was at this point that Jarrett returned to the sport as a radio broadcaster and eventually he found his way to television where he flourished.
Ned Jarrett was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2011, displaying the same humility that has endeared him to followers of the sport.
“God has truly blessed me in so many wonderful ways,” he said. “He gave me some talent, willpower, strength and many opportunities to use those attributes.”
Jarrett’s achievements on the track and in the broadcast booth have made him an integral part of NASCAR’s legacy and one of its most influential ambassadors.
1957 – Sportsman Division Champion
1958 – Sportsman Division Champion
1961 – NASCAR Grand National Champion (Now Sprint Cup)
1965 – NASCAR Grand National Champion (Now Sprint Cup)
1973 – Inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame
1991 – Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame
1997 – Inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America
1997 – Inducted into Talladega Walk of Fame
1998 – Named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers
2011 – Inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame