"Handsome" Harry Gant
Harry Gant, born January 10, 1940, was known throughout the NASCAR community as "Handsome Harry" or to some as "Mr. September". He earned the name "Mr. September" in 1991 for winning four consecutive NASCAR Winston Cup races that month at Darlington, Richmond, Dover Downs and Martinsville tying the modern era (1972-present) record. He also recorded two Busch Series races during that time frame. Gant's best season had to be 1991, finishing a career-high fourth in the points standing, winning five races, one pole, fifteen top-5 finishes and 17 top-10 finishes. He also led in most laps led with 1,684.
Gant finished his career with 18 Winston Cup victories with 13 of those on superspeedways and he had 17 Winston Cup poles. Gant's first win came in his 107th start on April 25, 1982 in the Virginia National Bank 500 at Martinsville Speedway. His first superspeedway win came in his 125th start on October 10, 1982 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the National 500. Gant earned his first pole on July 30, 1979 in his 25th race which was at Pocono Raceway in the Coca-Cola 500.
Gant finished second in 1984 Winston Cup points race; third in 1981 and 1985; fourth in 1982, 1991 and 1992; seventh in 1983 and 1989; eleventh in 1980, 1986 and 1993; seventeenth in 1990; twenty-first in 1979; twenty-second in 1987 and twenty-seventh in 1988. He ran a total of 444 races in the Winston Series and earned $7,882,084.00.
Gant was inducted into the Charlotte (NC) Motor Speedway Court of Legends in '95. He was the National Motorsports Press Association Driver of the Year in 1991 and Copenhagen/Skoal All Pro First Team in 1992, and second team in 1991. Gant also made first team in 1984 and 1991 for the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association All American Team. He was named to the second team in '81,'82,'85 and '92.
Gant competed in four IROC series' and won one of the fifteen races anf the '85 championship. Gant is the oldest driver to win a Winston Cup race at ( 52 years and 219 days); Champion 400 on August 16,1992 at Michigan. He won the Budweiser 500 on May 31, 1992 at Dover Downs to make him the oldest driver to win a 500 mile race, he was 52 years and 142 days.
Gant competed in 128 Busch races between 1982-1994 and had 21 wins, 52 top-five finishes, 71 top-ten finishes and 14 poles. He was runner-up three times (69-76-77) for the NASCAR Late Model Sportsman (now Grand National) championship.
HICKORY SPEEDWAY..THE BIRTHPLACE OF HARRY GANT'S CAREER !
As a young boy,the thing for Harry to do on Saturday nights was to go with his dad and watch family friends and neighbors race on the dirt track at Hickory Speedway.This lead to Harry's love for speed. It was his passion to race the back roads of Taylorsville and other street racers in neighboring towns would come to challenge Harry. In the winter of 63, he helped Benny Kerley and some other friends build a Hobby class car that they took turns driving at Hickory. By 1965, Harry drove the car all of the time and ended up winning the track championship. The next year ,he moved up to late model[Sportsman] division in the 64 Chevrolet that he and friends worked on in the one-stall garage behind his house. Harry would load up on Saturdays and travel the short, 20 miles , from his home in Taylorsville and run every Saturday night at Hickory....In 1967, when Ned Jarrett became the promoter at Hickory and the track was paved, He found that he could run faster and finish better on the asphalt. Harry won his first race in the Late Model division in late 67, Into the early 70's Harry would run his poppy red # 77 Chevy with great Sportsman Drivers such as : Jack Ingram,Tommy Houston, Bosco Lowe , Bob Pressley, Ned Setzer , Red Farmer, Sam Ard L.D. Ottinger, Butch Lindley and Morgan Shepherd. There were times when the orange # 77 would dominate the track. Fans would always be in for a great night of racing as they watched Harry Gant and his respected competitors battle it out under the lights on the short track at Hickory Speedway. Following the advice of Jack Ingram, Harry decided to race everywhere he could to gain more experience and win money to field the car to race on Saturday nights at Hickory. It is these early years that Harry attributes much of his success.==.. " Had it not been for the experience I gained with these racing greats on the track at Hickory, I would not have made it to Winston Cup, Let alone had the success that I did during my Winston Cup Career". by Harry Gant and Family
May 1977 - 6 Races in 5 Days
#47 Race Hill Farms Car
In 1979, at the age of 39, Harry ran his first full Winston Cup (former Grand National) season with Jack Beebe in the #47 Race Hill Farms car. That year Harry ran for Rookie of the Year against Dale Earnhardt, Terry Labonte and Joe Millikan. Harry still built some houses that year and ran an occasional Sportsman Race.
#33 Skoal Bandit Car
In 1981 Harry joined the Mach I/Skoal Bandit Racing Team in the #33 car owned by Hollywood movie producer, Hal Needham and actor, Burt Reynolds. The car was sponsored by U.S. Tobacco Company. This venture would be one that would change Harry's racing career forever!
In September 1991 Harry won 4 consecutive Winston Cup races, Darlington, Richmond, Dover and Martinsville, which earned him the nickname "Mr. September" and tied him with the modern era record. (1972-present) He also won two Busch Grand National Series races during this string. The 1991 season was Harry's most successful, finishing fourth in the Winston Cup points championship, winning 5 races, one pole position, 15 top 5 and 17 top 10 finishes. He was inducted into Charlotte Motor Speedway's Court of Legends. Harry also became the oldest driver to win a Winston Cup Race at age 52 by winning the Winston Cup event in Michigan, August 16, 1992.
April 27th, 2006 saw another award for Harry,
The International Motorsports Hall of Fame
THE INTERNATIONAL MOTORSPORTS HALL OF FAME’S CLASS OF 2006.
On the evening of April 27th, five individuals were inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. They are, from left to right, front row, Harry Gant, Teresa Earnhardt (representing Dale Earnhardt), Janet Guthrie, Jack Roush and Humpy Wheeler. On the back row are the presenters for the Class of 2006. From left to right, Ned Jarrett (Gant), Darrell Waltrip (Guthrie), Mark Martin (Roush) and Ken Squier (Wheeler). Teresa Earnhardt was presented via a video from NBC News anchor Brian Williams. (Mike Weathers Photo)
"Gentleman" Ned Jarrett introduces "Handsome" Harry Gant to the IMHOF
Harry tells the audience a story.
Thanks to Tony Zamora for the Pictures!
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