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Neil Bonnett
July 21, 1946 - February 11, 1994

NASCAR Winston Cup Career: 1974-90, 1994

February 6, 2002   From Nascar.com

Neil Bonnett was one of the most affable drivers in NASCAR Winston Cup Series history, earning 18 series victories during his 18-year career. Among his 18 wins were back-to-back victories in NASCAR's longest (miles) race -- the Coca-Cola 600 (1982,'83). Bonnett also won back-to-back Busch Clash (now Bud Shootout) races at Daytona International Speedway (1983, '84). Bonnett's highest finish in the series points chase was in 1985 when he finished fourth and his teammate, Darrell Waltrip, won the championship. He was an original member of the Alabama Gang that include the Allisons and Red Farmer. Outside the cockpit, Bonnett developed a career as a television commentator for race broadcasts and hosted his own show, Neil Bonnett's Winners on TNN: The Nashville Network. Bonnett was fatally injured in a crash during practice for the 1994 Daytona 500. He was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association's Hall of Fame in 1997.
 


Here is a fascinating story about Neil Bonnett - "The Recording Artist"

11/2011: From GEORGE WELLS: We had a contract with Neil (Bonnett) before he won his first NASCAR race and we recorded him at Prestige Studio in Birmingham.  Let me know if you like the idea of a musical tribute to Neil.

We sure would. So, here it is. A unique historical perspective, a musical tribute.

One Monday night, in August of 1977, myself and a number of friends, met Neil Bonnett at the Prestige Studios in Birmingham, AL, to record a song we had written entitled: THE MEN WHO RACE FOR THE CHECKERED FLAG.”  We had worked out a deal with Bobby Allison to sing the song for us, but, he said he was too busy and suggested we use his brother-in-law, who was an up and coming NASCAR driver.  We signed Neil to a recording contract and only later did we learn that Neil could not sing. 

On that August night, we spent 11 hours in the studio and because of the retakes required we decided to do only one song and to use an instrumental on the flip side. During those hours Neil kept us all laughing with his many words of wisdom.   Fortunately, I made notes of many of the jokes he used. 

Few people are aware that Neil had made a recording.  Less than a month after his recording he won his first Winston Cup race in Richmond, VA.  Neil played the song for Marty Robbins at one of the race tracks.  Marty said:  "Neil, if you will stop singing, I will stop driving."

Thanks and have a blessed day.

GEORGE WELLS,  WRITER/PUBLISHER,  HUNTSVILLE, AL

Here's this unique song:  “THE MEN WHO RACE FOR THE CHECKERED FLAG”
(Give it a moment to download. When finished hit Back arrow to return to this page)
 

From the Stock Car Hall of Fame Website:

An original member of the "Alabama Gang" along with his great friends Bobby, Donnie and Davey Allison and Red Farmer, Neil Bonnett logged over 360 starts in NASCAR Winston Cup Series races enjoying 18 victories, 83 Top 5 finishes, and 156 top 10 finishes.

Among Neil Bonnett's greatest victories were wins at the 1979 Daytona Firecracker 400, the 1980 Talladega 500, and the 1981 Southern 500. Bonnett also celebrated many Winston Cup victories at Atlanta, Pocono, Charlotte, Richmond and others.

After a career postponing crash, Bonnett launched a highly successful broadcasting career from 1990 through 1994 as an analyst and as host of his own very successful weekly show about auto racing entitled, "Winners."

Bonnet drove for such legendary teams and car owners as Junior Johnson, the Wood's Brothers, Harry Hyde, Richard Childress, Jim Stacy, and Rah Moc in everything from Fords and Mercurys to Chevrolets and Pontiacs earning over $3.3 million dollars in prize money.

Bonnet enjoyed his family, racing, and hunting and fishing. Neil Bonnett has been sorely missed by his family, friends, and fans since a fatal testing crash at Daytona in 1994.

Neil Bonnett, NASCAR legend and original member of the storied "Alabama Gang" joins the Oceanside Rotary Club Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame February 14, 2005.

From the TalladegaWalk.com Website:

Rarely does a racer manage to combine aggressive driving and genuine popularity the way Neil Bonnett did. Neil enjoyed being referred to as "a charger", but even more than that, he enjoyed the friendship and respect that he was accorded in every garage or pit area he ever went into.

Neil Bonnett's career began as a Hueytown teenager who was considered a protégé to Bobby Allison, and grew until he was an accepted member of the famed "Alabama Gang" of auto racing. .

Bonnett began his move to the big time in 1973 at Daytona, in the Sportsman 300. He ran his first Daytona 500 in 1976, starting 13th and finishing fifth. In 13 Winston Cup races that season, Bonnett had that top-five finish and four more top-ten finishes, winning some $31,000. The 1977 season began a string of 13 consecutive years in which Bonnett would run no fewer than 21 races, with 18 wins, 83 top-five and 156 top-ten finishes.

His first Winston Cup victory came in 1977, at the Capital City 400 in Richmond, Virginia. His last was perhaps the most remarkable, when he returned from a devastating crash in 1987 to win two of the first three races of 1988. Bonnett finished fourth in the Daytona 500, then won at Richmond and Rockingham. He also went to Australia and edged Bobby Allison for the checkered flag in the Goodyear 500 K exhibition race in Melbourne.

It was a remarkable comeback of a career over following the 1987 crash that eventually led to major hip surgery. Doctors said Bonnett would miss a year, but Neil was back in twelve weeks. Bonnett resumed racing full time in 1989.

He raced five times in 1990 before suffering the crash at Darlington, South Carolina, which left him with amnesia and dizziness. At that point Bonnett turned his energies to other activities, from trying to field his own NASCAR team to hosting a television show for TNN called "Winners". Finally, in 1992, Bonnett began testing cars for good friend and fellow NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, which led to a ride in Earnhardt's second car for the 1993 DieHard 500. Neil crashed hard, but escaped injury. However, the bug had bitten again, and Bonnett secured a ride for six races in the 1994 season.

A crash at Daytona in the very first practice session claimed his life, and the motorsports world again mourned the loss of one of their favorites. He is survived by his wife, Susan, and two children, David and Kristen.

Neil Bonnett, A Member Of The Alabama Gang...and the first Class of Inductees into the Talladega-Texaco Walk Of Fame.



 

           

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