About // Ernie Irvan
Famed NASCAR winner Ernie Irvan began racing at the age of nine and later won the California Championship at age 15. His love for racing gradually grew into a full-time career as Ernie continued placing first in competitions. He has garnered 15 career NASCAR Winston Cup Victories and 22 career NASCAR Winston Cup pole positions.
In 1982, Ernie moved to Charlotte, North Carolina to pursue his love of racing. With only $900 to his name upon arrival in North Carolina, Ernie took on various jobs including working at Charlotte Motor Speedway and building racecars. He continued to race, winning nine races at Concord Speedway in the Late Model Series.
Ernie Irvan debuted at the Winston Cup on September 13, 1987 at Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway. Driving a Chevrolet Monte Carlo sponsored by Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet, Ernie finished 29th in the race. He went on to compete in four more races and placed in the Top 10 in his last race, winning $23,050. Ernie continued to compete and won his first Winston Cup race in the Busch 500 in 1990.
A devastating racing accident occurred in 1994 during a practice session in Michigan. Ernie crashed into the Turn Two wall at 170 miles per hour due to a deflated right front tire. Ernie suffered lung and brain injuries as well as given a 10 percent chance to live. However, Ernie proved resilient and just two months after the accident, flew to New York to accept the True Value Hard Charger Award from NASCAR . Ernie Irvan also went on to compete in at New Hampshire and Richmond in 1996,ending the season with 12 Top-5 and 16 Top-10 finishes.
In 1999, Ernie suffered through another crash in Michigan at a practice for the Busch Series race. After being diagnosed with a mild head injury and bruised lung, Ernie decided to retire from racing. Ernie's career accomplishments and highlights include 68 Top-5's, 124 Top-10's, 15 victories, 22 poles and over $11 million in earnings.
- 1993 Super Ford Magazine Driver of the Year
- 1994 True Value Hard Charger
- 1994 Mike Rich Memorial Award
- 1994 Maxwell House Spirit Award
- 1995 "Winston Cup Scene" Top Story of the Year
- 1995 Maxwell House Spirit Award
- 1995 Arete Award for Courage in Sports (Professional Division)
- 1996 Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharius Courage Award
- 1996 AP Parts Meet the Challenge Award
- 1998 Selected as one of NASCAR Top 50 Drivers
- 2001 Selected as a Torchbearer for 2002 Olympics
- 2002 Inductee into the Stock Car Hall of Fame
- 2002 Voted by MSNBC Top Ten Greatest Sports Comebacks of all time
- 15 career NASCAR Winston Cup victories
- 22 career NASCAR Winston Cup pole positions
- 68 Top-5's and 124 Top-10's and over $11 million in career earnings
- Made NASCAR Winston Cup debut at Richmond International Raceway on September 13, 1987
- First pole position came in 65th attempt at 1990 Valleydale Meats 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway
- First win came in 79th start at the 1990 Busch 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway
- Won the 1991 Daytona 500 driving for Morgan-McClure Motorsports
- Finished a career best fifth in Winston Cup driver points in 1991
- Suffered horrific crash at Michigan Speedway in 1994 while driving for Robert Yates Racing, made a miraculous recovery and returned to racing at the end of the 1995 season with two top-10 performances
- Led the most miles in the 1994 season despite competing in only 20 events
- Returned to victory lane in 1996 with wins at New Hampshire and Richmond