|Joseph "Joe" Weatherly|
May 29, 1922|
Norfolk, Virginia, United States
|Died||January 19, 1964
Riverside, California, United States
|Cause of death||Racing crash at Riverside International Raceway|
|Achievements||Grand National Series in wins in 1961 and 1962|
|Awards||Motorsports Hall of Fame of America (2009)|
|NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career|
|230 races run over 12 years|
|Best finish||1st (1962, 1963)|
|First race||1952 Southern 500 (Darlington)|
|Last race||1964 Motor Trend 500 (Riverside)|
|First win||1958 Nashville 200 (Nashville)|
|Last win||1963 untitled race (Hillsboro)|
|Statistics current as of April 15, 2013.|
Joseph Herbert "Joe" Weatherly (May 29, 1922 – January 19, 1964) was a two-time NASCAR championship driver. Weatherly was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2009 after winning NASCAR's Grand National (now Sprint Cup Series) championships in 1962 and 1963, three AMA Grand National Championships, and two NASCAR Modified championships.
Weatherly enjoyed behaving outrageously. He once took practice laps wearing a Peter Pan suit. Moreover, he frequently stayed out partying until the early hours, usually with fellow driver and good time buddy Curtis Turner. This behavior earned him the nickname "The Clown Prince of Racing". In 1956 at Raleigh, while racing in the convertible series, Weatherly's engine blew. With the help of Ralph Liguori pushing from behind, he displayed showmanship to the fullest extent by crossing the finish line while standing in a 'chariot of fire'.
He won three American Motorcycle Association (AMA) nationals between 1946 and 1950, including the prestigious Laconia Classic 100 Mile road race in 1948. In 1998 he was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
Weatherly began racing cars in 1950. "Little Joe" won the first modified event that he entered. He won 49 of the 83 car races that he entered that season. In 1952 he won the NASCAR Modified National crown, and he again won 49 of 83 car races that he entered. Weatherly won 52 more races in 1953, and won the Modified National crown again.
Weatherly had partial interest in what would later be called Richmond International Raceway from 1955 to 1956.
In 1959, Weatherly would score six finishes in the "top five" and ten finishes in the top ten. He would narrowly lose the 1959 Hickory 250 to Junior Johnson; being outlapped twice before the race was concluded.
Weatherly won NASCAR's Most Popular Driver Award in 1961.
Weatherly died on January 19, 1964 from head injuries sustained in a racing accident at the fifth race of the 1964 season at Riverside International Raceway. His head went outside the car and struck a retaining wall, killing him instantly. Weatherly was not wearing a shoulder harness, and did not have a window net installed on his vehicle, because he was afraid of being trapped in a burning car.
He is one of two reigning champions of what is now known as the Sprint Cup Series to die during a season as the defending champion (1992 Winston Cup champion Alan Kulwicki, who died in a plane crash during the 1993 season, is the other) and the only one of the two to die during a race.
This tragedy, combined with Richard Petty's crash at Darlington in 1970, eventually led NASCAR to mandate the window net seven years later in 1971. Window nets are used in most stockcar racing series to this day.
|NASCAR Grand National Champion