Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Harry Gant Born In Taylorsville, North Carolina - January 10, 1940

January 10, 1940
Harry Gant
Born in Taylorsville, North Carolina, USA.
Better known as "Handsome Harry", is a retired driver best known for driving the No. 33 Skoal Bandit car on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit during the 1980s and 1990s.

He was known as "Handsome Harry Gant" due to his Hollywood-style good looks, the "Bandit" after his longtime sponsor Skoal Bandit, "Mr. September" after winning four consecutive Winston Cup races and two Busch Series races in September 1991, and "High Groove Harry" after the high line he often took through the corner. A humble man, Gant often stated that he was a good race car driver, but a great carpenter.

The North Carolina native began his racing career at the old dirt track in Hickory. He built a hobby class car with his friends, and took turns behind the wheel. Gant became the full-time driver and won the track championship. Hickory Speedway was paved in 1967 after Ned Jarrett became the promoter. Gant excelled on the asphalt, and won his first race in the sportsman division.

He won over 300 races with the car builder and crew chief Kenneth H. Sigmon, in the NASCAR Sportsman on his way to winning three national championships, in 1972, 1973, and 1974. He finished second three times in the NASCAR Late Model Sportsman in 1969, 1976, and 1977. He finished in the top 10 of the final points standing in several other years.

He sold half of his construction business in 1979 upon deciding to race full-time in the Winston Cup Series.

He holds the record as the oldest driver ever to win a Winston Cup/Nextel Cup/Sprint Cup race (52 years, 219 days) and as the oldest driver ever to collect his first career Cup victory (42 years and 105 days). He is the second oldest driver to win in the Nationwide Series after Dick Trickle. In his career he has collected 18 Cup wins and one runner-up finish in 1984 and third in 1981 and 1985, 21 Busch Series wins, and three runner-up finishes in the Busch Series championship (69, 76, and 77). In 1985 won the IROC title. He won four races in a row in 1991 tying a "new era" (1972–present) record and came in second in the fifth race. His five Winston Cup and five Busch Grand National wins in 1991 made him the only driver, at that time, to post the most wins in both series in the same year, although he tied with Davey Allison with five Cup wins.

Gant retired from Winston Cup and Busch Series racing at the end of the 1994 season, and later ran a partial season in the Craftsman Truck Series in 1996, driving his own No. 33 Westview Capital Chevrolet C/K. Gant also substituted for the injured Bill Elliott in the 1996 Winston Select, driving Elliott's No. 94 McDonald's Ford Thunderbird.

He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame on April 27, 2006.

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