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2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Joe Weatherly was also a successful motorcycle racer, winning three American Motorcycle Association championships before embarking on a NASCAR career. Weatherly and fellow 2015 inductees Fred Lorenzen, Wendell Scott, Rex White and Bill Elliott will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Jan. 30, 2015. Here are the Fast Facts on the two-time NASCAR Grand National Series champ.
- Joseph Herbert Weatherly was born May 29, 1922 in Norfolk, Virginia. He was a motorcycle enthusiast in high school, and after returning from duty in the Army began racing them. Between 1946 and 1950 Weatherly won three AMA titles, also winning the prestigious Laconia Classic 100 road race in 1948. Weatherly is a member of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame (1998).
- In 1950, Weatherly entered his first modified race and came home with a win; he went on to win 49 of 83 stock car races he entered that season. In 1952 and 1953, Weatherly amassed 101 wins in the NASCAR Modified division, taking the championship in 1953. He also won 12 times in the NASCAR Convertible Division between 1956 and 1959, finishing second in points in 1957.
- After racing sporadically in the series since 1952, Weatherly moved up to the NASCAR Grand National Division, now known as the Sprint Cup Series, for good in 1956. Racing for Schwam Motors, Pete DePaolo Engineering, Holman-Moody, Doc White, the Wood Brothers, Bud Moore Engineering and even Petty Enterprises, Weatherly often picked up rides with other teams when his primary owners were short on resources. Weatherly won his two Grand National titles in 1962 and 1963, driving primarily for Bud Moore Engineering.
- In 230 races in the Grand National Division between 1952 and 1964, Weatherly picked up 25 wins and 153 top 10 finishes, along with 18 poles. He was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998, and inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2009.
- Weatherly died of head injuries sustained in an accident at Riverside International Raceway on Jan. 19, 1964 during the fifth race of the 1964 season. Weatherly’s head went outside of his car and struck the retaining wall; he was not wearing a shoulder harness and did not have a window net installed on his car.
- Weatherly was considered one of the first “personalities” in NASCAR, stemming from his outrageous behavior on and off the track – he was known as “the Clown Prince of Racing.”
- In 1955, Weatherly and friend Paul Sawyer purchased the Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds, which later became Richmond International Raceway. After the pair bought a few other tracks in the Virginia and North Carolina areas, Sawyer bought Weatherly out in 1956.
- Find out more about Weatherly at www.littlejoeweatherly.com.