Winston Cup News
EARNHARDT, JR. ENTERS
SEPT. RICHMOND CUP RACE IN DEI BUD CAR; HIS #8 VISIT REKINDLES MANY RACING MEMORIES FOR
RICHMOND, VA (April 9, 1999)
Budweiser and Dale Earnhardt, Inc. officials announced in St.
Louis today that defending NASCAR Busch Series Champion, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will enter
Richmond International Raceway's September 11 Winston Cup EXIDE NASCAR SELECT BATTERIES
400 in a Budweiser liveried car #8 fielded by DEI. That announcement evoked instant
memories from Richmond track president, Paul Sawyer.
Should the 3rd generation NASCAR star make the
Richmond Winston Cup field, it will mark the 54th time the number 8 has competed in a
Richmond Winston Cup race. Ironically, 1999 marks the 54th season of racing at the
Richmond site, dating to 1946 perhaps a favorable omen for 7-time Champion, Dale
Earnhardt's son in his RIR Winston Cup debut.
"How I remember that #8," reminisced Sawyer. "I think everyone knows the
Earnhardt family history of that car number. Of course, Dale, Jr.'s grandfather, Ralph
Earnhardt made the number famous on Carolinas dirt tracks enroute to his 1956 NASCAR
Sportsman Division National Championship. Then along came Dale with the same number on his
"But, what I remember most about #8," said Norfolk, Virginia native Sawyer,
"Is that my buddy, best friend and business partner, Joe Weatherly ran the #8 on his
cars. He won two NASCAR Winston Cup Championships for car owner Bud Moore carrying
What Sawyer didn't say, is that Weatherly, another Norfolk native, and Spartanburg, S.C.'s
Moore combined to give the #8 far and away the most famous rides at Richmond of any
Winston Cup car to ever carry that number and 13 different drivers have appeared in 53
Richmond Winston Cup races to date with the #8 festooned on their doors and roof.
Of course Weatherly may have had an advantage over the other #8 drivers at Richmond. He
was AMA motorcycle National Champion and NASCAR Modified Division National champion who
had already won at the old half-mile dirt Richmond layout on two wheels and four before he
ever made his Richmond Winston Cup debut.
In just 5 Richmond Winston Cup appearances together from 1961-1963, Weatherly, racing's
"Clown Prince", and the affable Moore scored 3 wins, 4 top-5's and a pole
position with their #8 mounts. The 3 wins came in Pontiacs and the lone pole in a Mercury.
Weatherly's September 8, 1963 Richmond pole marked his last visit to Paul Sawyer's track
prior to the superstar's untimely death in Moore's #8 at Riverside, California in January,
1964. Moore would win many more races in a storied career as an owner, but his cars would
never again bear #8. Ironically, in another twist of fate, Earnhardt, Jr.'s famous dad
would score his breakthrough Darlington and Talladega superspeedway wins driving Bud Moore
owned cars to victory lane.
The very first Winston Cup #8 to appear at Richmond was a 1951 Hudson Hornet driven by
Chesapeake, Ohio's Gene Comstock on April 19, 1953 in Richmond's first Cup race. Kelso,
Washington's Ed Negre started the most Richmond races in #8, a total of 18 from 1968-1978.
Midland, Texas driver, Bobby Hillin, Jr. is 2nd with 12 Winston Cup #8 Richmond starts. In
fact, Hillin has a #8 car entered at Richmond on May 14, but it is his Busch Series Grand
National entry in the HARDEE'S 250.
The last time Winston Cup car #8 competed at Richmond was in September 1997, when Hut
Stricklin campaigned the Stavolas brothers Ford. In between, such drivers as Billy Carden,
Elmo Langley, Larry Manning, Dick May, Rick Wilson, Dick Trickle, Sterling Marlin and
current Winston Cup points leader, Jeff Burton of South Boston, Virginia have all driven
#8 at Richmond.
Young Earnhardt, Jr. is following in some famous footsteps when he climbs aboard Winston
Cup #8. His sleek, fireproof, state-of-the-art driving shoes may differ significantly from
Weatherly's black & white saddle oxfords, but the winner of Richmond's September 1998
AUTOLITE PLATINUM 250 Busch Series race hopes his Richmond results in Winston Cup #8 will
parallel Weatherly's success at Paul Sawyer's Richmond venue. You can bet Sawyer will be
watching the young hotshoe closely.
Winston Cup Series
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