Junie Donlavey Passes Away

Junie Donlavey

Junie Donlavey, who passed away Monday, talks to Dick Brooks in the NASCAR garage in 1976 at Talladega Superspeedway. (Photo: ISC Archives)


Junie Donlavey, known as much for his smile and kindness as his decades as a NASCAR Sprint Cup owner, died Monday. He was 90.

Donlavey first entered a car in a NASCAR race in 1950 at Martinsville Speedway with Runt Harris as the driver. Donlavey entered a car in 1952 for a race and returned to NASCAR in 1957. He entered cars through 1961 before another break. He returned again in 1965 and entered cars through 2002 before retiring.

Four Hall of Fame drivers ran at least one race for Donlavey, including two elected to the 2015 class - Joe Weatherly and Fred Lorenzen. Other Hall of Famers who drove a race for Donlavey were David Pearson and Buck Baker.

Donlavey also had three drivers win rookie of the year honors driving for him - Bill Dennis (1970), Jody Ridley (1980) and Ken Schrader (1985). Dennis drove only three races with Donlavey in 1970 but Ridley and Schrader drove the full season with him in those rookie campaigns.

Ridley gave Donlavey his only Cup victory, winning at Dover in 1981.

Others who drove for Donlavey include Benny Parsons, Tiny Lund, Dick Brooks, Harry Gant, Ricky Rudd, Buddy Baker, Dick Trickle, Morgan Shepherd, Mike Wallace and Rick Mast.  

"The only thing you really need to know about Junie Donlavey is that he was probably the most well-liked person ever in the sport of NASCAR,'' said Hall of Famer Glen Wood. "He was a good friend of the Wood Brothers ... one of our very best friends in the sport.

"The thing I will always remember about Junie is that he was never mad or upset. He took everything in stride. He just enjoyed being around the sport and being around people. You'd see him in the garage, and he'd always be talking with someone.''

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