NASCAR Legend Cale Yarborough Passes Away At 84

Cale Yarborough NASCAR
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We lost one of the greats.

Three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, and one of the winningest drivers in the sport, Cale Yarborough has passed away at the age of 84.

A native of South Carolina, William Caleb “Cale” Yarborough grew up attending races at Darlington Raceway before lying about his age when he was 17 to compete in the 1957 Southern 500, at a time when the age limit to compete in NASCAR was 21.

Yarborough became known as a fiery competitor, and won three straight NASCAR Winston Cup championships between 1976-78. And he also managed to win 83 Cup Series races, tied for the sixth-most wins in the sport’s history and one of only seven drivers with more than 80 wins.

One of Yarborough’s most famous moments came during the 1979 Daytona 500, when he was racing for the lead with Donnie Allison when the two collided on the final lap. As their cars came to rest in the infield and Richard Petty went on to win the race, Yarborough and Allison began fighting on the backstretch – a moment that would forever become iconic in NASCAR history because it was the first ever race that was fully televised to a national audience.

After winning four Daytona 500s over his career, Yarborough retired in 1988, but became a team owner after he stepped out from behind the wheel. He ran Cale Yarborough Motorsports until 2000, fielding cars for names like Dale Jarrett, Dick Trickle, John Andretti and Jeremy Mayfield, before eventually selling the team. Yarborough was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2011.

Yarborough was married to his wife, Betty Jo Thigpen, in 1961, and leaves behind three daughters. Earlier this year, his daughter Kelley revealed that the NASCAR legend was suffering from a rare genetic disorder for which there was cure, and he was later moved to hospice in his home state of South Carolina.

Tributes to Yarborough began to pour in from the NASCAR community after his passing was announced:

Tough way to end 2023.

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