So, people are having debates over who's the greatest NASCAR driver. I want to broaden this out, so for this post, I'm going to post my top 10 drivers, followed by 5 youngsters and 5 ones who didn't make it. If you want to submit yours, then it's fine. If you want to 'correct' me, then I don't care. I will explain why each driver is where they are too, which would help if you haven't heard of them. I hope you enjoy!
Top 10 (no order):
The touring car master. Won the BTCC in 2 separate decades in any car, come rain or shine, and he was always competitive. If you could keep up with Andy Rouse, you'd hit your prime. He could win anywhere in anything, and that's what made him great. He even finished 3rd in the BTCC in 1991, 16 years after his first championship.
No the one-trick pony everyone thinks he is. He wasn't only the single seater hero everyone remembers him as, but a sportscar winner, a BTCC champion, and of course, he happened to be very good at rallying. And his Indy 500 win is arguably the best in the history of the event.
A bit of a shocker, I know, bu 'Our Nige' has achieved an amazing level of success. Before taking the 1992 F1 crown, he was the driver with the most wins with no championships. After 1992, he says that he was "quite happy to hand that accolade back to Sir Stirling Moss." And lets not forget that he was not only quick in touring cars and sportscars, but he moved to CART in 1993 and won the championship. He was called by Williams as one of the deceased Ayrton Senna's replacements, and won from pole at Adelaide.
I'm not a die hard rallyist, but with 9 consecutive WRC titles to his name, he has cememnted his name in motorsports history. At the FFSA GT finale at Paul Ricard, he took 2 podiums in a McLaren MP4 GT3 car. He's retired from full-time rallying, but that won't stop him having a go at WTCC, and with a factory Citroen drive, don't be suprised if he wins.
No explanation needed. The greatest single seater driver ever, bar none.
Certainly not a one-trick pony! The most versatile driver with success. Daytona 500 win, tick. Indy 500 win, tick. CART championship, tick. F1WC, tick. IROC championship, tick. And, at the tender age of 56, he achieved another class podium, this time in the P1 class, at the 1991 Le Mans 24 Hours race.
Another shocker, but this man put Penske on the map. He achieved success in NASCAR, Can-Am, IROC, and took an F1 podium in a bad car. He is still the fastest man ever to have lapped the Talladega oval. Tragically he died due to complications following a crash in F1 practice at Zeltweg.
What do you mean you've never heard of him???? He is the greatest ever driver in the BHCC (British Hillclimb Championship), where Andy Priaulx and Ken Wharton, among others, started. He retired from top level in 2010, but his success in amazing. He won rounds in a bad car in the early 00s, before he got a good car. The Gould GR55B he drove gave him 4 championships and 99 more wins. In 2005 he finished 1st or 2nd in every round bar 2, in a 30 round season. He went to the Bathurst Hillclimb in 2006 for the first time, and beat the hill record. He became the first man ever to complete a sub-23 second run at the legendary Shelsley Walsh hillclimb, and beat that time (and Scott Moran's) later that year, with an outright record. At Craigantlet, 2010, he became the only driver to achieve 100 wins in the series, and retired with 103 to his name.
Look at the stats. Third in AAA Stock Cars in 1953. But he only competed in 1 race. He won from pole. He also won the 1953 Indy 500 from 19th on the grid, before getting his second, from pole, in 1954. He was leading in 1955 when he was caught up in a massive crash that tragically killed him. But his name has been cemented in racing history.
"Who?" I hear you cry! Well, Win Percy, other than retiring from class podiums at both Le Mans he entered (1986, 1987) - one in a horrific accident - was a touring car great. He has won at Bathurst (and is still the most successful non-Antipodean driver at the event), he won the Spa 24 Horus event in 1989, when it was a touring car event, and he is a triple BTCC champion. Many regard him as the greatest touring car driver ever.
But he's an idiot! Yes. He is. But his pace is still amazing, and he can look after the Pirelli's like Perez. He improvises every lap, yet still has incredible pace. People claim Alonso was outperforming a poor car, but who beat him at Spain? Who was leading him at Singapore? Both times in a worse car. And if you think that he shouldn't be here, what's Senna famous for? What's Gilles Villenueve famous for? What's Lewis Hamilton famous for? What was the pre-2011 Vettel like? The same.
Young Irishman Aaron Smith is probably the best wet weather touring car driver around right now, and that's just his first full year. His debut at Knockhill in 2011 was stunning, running in the points in all 3 races, sadly only collecting them in 2 after an accident that wasn't his fault. But in 2012, he outqualified experienced teammate Mat Jackson in an outdated car a couple of times, and even won at a wet Brands Hatch, beating the original wet weather master, 2012 Gordon Shedden, in a factory Honda! He charged from the back of a 23 car grid at Rockingham to 6th in a car that was past it's prime, and led the majority of the following race, only to be beaten by the factory cars and Andy Jordan, who you'll see below. He's also brilliant in the dry too.
Known as the Gilles Villenueve of touring cars, Andy Jordan took his first pole in his second year in BTCC (2009). By this time he had a factory Vauxhall drive, but was still the NO.3 DRIVER! In 2010, he took his first win in the closest ever season at Croft, and followed it up in the last race of the year at Brands Hatch. In 2011 he scored the most points of any driver at Donington Park, following 3 out of 3 podiums, including a win, and despite running the slowest of all 4 cars in a train at Snetterton, 2012, he got past a battling Matt Neal and Jason Plato to take what would be his only win of 2012, despite 9 podiums. His pole position lap at a damp Thruxton is seen by many as the greatest qualifying lap in touring car history, and he claimed the 2012 Independents championship as well.
Some say 16 is too young to judge a driver, but, seeing as his lap times around a drenched Brands Hatch match his ultra quick dry laps, giving Jenson Button a master class, I think so. Sadly, due to a part time 750MC F4 season, he didn't win the championship in 2012. He came second. He also took pole in his only Formula Ford Eurocup outing of 2012, at Zandvoort, he took pole, and was leading until he saved what would've been a reenactment of Luke Williams' flip earlier in the day, escaping with no damage. If his Indy dreams come true, then F1 fans will miss him, but Will Power won't!
Won the Turismo Carrtera series, featuring drivers such as Matías Rossi and Guillermo Ortelli, among others, in his second ever year. Yes, he probably won't move out of Argentina, but with his junior record (3rd in TC Pista in first year, won following year) seems to be a tin-top version of Nico Hulkenburg. Will probably achieve similar success in TC2000 soon.
5 that didn't make it:
Ayrton Senna da Silva
If not for his racecraft, or rather, the lack of it, he would've easily made the top 10, but Stefan Bellof was better in the wet. And he crashed whilst trying to keep up with Martin Brundle in European F3 at Silverstone in the same car (but Brundle had a worse team) as Brundle was that quick.
Arguably the greatest driver on the touring car grid. Changed things for independent entries in 1999, as, at the second race of the season at Donington Park, despite stalling in the pits, he won from pole, claiming the first ever independents win in a supertourers race. The grid featured 12 highly capable factory drivers, such as James Thompson, Yvan Muller, Rickard Rydell and Alain Menu. He took the Independent title that year, and that was the first of his 7 (4 Independent, 3 overall) titles.
Don't laugh. He was the modern day version of Senna, except this time he had racecraft. And a load of it. But, potentially due to his huge love of rallying, his massive 2011 accident put him off the F1 grid, and he probably won't return. Not because he hasn't recovered though. Because he's already got a part time ERC schdule, following really impressive rally results at the back half of 2012, beating guys like Craig Breen in the process. Kubica was leading this French rally by over 4 minutes. The same rally was competed by Jari-Matti Latvala in 2011, who finished 3rd. Wait for 2013...
David "Swede" Savage
A tragic story. Lost his life following a dodgy blood transfusion 33 days after his huge Indy 500 crash, where he crashed out of the lead, but was fully conscious and only broke a leg in the horrific accident that followed. Before his death though, he achieved a NASCAR Grand National podium, many Trans-Am wins, and a win at Phoenix in Champ Cars in 1970 that saw him hailed as a future great. That was his only win, sadly. He also suffered severe head injuries (worse injuries than sustained in his 'fatal' accident) during the 1971 Questor Grand Prix, having another huge crash. If he didn't crash at Indy in 1973, he could've won. Who knows what he would've achieved.
Richard "The King" Petty
200 wins in NASCAR's top division. It would've been 199 if not for Doug Heveron, and Cale Yarborough would have 84. But, despite this, it makes him the greatest driver ever at turning left in a fast car??? Sorry mate, but you're no Jim Clark.
What??!! What do you mean, no NASCAR?????!!!!!! I mean no NASCAR.
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