There are a lot of race fans who can recite off a list of car owners. Names like Roger Penske, Andy Granatelli, maybe even Rick Hendrick, Jack Roush or The Wood Bothers. But only the diehard NASCAR fan probably knows the name of NASCAR owner legend Junie Donlavey.
Junie passed away last week at the age of 90; rather fitting as that was most often the car number he fielded for sixty different drivers over his fifty years in auto racing. Three drivers took Donlavey Fords to Rookie of the Year honors; including Jody Ridley and Ken Schrader.
If you want to have a perspective of Donlavey’s accomplishments go to a website like www.racingreference.info and look for the list of who’s who in the entry lists with the no. 90 next to their name. Guys like Tiny Lund, Joe Weatherly, Dick Brooks, LeeRoy Yarbrough, Ernie Irvan, Fred Lorenzen, Benny Parsons, Schrader and more.
In the 1960’s through the 90’s if you had talent and not a lot of money, Donlavey’s race team could be the springboard to bigger and better things. Jody Ridley was the only driver to every take Donlavey to Victory Lane. In 1991 Ridley lapped the entire field at Dover except for Bobby Allison on the way to that one and only victory for the no. 90 team.
Junie Donlavey didn’t measure his success by the number of wins or the prize money won. His success was measured in the accomplishments of the rising or falling stars that sat in the seat of his race cars.
Photo credit: Getty Images for NASCAR