Former NASCAR team owner Donlavey dies at 90

 

The Sports Network

Richmond, VA (SportsNetwork.com) - Junie Donlavey, a team owner in NASCAR's premier series for more than 50 years, passed away on Monday night in his hometown of Richmond. He was 90.

According to a report from Richmond television station WWBT, Donlavey suffered from Alzheimer's disease. Members of Donlavey's family told NBC12 (WWBT) that he "thought it would be appropriate if he passed away at age 90, the same number famously featured on his stock cars."

Born Wesley Christian Donlavey on April 8, 1924, he fielded his first entry in 1950 at Martinsville. Runt Harris finished the race 19th in a Donlavey-owned Oldsmobile.

Donlavey never strayed far from his Richmond home but was very well known for giving drivers a chance to compete at NASCAR's highest level. In all, 60 different drivers competed in Cup races for Donlavey Racing. The team's last race was in November 2002 at Rockingham, North Carolina, where Hermie Sadler finished 41st.

Among those who drove Donlavey Racing's No. 90 car at one point in their Cup careers included NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson as well as 2015 NASCAR HofF inductees Fred Lorenzen and Joe Weatherly.

Dick Brooks, Bill Dennis, Charlie Glotzbach, Robby Gordon, Ernie Irvan, Bobby Isaac, Tiny Lund, Benny Parsons, Ricky Rudd, Johnny Rutherford, Ken Schrader, Morgan Shepherd and Dick Trickle also drove for Donlavey Racing.

Donlavey's lone victory in 863 Cup Series races came on May 17, 1981 at Dover where Jody Ridley took the checkered flag, finishing 22 seconds ahead of his closest competitor, Bobby Allison. Ridley finished fifth in the point standings that year, the best ranking in the team's history.

Donlavey was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2007.

NASCAR released a statement on the passing of Donlavey on Tuesday.

"With Junie Donlavey's passing this week, NASCAR lost a treasure, a man who personified NASCAR's proud past," the statement read. "With 863 starts as a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car owner, he won over millions of fans through his 50-plus years in our sport.

"The list of men who drove for him during his career is impressive, including two who won NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year honors - Ken Schrader [1985] and Jody Ridley [1980]. Others included Dick Brooks, Ricky Rudd, Dick Trickle and Benny Parsons. All contributed to Junie's lasting legacy in our sport.

"NASCAR offers sincere condolences to Junie's family and friends at this difficult time."

Read more Sprint Cup stories from the Miami Herald

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