Father’s Day gets us thinking about dads. Writing about cars gets us thinking about racing.
So it was only a matter of time before we started thinking about dads in racing. And think about it, we did.
Who are the best father-son (or in the case of the Forces, the best father-daughter) tandems or groups in motorsports?
We thought of 10 that we think are pretty spectacular. You can try to pick on the list if you want (and we’re pretty sure you will), but these families have the hardware to warrant our admiration.
We mined our memory banks for great NHRA, NASCAR, Formula One, and American open wheel racing families. And here’s what we came up with:
The Andretti Family
Mario Andretti – Won the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500, and the Formula One World Championship. He’s the only guy to ever do that. Total stud.
Michael Andretti – Has 42 wins to his credit and won the CART IndyCar World Series championship in 1991. Owns Andretti Autosport in the IndyCar Series.
Jeff Andretti – Named Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year and CART Rookie of the Year in 1991. He survived a horrific crash at the 1992 Indy 500 that hampered his career.
John Andretti – Nephew of Mario, and cousin of Michael and Jeff, John Andretti has spent most of his career driving NASCAR Sprint Cup stock cars, but has also driven in the Indy 500, finishing as high as fifth, as well as running CART and driving a Top Fuel dragster in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing series in 1993.
The Petty Family
Richard Petty – Nicknamed “The King,” Petty won the NASCAR championship seven times, including 200 career wins—the most ever in NASCAR. He is considered by many to be the finest stock car driver of all time.
Lee Petty – Richard’s father. Lee Petty won the first Daytona 500 in 1959 and was a three-time NASCAR champion.
Kyle Petty – Richard’s son. Kyle never shared the on-track success of his father or grandfather, but has been enormously popular because of the Petty name and because he’s one of the finest people in motorsports.
Adam Petty – Adam was tragically killed at age 19 when he crashed during a practice for a NASCAR Nationwide event at the New Hampshire International Speedway. He was the first known fourth-generation driver in American motorsports. And we’re sorry we didn’t get to see more of him.
The Jarrett Family
Ned Jarrett – A two-time NASCAR champion. Ned was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998. He won 50 times during his 13-year career.
Dale Jarrett – Ned’s son. Dale Jarrett won 32 NASCAR races in 24 years and was the series champion in 1999. Like his father, he was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers. He won the Daytona 500 three times.
The Force Family
John Force – Force’s career numbers defy reason. He won the NHRA Funny Car championship 15 times as a driver, and 17 times as an owner over the past 22 years. As of this writing, he has been to the final round 215 times and has captured 134 Wallys. Dude’s unreal.
Ashley Force-Hood – Ashley is the 29-year-old daughter of John. She has a Funny Car victory to her credit, becoming the first woman to win in that class. Ashley stepped away from the cockpit in 2011 to focus on her young family as well as various projects at John Force Entertainment.
Brittany Force – It’s still unclear whether Brittany will pursue racing full time, or head to the classroom to work with students with her degree in education. Brittany pilots Top Fuel and Top Alcohol dragsters. And looks pretty good doing it.
Courtney Force – Because life tends to be a math equation, fate had to balance out John’s fairytale existence with three gorgeous daughters to worry about. Courtney is the youngest. She is a full-time NHRA Funny Car driver. Just shy of her 24th birthday, Courtney already has a Wally to her credit.
Robert Hight – This is a stretch, but worth mentioning. Hight is John’s son-in-law and is married to John’s oldest daughter and the half-sister of Ashley, Brittany, and Courtney—Adria Hight. He has 27 wins in 42 final rounds and was the NHRA Funny Car champion in 2009.
The Foyt Family
A.J. Foyt – A.J. “The King of Indy” Foyt is one bad dude. And we mean that in a good way. A member of virtually every motorsports hall of fame known to man, Foyt’s resumé includes four Indy 500 wins, a Daytona 500 win, and victories at the 24 Hours of Daytona, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Foyt is a two-time IROC
champion and is the all-time leader in USAC racing wins with 159 trips to Victory Lane. And if you cross him, he’s liable to punch you in your stupid face.
Larry Foyt – A.J.’s youngest son. He had relatively brief stints in NASCAR and IndyCar. He is the Team Director at A.J. Foyt Racing.
A.J. Foyt IV – A.J.’s grandson. In 2003, he started the Indy 500 as a 19-year-old—the youngest ever to do so. The younger Foyt was active in both NASCAR’s Nationwide Series as well as the IndyCar series between 2003-2009. He is the father of A.J. Foyt V.
The Earnhardt Family
Dale Earnhardt – Known as “The Intimidator,” Dale Earnhardt might be the only NASCAR driver to challenge Richard Petty’s claim to the greatest-ever throne and popularity among racing fans. Earnhardt’s seven championships are tied with Petty for the most all time. He won the Daytona 500 in 1998. He’s a four-time IROC champion and is in every motorsports hall of fame in which he’s eligible. Earnhardt died in what appeared to be a routine accident on the final turn of the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. His tragic passing left a massive hole in the collective hearts of NASCAR fans everywhere and ushered in a new era of more stringent safety standards in NASCAR-sanctioned races.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Dale Sr.’s son. One of NASCAR’s most-popular drivers for the past decade, Junior went on a tear early in his career, dominating restrictor-plate races at Daytona and Talladega. He won the Daytona 500 in 2004, has 19 Sprint Cup wins to his credit (including a drought-ending Father’s Day victory at Michigan International Speedway), and 23 Nationwide Series wins, including two series championships in 1998 and 1999. He is currently No. 2 in the Sprint Cup point standings.
Ralph Lee Earnhardt – Ralph is Dale Sr.’s father, and Junior’s grandfather. Ralph is credited for being the first car builder and driver to understand and use tire stagger in his race setup. He won the NASCAR Sportsman Championship in 1956. He was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.
Kerry Earnhardt – Dale Sr.’s eldest son and Junior’s half brother. Kerry competed in NASCAR’s truck, Nationwide, and Sprint Cup series over his professional racing career. Kerry is the father of Jeffrey.
Jeffrey Earnhardt – Kerry’s son and Dale Sr.’s grandson. Jeffrey will turn 23 this month. Thus far, Jeffrey has competed in 10 races in NASCAR’s truck series and six races in the Nationwide Series. Given his bloodlines, he seems worth keeping an eye on.
The Rahal Family
Bobby Rahal – Bobby is a three-time CART champion, winner of the 1986 Indy 500 as a driver, and winner of the 2004 Indy 500 as a team owner. He has 24 career open-wheel wins, and competed in Formula One and NASCAR, as well.
Graham Rahal – Graham is the 23-year-old son of Bobby. He has one win and two poles in his young racing career in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
The Allison Family
Bobby Allison – Bobby Allison was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers, was IROC champion in 1980, the Sprint Cup (formerly Winston Cup) Series champion in 1983, and won the Daytona 500 in 1988. He has 84 Sprint Cup wins on the books, and 446 Top 10 finishes. He is the father of the late Davey Allison and Clifford Allison.
Donnie Allison – Bobby’s brother, and Davey’s uncle. Donnie was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2009. He finished in the top 10 in 115 of his 242 career races.
Davey Allison – In a career shortened far too early, Davey Allison did plenty in his 14-year run to earn a spot on NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers list. Davey died in 1993, a day after sustaining injuries in a helicopter accident at Talladega Superspeedway. Davey won the Daytona 500 in 1992—one of 19 Sprint Cup Series victories, and went out on top as IROC champion in 1993.
The Johnson Family
Warren Johnson – The first NHRA Pro Stock driver to exceed 200 miles per hour, Johnson has six NHRA and two IHRA Pro Stock series championships to his credit. He has collected 97 Wallys in 151 final round appearances.
Kurt Johnson – Warren’s son. Kurt was NHRA Rookie of the Year in 1993. He was the first Pro Stock driver ever to run a sub-7-second quarter-mile. Kurt owns 40 Wallys from 78 final round appearances.
And there you have it—10 tire-smoking, white-knucked, steel-nerved, Wally and checkered-flag capturing families who have made their living in Victory Lane.
In almost every instance, there’s a father at the center of the story.
So, to my dad, and your dad, the dads on this list, and every other dad out there this fine Father’s Day—Happy Father’s Day, gents.
Also, we know you’re sitting there all bent because we left someone off this list. Maybe the Kalittas. Or the Ambroses. Or the Penskes. Or the Bakers. Or the Thompsons.
Don’t just stew about it! Tell us why we’re dumb in the comments below!