Famous Racing Numbers and their Drivers

For some drivers, the number on the side of their car is almost as critical a part of their identity as their name. In many cases the drivers become known almost exclusively by their number, which becomes an iconic part of their car, and stands for their legacy and their talent as a driver. Let’s take a look at some of these most famous numbers in auto racing and talk for a moment about some of the great drivers who have sported them.

11 – The number 11 has been worn by some of the most famous drivers in NASCAR history, including several hall-of-fame drivers such as Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, and Darrell Waltrip. This was also the number that open-wheel racing legend Mario Andretti wore when he made the jump from Indy Car to NASCAR and won the 1967 Daytona 500. Today, this number is worn by one of the perennial Sprint Cup contenders Denny Hamlin, who is making great strides to cement himself as yet another hall-of-famer to sport the number. Overall, the number 11 has won eight championships in NASCAR, making it the most decorated number in

43 – Unlike the number 11, the number 43 is most famous for only one driver: Richard Petty. The man NASCAR fans know as “The King” has won more races in the number 43 than any other single driver has in any other number. In fact, no number has had more success in any number than Petty had in 43. While he isn’t the only driver ever to have this number painted on the side, Richard Petty piloted the 43 car to 192 of its 199 wins and all seven of its championships. Perhaps his greatest achievement and one that will most likely never fall: Petty won 10 consecutive races during the 1967 season.

3 – If you ask any NASCAR fan about the number 3, one name will come up: Dale Earnhardt Sr. The man who came to be known as “The Intimidator” became a legend in the sport, winning 76 races for a total of seven championships, tying him for the most all-time with Richard Petty. In perhaps one of the biggest tragedies ever to strike auto racing, Earnhardt was killed in a last-lap crash of the 2001 Daytona 500. To this day, you can still see flags donning the white number 3 on a black background at nearly every NASCAR track, as his legend lives on.

24 – When car owner Rick Hendrick needed a number somewhere close to the two he already owned at the time, 5 and 25, he picked out 24 and handed it to a hotshot young driver by the name of Jeff Gordon. Gordon went on to be one of the most dominant racers of the last 20 years, winning all 93 of the races the number has ever won. Gordon recently retired from NASCAR as the third-winningest driver of all time, behind only Richard Petty and David Pearson.

48 – Gordon’s teammate at Hendrick Motorsports Jimmie Johnson is still an active driver in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series, and has already made a name for himself, winning 77 races so far to lead all active drivers in NASCAR’s biggest circuit. Johnson’s most famous accomplishment came in the years 2006-2011 when he won an unprecedented five straight championships, a feat that has not been matched in NASCAR history.

27 – The most legendary number in Formula 1 racing, the number last won a championship in 1990 when Ayrton Senna won the series with McLaren. However, the number more recently has become famous for driver Gilles Villeneuve, who was killed in a tragic qualifying accident at the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix. Today, the number is worn by Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg.

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