Ned Jarrett, Known as "Gentleman" Ned Jarrett, had a pleasant disposition and smooth demeanor. Yet he was an intense competitor and one of the best to put two hands on the steering wheel of a NASCAR Grand National stock car.
Ned was born in Newton, N.C. on October 12, 1932, one of four children. Jarrett was introduced to cars early in life, his father let him drive the family car to church on Sunday mornings when he was nine years old. Ned started working for his father in the Lumber business by the time he was 17, but racing was what he wanted.
Ned is the father of Glenn, who did some stock car racing but now covers cable television as a race broadcaster. His other son Dale, just earned his first NASCAR championship in 1999 and is currently battling Jeff Gordon and Ricky Rudd for the 2001 championship. Ned also has a daughter Patti, who before becoming a mom, also worked in racing. Patti is married to Jimmy Maker, crew chief for Bobby Labonte.
Ned drove in his first race in 1952 at Hickory, NC, driving a Sportsman Ford finished tenth. This did not go over well with his parents. His father told him he could work on cars but not drive them. Once Jarrett's driver was sick for one race and he ask Ned to fill in for him. Ned used the drivers name and came in second in that race. That worked out so smooth that Ned went and drove in a few more races under an assumed name, but was finally caught by his father. His father told him if he was going to drive to at least use his own name.
Jarrett came in second driving in the Sportsman series in 1956 and by 1959 he was looking to pursue a career in Grand National racing. He purchased a Junior Johnson Ford for $2,000. , which he waited until the bank closed to write the check then went out and ran two races , won them both and covered the cost of his car.
In 1960 he won five races and took the championship over Rex White in 1961. He was among the top five drivers in 22 races and missed being among the top ten drivers only 12 times out of 46 races and had only one win.
In 1964, Jarrett joined team owner Bobby Long and with the support of Ford won 15 times but lost the championship to Richard Petty. Jarrett picked up his first superspeedway win at Atlanta.
In 1965, Jarrett became a super star when he won 13 races and another Grand National championship. He placed among the top five in 42 of 54 races he ran. He also won the Southern 500 at Darlington, S.C.
In '66 Jarrett was in the run for another championship when Ford announced that they were withdrawing from NASCAR. With that Jarrett decided that it was time to retire at the young age of 34. Jarrett left racing and spent time dealing in Real Estate and business ventures before coming back to racing as a broadcaster.
Ned Jarrett has been elected to eight different Hall of Fames, all listed below.
International Motorsports Hall of Fame
National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame
North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame
Oceanside Rotary Club Stock Car Hall of Fame
National Auto Racing Hall of Fame
Jacksonville, Florida Speedway Hall of Fame
American Auto Race Writers & Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame
Motorsports Hall of Fame of America