Junie Donlavey, notable for fielding NASCAR teams from the sport’s early days all the way into the 2000s, has passed away at the age of 90 in Richmond, Virginia. NBC affiliate WWBT is relaying confirmation of his death from family members.
Donlavey began his tenure as a team owner in 1950, when he fielded a car for Runt Harris at Martinsville Speedway. Harris finished 19th in that race, the first in what would be a span of 863 races for Donlavey’s team in what’s now known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Throughout that time, Donlavey only claimed one win as an owner via Jody Ridley’s triumph in the 1981 Mason-Dixon 500 at Dover International Speedway.
But his team employed the services of many great talents including – but not limited to – Joe Weatherly, Benny Parsons, Fred Lorenzen, David Pearson, Buck Baker, Buddy Baker, Ricky Rudd, Ken Schrader, and Dick Trickle.
Primarily known for helping young drivers cut their teeth in the sport, Donlavey’s No. 90 was driven to Rookie of the Year honors three times (Bill Dennis, 1970; Ridley, 1980; Schrader, 1985).
In 2007, five years after his team ran its final Cup race, he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
While Donlavey only got to visit Victory Lane once in his ownership career, he held a high level of respect from his peers in the NASCAR garage. For his part, he believed that his drivers did as much for him as he did for them.
“For me, it was always about running with good people,” he said in a 1998 interview with the Indianapolis Star. “There are so many in this sport and that’s the reason I’ve stayed in it so long.
“I think we’ve been able to help people, but I know they helped us. I learned so much from the Pearsons and the Bakers and all the great drivers who drove for me.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with Donlavey’s family and friends at this time…