Ed Negre, gave Dale Earnhardt first break in NASCAR, dies

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Ed Negre, who owned the first car that the late Dale Earnhardt ever raced in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, passed away Wednesday in a hospice in Longview, Wash., according to a report in the Charlotte Observer.

Negre was 86.

Competing primarily on a part-time basis, Negre raced in 338 events in NASCAR’s Grand National and Winston Cup series from 1955 through 1979. While he never won a race in the series, he had four top-five and 26 top-10 finishes.

His best season was 1971, when he competed in 43 of 48 races, earned two top-10 finishes and wound up 12th in the final Grand National Series standings.

His career-best finish was fourth at Portland Speedway (Oregon) in 1956.

According to Tom Higgins, retired NASCAR writer at The Observer,

Negre is perhaps best known for providing a car to a young, shy, long-haired driver from Kannapolis named Earnhardt for his first Cup Series start, at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 25, 1975, in the World 600.

Earnhardt finished 22nd that day, Negre was 32nd.

Earnhardt continued on to a storied career, winning seven championships to tie Richard Petty’s record before he was killed in a last-lap crash during the 2001 Daytona 500.

Negre always took pride in what he called a ‘small part’ in helping Earnhardt get started, saying he sensed Earnhardt had what it took to make it big.”

Negre moved from North Carolina to Washington state after the 1979 racing season and opened a trucking firm.

He is survived by wife Faye. The couple were married 59 years. Also surviving are four daughters and a son, Norman, who is head of fabrication for Stewart-Haas Racing, while Norman’s son Scott (Ed’s grandson) is a team engineer at SHR.

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