Late NASCAR owner Junie Donlavey receives press association quarterly Spirit Award


The National Motorsports Press Association announced this week that longtime NASCAR team owner, the late Junie Donlavey, has been named the association’s Spirit Award recipient for the third quarter of 2014.

The NMPA Spirit Award is designed to recognize character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports.

A Virginia native, Donlavey, who passed away in June at 90 years old, had a can-do attitude that kept him in the racing game for more than four decades.

Even though his teams won only one race (Jody Ridley, 1981, Dover, Del.) in a span from 1950 until 2002, that can-do attitude took Donlavey teams to 863 starts, 60 top-five and 218 top-10 finishes.

His teams also finished in the top-10 in points in nine different seasons.

Among drivers that Donlavey gave early career breaks to were two-time Cup champ Joe Weatherly, Jimmy Hensley, Harry Gant, Robby Gordon, Ken Schrader and Dick Trickle.

Donlavey was inducted into the NMPA Hall of Fame in 2009.

Others receiving votes for the third quarter NMPA Spirit Award were Sprint Cup drivers Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Kyle Larson.

Prior winners for the first two quarters of 2014 were the late Lynda Petty and Martin Truex Jr.

There will be one more recipient of the Spirit Award for the fourth quarter of the year, and then an overall winner will be chosen in a vote of NMPA members.

Disclosure: the writer of this story is a member of the NMPA Board of Directors.

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