Born: March 27, 1939
Home: Timmonsville, SC
NASCAR Hall of Fame
It is said that no NASCAR champion ever drove their car harder than Cale Yarborough. The fiery native of Timmonsville, SC won consecutive championships (1976, 1977 and 1978) and had 83 career victories ranking him 5th all time. He won the Daytona 500 four times and won 70 poles, including a record 12 at Daytona.
For some races during the 1965 and ’66 seasons, Cale drove the #27 Banjo Matthews Ford Galaxie. On September 6, 1965, Yarborough was involved in one of the most famous race car crashes which occurred during the Southern 500 at Darlington Motor Speedway.
Cale was battling Sam McQuagg for 1st place in the last few laps of the race when they got tied up. Cale’s 1965 #27 Galaxie went sailing over the guard rail wall, crashing over 30 feet below at the bottom of the track embankment. It’s estimated Cale’s #27 1965 Galaxie was traveling at over 150 mph when it went airborne.
“Well, I felt ‘bout like those astronauts being up in space for eight days…felt like I was up there eight days too! It all happened so fast! When I finally came to a stop, I looked down and saw grass. I knew I was in trouble cause I know there’s no grass on the Darlington track!”
Miraculously, Cale was not hurt and this wreck footage was used as an introduction to ABC’s Wide World of Sports for many years.
Other interesting facts about Cale Yarborough: • Cale was the first NASCAR driver to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated • Cale drove race cars for some of the best race teams in the sport…such as Holman Moody, the Wood Brothers, Banjo Matthews, Junior Johnson and others. • Cale Yarborough’s fight with Donnie and Bobby Allison, after Donnie and Cale wrecked battling for the lead on the final lap of the live TV broadcast of the 1979 Daytona 500, is credited with starting the mass growth of the sport of NASCAR.
On September 6, 1965 during the Southern 500 at Darlington Motor Speedway, Cale Yarborough was involved in one of the most spectacular crashes ever to be caught on camera. Although Cale won the Southern 500 race five times, he felt the Darlington track, nicknamed “The Track Too Tough to Tame” and “The Lady in Black,” was “one of the toughest places anybody ever raced on.”