HomeSportsNASCAR: Jack Ingram, Hall of Famer Who Won 5 Career Championships, Dies at 84

NASCAR: Jack Ingram, Hall of Famer Who Won 5 Career Championships, Dies at 84

by Jennifer Shea
Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images

NASCAR great Jack Ingram has died at age 84.

No cause of death was given. The five-time NASCAR championship winner had been hospitalized this May, the Associated Press reported.

Ingram was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2014. He had racked up 317 NASCAR career wins by the time he retired in 1991, according to NASCAR’s website.

“NASCAR has lost a true racer’s racer. Jack’s legacy and incredible accomplishments and contributions in NASCAR will live in our minds, our hearts and our archives at the NASCAR Hall of Fame forever,” Hall of Fame director Winston Kelley said.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Was ‘Relentless’

Ingram earned the nickname “Iron Man” during the 1970s for his indefatigable racing style. Up until Kyle Busch came along, Ingram was considered the best driver in the history of NASCAR’s second-tier series. He won three consecutive championships in the early 1970s and kept racing when the series converted into what is now known as the Xfinity Series.

“He was known unilaterally as ‘The Iron Man’ for his relentless, hard-driving style… along with the incredible schedule he kept crisscrossing the country racing wherever there was a checkered flag to be captured,” Kelley told the Associated Press. “Ingram owned, built and worked on the cars himself and although his talent could have allowed him to compete in the premier series of NASCAR, he chose to stay in the series he knew and loved best.”

When the Busch Series underwent a reformatting, Ingram, who had been competing in about 80 events per year, said the new series “was like taking a holiday” with its 29 events. And he went on to set a series record of seven wins, clinching the 1982 title.

Ingram Fell in Love with Racing Early

Before he became a racecar driver, Ingram was a plumber and pipefitter. But he caught the racing bug at a young age. Ingram snuck into his first race when he was 14 years old. Fascinated by the racecars, he and a friend had ridden their bikes to Asheville-Weaverville Speedway. Ingram later said he “slipped under the fence” to catch the race.

“Banjo Matthews and Cotton Owens, Curtis Turner, Joe Weatherly, Joe Lee Johnson… it was a modified race,” Ingram later recalled. “That was the most fascinating thing I’d ever seen.”

As an adult, Ingram did best on short tracks, but he also eked out victories at difficult tracks like Darlington Raceway and the Milwaukee Mile. One time, Ingram ran six short-track races in five states over a five-day period.

“He was the driver, crew chief, car owner and chief bottle washer on his team for most of his career,” the late Jim Hunter, a longtime NASCAR official who died in 2010, once said of Ingram. “He was a no-nonsense, get-in-your-face, hard-nosed, fender-scraping racer who took no prisoners on the track.”