JAYSKI'S
ERNIE IRVAN SITE

THE ERNIE STORY
and CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

 

Suffered massive injuries in practice-session crash at Michigan International Speedway Aug. 20, 1994. He trailed Dale Earnhardt by just 27 points at that time. Was hospitalized several weeks and made what many considered a miraculous recovery after being given a 10-percent chance of survival immediately after crash. Amazingly, he won True Value Hard Charger Award as driver who led most miles of season. He came back in 1995 after a series of operations to correct vision problems and a droopy left eye-lid. He as won two Twin-125 qualifying races in 1994 and 1996 at Daytona.

Ernie's Daytona 500 Win: Led the the final six laps and emerged victorious in the 33rd Annual Daytona 500. The race ended under caution as most of the top contenders--Dale Earnhardt, Kyle Petty, Davey Allison, Rusty Wallace and Darrell Waltrip--were involved in late race accidents. After starting from the outside pole, Ernie took the lead for good on lap 195 and held off Sterling Marlin and Joe Ruttman in the run back to the caution, which came out on lap 199. Ernie averaged 148.148mph in securing victory in the 1991 Daytona 500.(from the 1997 Daytona Media Fact Book)

Started racing in 1974. First Winston Cup race, Sep. 13, 1987 at Richmond, Va. Runner-up to Ken Bouchard for 1988 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year. First win came in 79th start, 1990 Busch 500 at Bristol. First pole position came in 65th attempt, 1990 Valleydale Meats 500 at Bristol. Best fifth in Winston Cup points came in the 1991 season. The 1996 Daytona 500 was his 200th start.

Played tennis and football in high school while racing as a hobby. Credits new crew chief, Marc Reno with giving him his biggest break. Believe it or not Dale Earnhardt was his first sponsor, the #56 Dale Earnhardt Chevy Monte Carlo(I have a picture of it on my Ernie Pic Page). Inspired by his father, who helped him build his first race car. They won Stockton 99 Speedway track championship together in 1977. When he first moved to Charlotte, he did welding job on grandstands at Charlotte Motor Speedway and working in Ken Schraders shop as a mechanic. Still considers Richard Petty best ever in Winston Cup racing. Enjoys watching Dirty Harry and Goldie Hawn movies and listening to Oldies music. Owns '67 SS 396 Chevelle and '37 Chevy Hot Rod. Owns 45-foot Newell Coach that travels to many races. Owns Navado Chieftan Panther and Newell Coach motor home. Favorite sports figure is Magic Johnson.

ERNIE's CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

  • Started racing go-carts at age 9 in California from 1967 thru 1974.
  • Started racing stock cars at the age of 16 and won one of five races in 1975.
  • Won the 1977 Stockton 99 Speedway (California) track championship at the age of 18, winning 15 of 23 races.
  • Moved to Charlotte, NC in 1982 to be closer to the Winston Cup action.
  • Ran local short tracks in North Carolina, 1982-1986, winning various events at Concord.
  • During 1982-1986 did odd jobs, like welding seats at Charlotte Motor Speedway and working at Kenny Schrader's shop.
  • 1st WC start at Richmond, 9/13/87, started 20th and finished 29th.
  • Runner up to Ken Bouchard for Rookie of the Year in 1988.
  • One ARCA win, in November, 1989 at Atlanta.
  • 1st WC Pole at Bristol, 4/8/90 in career start 65.
  • 1st WC win came at Bristol, 8/25/90 in career start 79.
  • Won 1991 Daytona 500.
  • Last win was at Brooklyn, Michigan, 6/15/97, his 15th career win.
  • 15 WC wins; 37th on all-time list.
  • 11 WC Superspeedway wins; tied for 19th on all-time list
  • 21 Winston Cup Poles; tied for 27th on all-time list.
  • Three Busch series wins(Talladega, Rockingham and Watkins Glen) and five Busch series poles.
  • Career Winston Cup Points Standings: 1991(5th), 1993(6th), 1990(9th), 1996(10th), 1992(11th), 1994(11th-missed 11 races due to injury), 1997(14th), 1989(22nd), 1988(26th), 1995(only ran three races).

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