The eNASCAR iRacing Pro-Invitational Series holds its second race of the season Wednesday night at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
Daniel Suárez is ready to take on the virtual highbanks with a special paint scheme and number honoring 88-year-old racing legend Red Farmer, an original member of the “Alabama Gang.”
Suárez’s car will not only carry a paint scheme honoring Farmer, but the Trackhouse Racing team is switching its car number from 99 to the 97 that Farmer has championed for years.
Farmer started competing in the late 1940s. He is the first racer elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame via the Pioneer Ballot, which recognizes individuals who began their motorsports careers more than 60 years ago. A member of the famed “Alabama Gang,” Farmer won more than 750 races, including many on the dirt tracks of Alabama. Originally hailing from Hialeah, Florida, Farmer relocated to Alabama early in his career, where he become a respected member of the “Alabama Gang” of racers led by Hall of Famer Bobby Allison (a 2011 Hall of Fame inductee) and Bobby’s brother, Donnie Allison.
Farmer is a 2021 inductee to the NASCAR Hall of Fame joining Dale Earnhardt, Jr., the late Mike Stefanik and Landmark Award recipient Ralph Seagraves. The class is expected to be part of an induction ceremony postponed by Covid-19 until early 2022.
Farmer is now a member of 10 halls of fame. But 2020 and 2021 hasn’t been easy for Farmer.
He successfully fought off chronic kidney issues plus Covid-19 and in March a tornado damaged his Indian Springs, Ala. home and trailer that housed his race car. An outpouring from the NASCAR community made the incident more bearable.
Farmer returned to the dirt track for the first time last Saturday night and plans to participate in the races at the dirt track this weekend in Talladega.
Farmer was a four-time NASCAR champion, taking titles in two different NASCAR divisions, including the NASCAR Late Model Sportsman Division, where he won three consecutive championships from 1969-71, and the Modified Division, which he captured in 1956. Farmer also served as the NASCAR Busch Series (now Xfinity Series) crew chief for Hall of Famer Davey Allison (2019) and won an ARCA race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1988 driving a car owned by Davey Allison.
Farmer obtained his first NASCAR license in early 1953. He bought a car off a Miami car lot, and drove it north to Daytona to compete on the beach course in February that year. He finished 45th out of 57 cars in his No. 48 Hudson Hornet. He has had a NASCAR license every year since and at age 88 continues to race on local short tracks.
Farmer was named one of the 50 Greatest Drivers in NASCAR history in 1998. He was a member of the first Class of Inductees into the Talladega Walk Of Fame.
FS1 will broadcast the Talladega iRace at 7 p.m. EDT.
Daniel Suárez, driver of the No. 97 Red Farmer Chevrolet
Why honor Red Farmer?
Suárez: “It’s important we honor the people who built this sport. Red is one of the men all of us owe for making NASCAR what it is today. We have so many new fans and I hope when they see this paint scheme they will learn about Red Farmer and appreciate his career.”
Are you ready for another iRace?
Suárez: “Talladega will be a lot easier than Bristol was for me. I’m thinking Wednesday night will be pretty wild. Talladega is always wild whether it’s real or in iRacing.”
Red Farmer, 2021 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee
Are you looking forward to your Hall of Fame induction in early 2022?
“Oh yes. I kept telling everyone I want to get this induction done while I’m still on the green side of the grass. I told them they better set aside 30 minutes for me up on stage because I have 74 years of racing I want to bring up. I have a lot of stories to tell.”
Did you think you would ever be honored in an iRace?
“No, I never even knew what iRacing was until NASCAR was shut down and they started running iRaces on television last year. It was so realistic. The way the cars react, changing the chassis setup and the way the track changes. It was amazing to me how far and real they have come with those things.”
What do you think of iRacing?
“It takes a lot of practice. I can tell you that. I tried to do that two or three weeks ago and ran four different tracks including Talladega. I couldn’t really do it. I guess it has a lot to do with the machine you have. I could see where it takes a lot of practice to be able to run one of those things. I felt like I was a horse with blinders on. I could only look straight ahead. I am used to driving by the seat of your pants. You could look left or right and see if somebody is beside you and you feel the track more or less. With those things I felt like I had blinders on. All I could do was straight ahead and that was uncomfortable for me.”
— Trackhouse Racing —