Monday, January 5, 2009

Retiring Numbers In NASCAR

In my recent post Life In NASCAR Without Petty, a couple of fans suggested that NASCAR allow the 43 and 3 to become retired numbers, obviously meaning that no other driver nor team can use them. As Petty Enterprises is absorbed by GEM, the 43 will never be the same. The number use in NASCAR is complicated. NASCAR supposedly owns the numbers and leases them to car owners. However, car owners or drivers can copyright the number use in a certain font. Strange indeed.

One fan brought up the point that the NHL completely retired the number 99, which was Wayne Gretzky's number. Obviously, Gretzky did not play for every team, but he is arguably the greatest player to wear a hockey uniform. His influence on the sport prompted the league to recognize him by retiring the number. NASCAR could take a similar stance when it comes to certain numbers.

NASCAR teams only use single and double-digit numbers, usually ranging from 0 to 99, and of course 00 to 09. That is 110 numbers. In our lifetime, and even our kids lifetime, only a small handful of numbers will warrant retirement.

Here are some numbers that I feel should be retired by NASCAR.
3-Dale Earnhardt, Sr.
43-Richard Petty/Petty Enterprises
the 24 should be immediately retired whenever Jeff Gordon hangs up his helmet
the 21 should be retired whenever the Wood Brothers are forced out of the sport. Unfortunately, it appears as if the Wood Brothers are on the verge of fading out of NASCAR completely.

You can go back to the primitive days in NASCAR and find drivers that earned the right to have their number retired, such as the 42 for Lee Petty; however, that number has been used for years by other drivers, long after the thought of retiring numbers materialized.

Only numbers associated with a driver or team for more than a decade should be considered, as well as the influence and success of the driver or owner. I wouldn't start retiring numbers for drivers such as Mark Martin (6), or Terry Labonte (5), because they aren't necessarily iconic. Nevertheless, the 6 and the 5 could eventually be retired acknowledging car owners Jack Roush and Rick Hendrick. Realistically, only one or two numbers for drivers and owners per generation will merit retirement. Just a thought.

31 comments:

Road Dog Allman said...

The number 3 is a legend among men.The man made his mark in nascar.There is no man that should ever drive that car not even Jr.I followed him since 1980.I loved the man because he gave us his all.And that is more than what we get now.

Anonymous said...

No car number should ever be retired in any sport. If you want to honor a driver, great. Pretty soon you'll have Jimmy Fastcar, driver of the number 2,987,999 Chevrolet!

WT Sizemore said...

It would be ahame if any other driver or team wiuld use the #43, it will always be Richard Petty's number as the #3 will always be Dale Earnhart's

Anonymous said...

What would be a shame is if anyone actually paid attention. The 43 car has been driven by someone other than Richard Petty for approximately 20 odd years now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Get on board people Retire the 43 and the 3

Anonymous said...

I agree nascar should retire the numbers 43 and 3 as soon as possible.

Anonymous said...

Here I thought Richard Petty had been driving the 43 car for these last 20 0dd years. If he is not lets go ahead and retire that number.

Anonymous said...

If the #3 should be retired who's number would it be Earnhardt or Jr. Johnson just because you wern't there dosen't mean it didn't happen.

Jeremy Dunn said...

""Anonymous said...
No car number should ever be retired in any sport. If you want to honor a driver, great. Pretty soon you'll have Jimmy Fastcar, driver of the number 2,987,999 Chevrolet!""

Sure, that may be the case, in the year 18,333,220.

"Anonymous said...
What would be a shame is if anyone actually paid attention. The 43 car has been driven by someone other than Richard Petty for approximately 20 odd years now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Which is why the 43 would be retired as Richard Petty / Petty Enterprises, not just Richard Petty. Petty Enterprises represent the entire organization from the beginning to end.

"Anonymous said...
If the #3 should be retired who's number would it be Earnhardt or Jr. Johnson just because you wern't there dosen't mean it didn't happen."

With all due respect to Jr Johnson, Dale Earnhardt made the 3 famous, Jr Johnson is probably more associated with the 11 as a car owner. Which I would have retired the 11 back in 1995 when he left the sport

gwsp3 said...

I WAS there for both Junior and Dale. The 3 belongs to Dale hands down. While Junior was one of the top drivers, he was a much better owner/crew chief/mechanic.

Anonymous said...

Lets just retire the entire NASCAR system! It has failed to be relevant in the past several years!

Butch said...

Retire the 3 and 43. That way the Frances can't make money off them. Please, rent the numbers out? No wonder the "shoot-out is changing to the no-bodies of racing. What a monopoly. Retire the numbers and the color combinations they used.

Anonymous said...

I think anyone who has won 5 or more championships should have their number retired! If they have won all 5 in the same car number!A owner could have a number retired if they won 5 championships with a certain number, but had different drivers. This would mean that only the #3 and #43 should be retired, and the #24 only if he wins another Championship!

Anonymous said...

To me, you shouldn't retire any number. It's not like people will suddenly forget that Dale drove the 3, or Richard the 43. I mean, check out the list of drivers that drove the #3 for one team or another. http://www.racing-reference.info/rquery?id=3&trk=t0&series=W&cn=1

Dale Earnhardt drove that number because his car was owned by Childress, who picked that number when he started his team because of Junior Johnson. Johnson picked that number because of Ray Fox. So I mean, it's nice to have a history of the number, to see for instance in the case of the #3, how it came about, and why guys picked that number. Same as Tony picking the 14, there is history there. So it allows the people today to learn about those things, find out who Ray Fox and Cotton Owens were. Don't retire numbers. Nobody will forget the 21 is the Wood Brothers and the 24 is Jeff Gordon.

Anonymous said...

The #3 and the #43 are the car numbers that were driven by the two greatest and influential drivers in the history of NASCAR. These two men deserve to have their numbers retired as a tribute to them and their influences, in making NASCAR what it is today and what it will be tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

I am not in favor of retiring any number in Nascar. I feel that the best way to honor the drivers who made those numbers famous is to put those numbers on a car, and get that car into victory lane as often as possible. That's the whole point isn't it? I think GEM getting the 43 is a good thing. It'll probably get the car into victory lane again where it belongs. I also think that it's been long enough now, and our mourning period is over, so the 3 should be out there again in order to find victory lane. It's really the only way to properly honor those drivers who made those cars famous.

Anonymous said...

What a stupid idea, NASCAR is changing too much already, never retired #'s and never should.

Anonymous said...

I think only sewage hauling trucks should be allowed to use #3, and garbage trucks for the #43 and the short yellow bus for the #55

Jeremy Dunn said...

"Anonymous said...
Lets just retire the entire NASCAR system! It has failed to be relevant in the past several years!"

Which is why you are reading NASCAR articles and blogs. Why don't we retire the NASCAR bashing, the sport is here to stay.

Anonymous said...

My opinion is they should never retire any number but never again let anyone use a car with 3 that is black or a blue and what ever that color is red or pink 43.

Anonymous said...

No number should ever be retired in NASCAR. Even the #3. People treat that number like it came from God and that Earnhardt was a god.

He wasn't. He was, however, a decent, but very dirty, race car drive.

jimmccoy22 said...

I get where you're coming from, because retiring numbers has been a common practice throughout sports, but I disagree.
We don't need a number to remember Dale or Petty, their accomplishments and legend live on already without ceasing to use their numbers.
Besides, we do have a finite number to work with as it is. Until yesterday, I considered a real shame that A-Rod couldn;t use his favorite #3 because the number was retired (it was Babe Ruth's).
In New Yok, and with the Boston Celtics, you have all these "retired" numbers and no one remembers why these guys were significant, because their legacy failed to live on. Retiring the number failed to help.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter. The world is going to end on 12/21/12.

Anonymous said...

naSCar is different than other sports and NO NUMBER SHOULD BE RETIRED!!! I'm a big Petty fan, but the numbers shouldn't be retired. Many great drivers drove Cotten Owens number 3 LONG before Earnhardt ever got in it, and he started driving the 2, should that be reitired too! Don't think so, that's what makes the sport great! All the different drivers. People are to short sided from a driver who didn't care about safety, especially of others, who he regurlarly spun out into the wall. Then on top of that he was blocking which kept Sterling Marlin in his Coors Light Dodge from winning the 500! Yes he was a great driver but most certainly NOT the best, top ten is all!!! Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, David Pearson, Cale Yarboro, Tim Richmond, Davey Allison, Jeff Gordon, Darrel Waltrip, Jimmy Johnson, and Alan Culwiki! I'm sure these guys deserve it too, then were do you stop! DO NOT RETIRE NUMBERS IN naSCar, at least not until we get back to actual STOCK CARS!!! That's what makes a good driver, getting the best out of a car!

Anonymous said...

Dear road dog allman, if that's the case earnhardt never should have drove fireball roberts' car!!!!!!!!!!!! Among other great drivers to drive Cotten Owens(car owner) number 3!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

ONLY ONLY retire the 3 and 43. They were the most iconic drivers in NASCAR and deserve to be enshrined and respected by retiring their numbers. Also: Jeff Gordon forever!!!

Buraglia said...

So few drivers have left a mark in this sport. But the one that have should be honoured at all race tracks by being retired and enshrined. Numbers 3 and 43 with possibly 24 later on. That's 3 out of 100 numbers (0-99). I believe the fans and Nascar can cope without these numbers in circulation.

jspencer7734 said...

Because of the way Dale died on track is the main reason they should never have anyone in the 3. Even though petty made the 43 so big he made the decision to put john Andretti in that car which killed any chance of that car # being relative. Only the 3 should be retired and maybe the 28. But the 28 simply because 2 of the drivers of that number have died either on track or at the track and Ernie almost died in it.
But I'm a Gordon fan through and through so I really dont care what they do. Of course we all know that nobody will ever use the 3 again just because it will always be Earnhardts # and when he died the # did as well.

Anonymous said...

I think everyone in their right mind in the Nascar nation will honor Earnhardt and if numbers are retired it should only be to those who died persuing the career they loved and that is for anyone who dies in an accident on the track (race related) not just those who were blessed with the talent. Their are many who have more heart than some of the greatest.

Anonymous said...

"King" Richard... that says it all. I don't admire many men in this world today, especially not "celebrities", but Richard Petty is one man I look up to. Number 43 is synonymous with Richard Petty and it should be retired out of respect for the man. Anyone else using it will always be in his shadow anyway.

Anonymous said...

You just don't watch it prick...nascar is a family tradition in many families...there's nothing like centerfield at the racetrack