NASCAR & Auto Racing

NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Jack Ingram at a glance

Born: Dec. 28, 1931, Asheville.

Family: Wife Aline; daughters Cynthia, Ingrid; son Robbie (deceased).

Career highlights: Competing in up to 60 NASCAR Late Model Sportsman races per season from Maine to Florida, Ingram won three straight series championships, 1972-74. ... He did this while maintaining his cars out of an Asheville shop, often towing them to and from tracks himself. ... His seemingly tireless work and determination brought a nickname, “Iron Man,” which endures to this day. ... Ingram didn’t slow down when NASCAR upgraded the division in 1982 to a series sponsored by Budweiser. He again took the circuit’s season-long championship and was named the series’ most popular driver. ... Stout and bulldog-tough, Ingram added another title in 1985 for five overall. ... Ingram obtained his first national sponsorship in 1984 when U.S. Tobacco began backing his team through its Skoal brand. He continued with the company until calling it a career late in 1991. ... At the time of his retirement Ingram held the record for Busch Series victories with 31. He still ranks fifth in wins in what is now the Nationwide Series. ... Counting Late Model triumphs, Ingram, who was especially strong on the short tracks, won 286 races. ... He is the first driver from the Late Model Division/Busch Series to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Tom Higgins’ reflections

Hall of Fame voter and former Observer motorsports writer Tom Higgins remembers Jack Ingram:

I first saw him: On Sept. 10, 1965, at Hickory Speedway, then a dirt track, in the Buddy Shuman Memorial 250, a race for what’s now Sprint Cup Series cars.

My favorite memory of him: Ingram’s absolute, unabashed pride when Skoal announced during a news conference at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1984 that it would begin sponsoring his team. It was a rare moment – a 53-year-old driver winning a major sponsor.

Most memorable quote: It wasn’t a quote at all, but a reaction.

Up until ’84, when Skoal brought its backing and a green/white paint scheme to Ingram’s No. 11 cars, he had driven machines that were a drab brown.

Rumor had it that Ingram used that color because gallons of brown paint had been given him by Asheville’s maintenance department, which was discontinuing its use.

At the end of the joyous Ingram/Skoal news conference in Atlanta, I asked, “Jack, what are you going to do with all that ugly ol’ brown paint?” The press box erupted in laughter.

Stunned, Ingram was speechless for several seconds before shaking his head and breaking into a grin. He departed without answering.