Another North Carolina-born driver, Benny Parsons gained recognition after winning the 1973 NASCAR Winston Cup champion. That year, he had 21 top-ten finishes and 15 top-five finishes out of 28 races that season. After retiring in 1988, he became a top broadcaster and analyst in NASCAR for TBS, ABC, ESPN, NBC, and TNT.
In 2017, Parsons was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Parsons had his fair share of health problems during the last few years of his life. Even though he had stopped smoking back in the late ’70s, it seems that it had long-lasting effects on his breathing. Sadly, he passed in 2007 from lung cancer.
Ricky “The Rooster” Rudd- 788 Consecutive Starts
Virginia-born Ricky Rudd got his racing start as a teenager in go-karts and motocross. He made his NASCAR debut in 1975 at North Carolina Speedway. Two years later, he became a full-time driver. His 32-year career consisted of 23 wins at the NASCAR Cup Series. He retired in 2006 and was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
One of Ricky Rudd’s most memorable NASCAR moments was in 1988 at the Budweiser At The Glen. He was able to pass the finish line before Rusty Wallace by inching closer to him although Wallace had gained speed in the final laps.
Cale Yarborough- Three Cup Championships
Cale Yarborough was born in 1939 in South Carolina to a tobacco farmer and cotton gin operator. Before entering the world of racing, Yarborough was a football athlete. In 1957, he made his racing debut at the Southern 500. He quickly became one of the top racers, eventually winning 83 races, tying him with Jimmie Johnson.
Most notable in his career, were his three consecutive Cup championships from 1976-1978. Jimmie Johnson would eventually beat that and add two more consecutive wins. Yarborough was one of the best race car drivers of his time. He was inducted in the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2011. Another big honor was getting a part of South Carolina Highway 403 re-named after him to Cale Yarborough Highway.
Terry Labonte- Two Cup Championships
Terry Labonte was a NASCAR racer for 27 years during which he won two Cup championships and 22 races. He set the record for the most years in between two Cup championship wins. Labonte was born into a family of racers, but unlike his two brothers, Bobby and Justin, Terry became one of the most popular drivers of his time.
In 1984, Terry starred as a guest in an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard, playing a pit crew member. He also starred as himself in the Burt Reynolds movie "Stroker Ace" the year prior. He also had some appearances in commercials for Denny’s.
Bill Elliot- Winston Million Winner
Georgia-born William Clyde Elliot, AKA Bill Elliot, AKA “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville,” was one of the most popular NASCAR drivers of his time, a reputation which was solidified by him winning NASCAR’s Most Popular Driving Award 16 times. After winning a 16th time, he withdrew his name in order to give a chance to a different driver to win the honor.
All good things come to an end. But, for Bill Elliot, his legacy lives on. His popularity stretches so far that in Georgia, October 8 is Bill Elliot Day and there is a stretch of highway in his county renamed after him. During his time as a NASCAR racer, Elliot won 55 pole positions, 44 races, and one Cup championship.