Harry Gant developed his driving skills in the 1950s through street racing on the country roads of Alexander County, North Carolina. He began his career driving a 1957 Chevrolet – that he’d built with his friends – on a dirt track in Hickory. Once a full-time driver, Gant used his skills to win the Hobby Class championship and then went on to win over 300 races, including the NASCAR Sportsman Series championship in 1972, 1973 and 1974.
The old dirt track in Hickory was eventually paved in 1967 and Harry Gant discovered his skills on the asphalt, winning his first race in the NASCAR Sportsman Series. From there he moved in to the Winston Cup Series and then started racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
In 1973, Gant finished 11th whilst driving the #90 Truxmore Industries Ford and then went on to make six starts and two top-ten finishes in the following 4 years. When 1979 cam round, Gant had decided to take this seriously, selling half of his construction business and becoming a full time driver.
Harry Grant’s Nascar Career
Harry Gant’s NASCAR career spanned twenty years and 474 races. He won 18, came in the top ten 208 times and had 17 pole positions. His best season came in 1991 when he earned the nickname ‘Mr. September’ after winning 4 consecutive cup races at Darlington, Richmond, Dover and Martinsville with two Busch races in September. This was his career high and it placed him in 4th position in the standings, along with 1 pole position, fifteen top 5s and seventeen top 10s. Gant also holds the record for being the oldest driver to get his first career win at the age of 42 and also the oldest driver to win a Cup race whilst he was 52.
Gant retired from racing in the Winston Cup and the Busch Series at the end of the 1994 season. He then only ran a partial season in the Craftsman Truck Series in 1996 whilst driving his own car, #33 Westview Capital Chevrolet C/K. He also substituted for Bill Elliott in the 1996 Winston Select and drove Bill’s car, the #94 McDonalds Ford Thunderbird.
Overall, Harry Gant had an impressive career and won the International Race of Champions in 1985. In 1991, he was the National Motorsports Press Association Driver of the Year and was eventually inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame in 2003. Three years later, he was named in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame but let’s not forget his induction into NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers of All Time in 1998.
His career wasn’t all about driving though and in 1983 Harry Grant appeared in the Burt Reynolds movie Stroker Ace as well as appearing Days of Thunder in a short interview.
Retirement has suited Gant as he works on 400 acre farm with 350 heads of cattle, not to mention the refurbishment projects on three rental properties and he also helps out in the family-run Gants Family Steakhouse. Alongside these activities, Gant is simply grateful to be enjoying time with his family.