In 1982, Jack Ingram became the first champion of what is now the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The two-time series champion and 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee passed away Friday at the age of 84.
Ingram made his name at the New Asheville Speedway and in the Late Model Sportsman Division, the Xfinity Series’ predecessor. He won the Sportsman championship from 1972 to 1974 and continued to race at the level when it transitioned into national series status in 1982 as the Budweiser Late Model Sportsman Series. He won a series-high seven races to become the inaugural champion, and repeated with a five-win campaign in 1985. Nicknamed “Iron Man”, his thirty-one career victories were the most in series history until Mark Martin surpassed him in 1997, and he currently ranks sixth all time. Five of those wins came consecutively at South Boston Speedway, including a clean sweep of all four rounds in 1986.
Prior to the Sportsman/Xfinity Series, he made nineteen starts in the now-Cup Series between 1965 and 1968, 1972, and 1981. Ingram scored four top tens at the highest tier with a best finish of second at Hickory in 1967.
He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2007 and the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2014.
“There is no better way to describe Jack Ingram than ‘Iron Man.’,” said NASCAR chairman Jim France. “Jack was a fixture at short tracks across the Southeast most days of the week, racing anywhere and everywhere. He dominated the Late Model Sportsman division like few others. He set the bar for excellence in the Xfinity Series as its Most Popular Driver in 1982 and champion in 1985. Jack was an old-school racer and his work on his own car helped propel him to Victory Lane hundreds of times.
“Of our current 58 NASCAR Hall of Fame members, he is one of only six that was elected based on his career and contributions in the grassroots level of our sport. On behalf of the France family and NASCAR, I offer my condolences to the friends and family of NASCAR Hall of Famer Jack Ingram.”