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10 Greatest Examples of Facial Hair in NASCAR History

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10. Paul Menard’s ‘Nard Burns

To those in the ranks of the Paul Menard Empire, they are known as “‘Nard Burns.” How awesome are they? Legend has it they’re easily worth two-tenths at a road course and 10 horsepower at a plate track. Wolverine wishes he could grow chops so grand. With the flavor savor to boot, it’s a wonder he has but one Sprint Cup Series victory — the 2011 Brickyard 400 — but at least it’s one on par with the load-bearing chops.

by Vito Pugliese

9. LeeRoy Yarbrough: “The Presley”

Not many fans today know who LeeRoy Yarbrough is. Had it not been for what may have been post-concussive injuries that were later explained away as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Yarbrough would have undoubtedly won a championship or two. In 1969, he won the Daytona 500 by making up 11 seconds in 10 laps. He then won at Charlotte, lapping the field in the process, and passed David Pearson on the last lap to win the Southern 500, making him the first winner of NASCAR’s triple crown. In the process, he grew a pair of era-appropriate sideburns to match his Elvis-esque hair.

by Vito Pugliese

8. Richard Petty’s Fu Manchu

Seven Daytona 500 victories? Check. Seven Cup championships? Check. 200 wins? Check. Ray Bans and a Fu Manchu? Check and Check. “The King” now sports a more demure lip appendage, but back in the early ’70s, his facial hair was as cutting edge as the wing on the back of his Plymouth Superbird.

by Vito Pugliese

7. Mark Martin’s Copstache

People typically recognize Mark Martin for his commitment to physical fitness, nutrition and a buzz cut. However, there was a time back in the early 1980s when Martin sported some facial flash as well. He was running his own team at just 23 years of age and needed to look a little older as he was trying to find sponsorship. (Just what the hell was an Apache Stove anyway?) This photo is from his ASA days, although he went full-on ’stache from 1981-87 when he when made his way back to NASCAR.

by Vito Pugliese

6. Jeff Gordon: “The Wonderstache”

I am still amazed that this was ever allowed to pass any sort of check and balance within any marketing department of any company, anywhere. This look came about when NASCAR was still kind of an underground sport, just beginning to pique the public’s interest. With all of the PR preparation and attention to detail for driver, car and crew you could imagine, Jeff Gordon was pre-packaged for primetime. Those in charge took a look at that beautiful flowing mullet and fuzzy muzzy and said, “Oh yeah, good to go … that’s the prototypical image for the racecar driver of the next millennium.” Gordon flirted with bringing it back for about a week when the 2012 Chase started, but then had to do a shoot with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so away it went. That, or he was scaring the children.

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by Vito Pugliese

5. Ernie Irvan, Pre-Goatee

It’s kind of hard not to like Ernie Irvan. The survivor of two near-death accidents within a five-year period, he remains true to what got him paid in the first place: that big cookie duster. Irvan wore an eye patch after nearly losing his sight – and life – in a crash during practice at Michigan in 1994. Couple the patch with the ’stache that he’s sported since he was welding up grandstands at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and he’s even that much more of a certifiable badass. There should be little question why Dale Earnhardt Sr. tapped him to drive his Busch car, which helped jumpstart Irvan’s career.

by Vito Pugliese

4. Tom Giacchi’s 19-month growth

Carl Edwards’ motor coach driver, Tom Giacchi, thought it would be fun to help motivate Edwards to win a race by refusing to shave until he won. That was all well and good, but the joke was on Tom, as he had to wait through an agonizing streak of 52 races from November 2005 to June 2007. Edwards is currently in the midst of another winless drought, having last gone to Victory Lane in March 2011. This year had to be a trying one for Giacchi if the bet still stands. The way the 99 team has been running, he might be waiting until Vegas 2013. At least it’s almost winter, Tom.

by Vito Pugliese

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Chin Muffler

When a man makes the conscious decision to grow a beard, it says a couple of things about him. Namely, “I am a liberal college professor,” or “I have given up.” It is the hygienic equivalent of wearing sweatpants on your face – all day long – in public. Whether he was channeling his inner Grizzly Adams, Joaquin Phoenix or Billy Gibbons, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s appearance matched his demeanor as his beard sprouted forth. How you can drive with that thing suffocating you in the middle of a sticky August evening in Bristol, Tenn., is beyond me. Junior shaved off the scruff this year, threw his lid on backwards and finished the regular season second in points. As the Chase has started, he let his hunting beard grow in, and the performance has fallen off a bit. Time to once again spin that hat around — and pour out a few Budweisers for good measure.

by Vito Pugliese

2. Tim Richmond’s ’80s Greatness

Tim Richmond was a microcosm of the 1980s. “Sophisticatedly Trashy” – a hint of mullet, acres of taco meat sprouting forth from his fire suit topped with a totally legitimate mustache. Not one of these new hipster-style ones, either; a straight up, I-am-growing-a-mustache-and-peeling-out-in-an-IROC-and-picking-up-a-ton-of-chicks mustache. Tim loved women and they loved him. I mean what’s not like — the guy lived on a boat and got trophies made of Miller High Life cans. If only our sport had more like him … long since gone but not soon forgotten.

by Vito Pugliese

1. Dale Earnhardt: “Iron Stache”

You know why he was called “The Intimidator”? That’s right: Because you’d be crazy to piss off a guy with a mustache straight out of the OK Corral. Mix in the Gargoyles and the Man-In-Black persona, and you have a seven-time-championship-worthy marketing machine that was about five years ahead of the souvenir curve. Earnhardt had a rather nasty wreck at Talladega in 1997 that singed his mustache and then had to go scuba diving or something, so he shaved it (clue us in on that again, Mikey). Of course, he looked downright weird without it. So back it came with a vengeance just in time for his Daytona 500 win in 1998. The next collectible idea for Teresa: “Earnhardt Chia Pet: Mustache Edition.”

by Vito Pugliese