Short Track Racer Larry Phillips On NASCAR's “75 Greatest Drivers”

nascar 75th
Bullring Racer Larry Phillips NASCAR's 75 GreatestNASCAR

Nowhere was it said that NASCAR’s list of its “75 Greatest Drivers” would include only stars from its Cup, Xfinity, and Craftsman Truck series. In fact, the prestigious list also includes championship-winning drivers from the Whelen Modified Tour.

But grass-root fans will be delighted to learn that weekly-track legend the late Larry Phillips has been named to the “75 Greatest Drivers” list. After naming its 50 greatest drivers in its 50th anniversary season of 1995, NASCAR is adding 25 more “greatest” in recognition of its 75th anniversary. The 75 drivers or their representatives will be honored on Goodyear 400 weekend of May 13-14 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

A long-time superstar in the bullrings of the Midwest, Phillips won the 1989, 1991, 1992, 1995, and 1996 national championships in what is now the Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series. According to his NASCAR Hall of Fame nomination: “The legend of Larry Phillips cannot be measured in wins alone. That’s because nobody can say for sure how many victories there were. He raced here, there, and everywhere on dirt and asphalt, and in places where records-keeping wasn’t always a priority.”

unknown — 1996 larry phillips of springfield, mo won his fifth nascar weekly racing seriels national championship to go along with titles earned in 1989, 1991, 1992 and 1995 during his career, phillips also scored seven nascar weekly racing series regional championships and 13 track championships as well photo by isc images archives via getty images
Phillips is credited with 226 wins of the 308 feature races he ran, but some estimates go much higher.NASCAR

Maybe not a priority, but officials have documented that he won 226 of 308 NASCAR-sanctioned starts from 1989-2001. (A former crewman said the total might be closer to 1,000). The 226 of 308 is a stunning clip of 73.3 percent that included 13 track championships in three states. He made one forgettable 1976 Cup start at Ontario Motor Speedway and one each in the K&N West and South tours. He spent almost his entire career on Midwestern short tracks, where he often seemed unbeatable.

Phillips, who died in 2004 at age 62, is the 18th honoree in the second group among the “75 Greatest Drivers.” NASCAR plans to name the remaining seven this week and next, leading into the Darlington weekend.