Inheritance: 7 Racers Who Learned from Dad

If we look back far enough, most of our gearheadedness came from one man: Dad.  Whether he was an engine builder or just the guy who knew how to put the spare on, Dad was the go-to guy for everything that had to do with cars.  Dad likely taught you to drive, probably before it was even legal.  The first time you looked under the hood, it was probably with Dad.

Learned From Dad - Graham and Damon Hill

Our dads were no exception here at Streetside. Mike’s dad once told him, “Never race a car made before the catalytic converter.”  Anne’s dad, who built an MG replica in his garage, said, “Take care of your car and it will take care of you.”  Matt always held the flashlight, while Zach was sent to the toolbox to look for a metric crescent wrench.

Learned From Dad - Dale and Dale Jr

All the car stuff Dad taught us was great.  But some folks got especially lucky.  Dad taught them to race.  Some of them even turned out to be as good as or better than Dad.  Racing becomes a family affair more often than you might think.  There are hundreds of father-kid or sibling relationships in professional racing alone.  The Earnhardts, the Allisons, the Millens, the Unsers, Graham and Damon and Phil and Derek Hill, Derek and Justin Bell, Derek and Conor Daly, (alot of racers named Derek, too), Jan and Kevin Magnussen, and Jody and Tomas Scheckter, to name a few.  Here are 7 more in a little more detail.


The Brabhams

Dad: Sir Jack Brabham
Kids: Geoff, Gary, David

Learned From Dad - The Brabhams

Australian F1 driver Sir Jack Brabham won the World Championship three times, throughout the course of his career.  He won the first championship in a car whose engine was behind the driver.  He even designed and built his own cars, and remains the only driver who won a championship in a car he manufactured himself.

Some of that must have worn off on his boys, because they all became successful racing drivers in their own right.  Geoff competed in 10 Indianapolis 500s and won the Le Mans in 1993.  Gary won the 1989 British Formula 3000 championship and the 1991 12 Hours of Sebring.  And David raced in Formula 1, and at Le Mans, winning overall in 2009 and his class in 2007 and 2008.

Sir Jack just passed away last month at the age of 88.  It’s good to know he left some of his talent behind.

The Forces

Dad: John Force
Kids: Adria Hight, Ashley Force Hood, Courtney, Brittany

Learned From Dad - John Force and Daughters

John Force is a drag racing legend, living up to his appropriate surname.  He has sixteen NHRA championships under his belt, winning 139 events.  And though he’s 65, you’d never guess it from his relentlessly energetic demeanor.

But John’s daughters know their way around a drag car, too.  Ashley was Rookie of the Year in 2007 and even beat her dad to win the Southern Nationals in 2008.  She was the first woman to ever win an event in a Top Fuel Funny Car.  Courtney won her first event the following year, and went on to take the Top Alcohol Championship.  Brittany drives Top Fuel, and took Rookie of the Year last year.  John’s first Daughter, Adria Hight, is his chief financial officer, which is probably the toughest job of all.

The McRaes

Dad: Jimmy
Kids: Colin and Alister

Learned From Dad - Jimmy, Colin, and Alister McRae

Scottish rally driver Jimmy McRae found a great deal of success in the ‘80s, winning the British Rally Championship five times and scoring second in the 1982 European Rally Championship.

Alister won his class in his very first WRC event at age 22.  Just barely keeping out of the spotlight during his early career, he’s found massive success in recent years in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship.

Colin is widely regarded as one of the greatest rally drivers of the modern era.  He won 25 WRC events, 477 stages, and the World Championship in 1995.  If any driver is responsible for Subaru’s rally reputation, it’s Colin.  Later in his career, he took up tarmac racing, taking 3rd in class at Le Mans in 2004.  In 2006 he raced at the first X-Games rallycross event, rolling his car near the finish, but still only losing to Travis Pastrana by .13 seconds.

Colin was tragically killed in a helicopter accident in 2007, along with his 5-year-old son.  Jimmy drove in their memorial race the following year.

The Rosbergs

Dad: Keke
Kid: Nico

Learned From Dad - Keke and Nico Rosberg  Learned From Dad - Keke and Nico Rosberg

In 1978, a 29-year-old Keke Rosberg joined the F1 stage.  29 is relatively ancient to get your start in F1, and the F1 teams to pick Rosberg during the first few years were abysmal.  In 1981, he scored no points.  And the next year, now in a competitive car at Williams, he won the World Championship.  He went on to complete a career with 159.5 points before hanging up his helmet and taking up a management post.

His son Nico began racing F1 in 2006 with Keke as his manager.  Over his relatively short career, he’s scored an impressive 18 podiums and 5 wins, including two at Monaco, this year and last year, when he and Keke became the only father and son to both win at the illustrious circuit.  Now Nico races for Mercedes and is the current points leader for the 2014 season.

The Villeneuves

Dad: Gilles
Kid: Jaques

Learned From Dad - The Villeneuves

French F1 driver Gilles Villeneuve got his start snowmobiling of all places, then moved to drag racing his ‘67 Mustang.  Like Keke Rosberg, got into F1 late, at age 27, after beating James Hunt in a Formula Atlantic race in 1976.  He won 6 F1 races and took 13 podiums for a career total of 101 points.

Sadly, Gilles was killed in the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix qualifying at Zolder.  His son Jaques was just 11 at the time, but he didn’t let his father’s death dissuade him from racing.  Though he’s since raced several NASCAR series and took 2nd at Le Mans in 2008, he’s still best known for his F1 career, in which he took 11 wins, 23 podiums, and 235 career points over 10 years.

The Pettys

Great Grandpa: Lee
Grandpa: Richard
Dad: Kyle
Kid: Adam

Learned From Dad - The Pettys

Founding one of the great American NASCAR dynasties, and indeed, helping to found NASCAR itself, Lee Petty was one of NASCAR’s first superstars.  He competed in the very first NASCAR race in 1949 and went on to win 54 times over a 15 year career, including the first Daytona 500 and 3 national championships.

His son Richard “The King” Petty won the NASCAR championship series 7 times, amassing a still-held record of 200 races over his 33-year career.  This included an incredible seven wins at Daytona.

Kyle Petty started his career long before his father ended his.  He won his very first stock car event, the 1979 Daytona ARCA 200, in his dad’s 1978 Dodge Magnum race car.  Throughout his career, he took 8 wins and 184 top tens.

Adam’s career began at age 18, and like his father, he won his first ARCA race.  He took 4 top tens in his first 3 seasons.  He’s the only known 4th generation driver in American motorsports.  But Adam’s story is tragically short.  While practicing for the Busch 200 in 2000, he was killed in a crash.  His death brought sweeping safety reforms in NASCAR, including the requirement of HANS devices, used unilaterally in all motorsports today.

The Andtrettis

Grandpas: Mario, Aldo
Dads: Michael
Kids: Jeff, John, Adam, Marco

Learned From Dad - The Andtrettis

And no list of racing dynasties of racing dynasties could even be considered without the Andrettis.  Beginning with the first generation of Mario and Aldo, continuing with the second of Michael, Jeff, John, and Adam, and reaching on with Marco, the Andrettis have raced everything: NASCAR, F1, Le Mans, CART, Trans Am (we met Adam at Road Atlanta recently), and most notably, Indycar among several others.

To sum up their achievements would take ages.  So we’re not going to do it.  But you get the idea.

So we hope this Sunday you can hang out with your dad, whether you’re holding a flashlight, or getting advice on how to find your apexes at Monaco.  Happy Fathers Day!

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