Forced to retire in 1999, a year after being selected as one of the 50 greatest NASCAR drivers of all time, Ernie Irvan will return to racing next year as a car owner for his son Jared, it was announced today.
Irvan, who won the 1991 Daytona 500 and 14 other races during a star-crossed career, is best remembered for having is career cut short after a memorable comeback from a head injury suffered at Michigan International Speedway in 1994 when his car crashed into a wall at 170 miles an hour.
Now 54, Irvan would return to win three races and six poles after that; however, a Busch Series (now the Nationwide Series) practice crash at the same MIS track left him with another head injury as well as bruised lung, five year to the day after his near-fatal accident. Two weeks later he retired to avoid further head trauma.
Jared Irvan is a 15 year old sophomore at CFA Academy in Concord and has worked his way up the ranks from go-karts to Midgets to Legends cars. Next year he will compete full-time in the Pro All Star Series South (PASS) at historical track such as Hickory Motor Speedway, South Boston Speedway and Orange County Speedway. Jared will also participate in the Summer Shootout Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He will use his father’s famous No. 28 as his car number.
"It is an honor to be able to follow in my dad's footsteps," said Jared in a release. "He not only my dad, but also my coach, and he brings so much knowledge from his years racing against the best in the sport. He's the role model when it comes to perseverance, and I want to be able to make him proud."
The Irvan car will also have a primary sponsor, Auramist, a leader in producing dry misting fans and cooling solutions.
"I'm thrilled to be able to be back at the track and supporting my son Jared," Ernie said, "We are thankful that Auramist is coming on board as the sponsor. We all know that competing in racing is not easy, not matter who you are, and we look forward to representing their brand on and off the track."