Thursday, July 12, 2012

Craven Set For Pace Car Duty At NHMS

In 1993, Bill Clinton was President of the United States. Tom Hanks won his first Academy Award, and the late Alan Kulwicki was the defending NASCAR Cup Series champion.  

Ricky Craven
It was also the year that NASCAR’s premier series debuted at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, with Rusty Wallace driving to Victory lane on July 11, 1993.  

Sunday, “The Magic Mile” will celebrate the 20th anniversary of that historic first race with the LENOX Industrial Tools 301, paced by New England’s own Ricky Craven. 

“I watched as the track was being built – competed in its first event and celebrated a few times in victory lane,” said Craven, a native of Newbergh, Maine and a two-time winner  in NASCAR’s top series. “The 20th anniversary represents a great opportunity for all of us to reflect on the many races and events. I’m proud to have been a member of several and I’m excited to be coming home.” 

Craven will drive the track’s Toyota Camry pace car, leading the field around the 1.086-mile oval before the green flag drops. Craven is currently an ESPN in-studio analyst for the “NASCAR Now” show and a part-time color analyst for the Nationwide Series. He retired from full-time racing in 2004, ending his career with two wins, 17 Top-5 and 41 Top-10 finishes. He also earned six-career poles, two of them coming in New Hampshire.

There have been 14 different winners in the 19 July races since Wallace edged Mark Martin in the inaugural Slick 50 300 at NHMS, including Jeff Burton (three times), Tony Stewart (twice), Jimmie Johnson (twice) and Kurt Busch (twice), all of whom will be in the field Sunday.


  1. SnowdogBob2:41 PM

    If i remember right i was at that first race and the next week at Pocono and that was such a roll-coaster week because in between was Davey's helicopter crash. Those two races will be forever linked in my memory, the High of NHIS finally getting the Cup date. The week of hearing that Davey had died. And the memorable salute by Rusty and Dale after Pocono With Alan and Davey's flags. I was lucky enough to have what seemed crappy seats directly under the starters stand but being so close for their memorial after the race made seeing little of the race worthwhile.

  2. Anonymous2:55 PM

    A good trivia question is who won the very first NASCAR sanctioned event at NHIS?

    1. Tommy Ellis won the very first race back on July 15, 1990. It was a combination race featuring drivers from the present-day Nationwide Series and K&N Pro Series East.

  3. SnowdogBob3:27 PM

    Trivia: Did Terrible Tommy Ellis win both halves of a Busch/Busch North double header in 1990? I started going in 1991 which i think Kenny Wallace or Ricky Craven won. (the most memorable early race was Earnhardt vs. Nemecheck with Joe coming out on top...maybe in a dentyne car)