Only three days until the green flag falls on the 2013 Daytona 500, and time to recall the greatest number in NASCAR: the 3.
The number 3 is instantly and forever associated with Dale Earnhardt, Sr. Of course, the number has been effectively and unofficially retired since the day Earnhardt lost his life on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.
More racers who have run the number 3:
+ Richard Childress, from whom Earnhardt essentially inherited the number. Childress struggled as a privateer racer until he fired himself as driver and promoted himself to car owner. Six of Earnhardt’s seven Winston Cup titles came partnered with Childress while running the number 3.
+ Ricky Rudd, who drove for Childress in 1982 and 1983 until Earnhardt took over the car and number.
+ Paul Goldsmith, who drove Chevrolets and Pontiacs out of Smokey Yunick’s Best Damn Garage in Town in Daytona Beach.
+ Buddy Baker, who drove Dodges with the number 3 for crafty owner and crew chief Ray Fox of Daytona Beach. Fox’s shop was only a stone’s throw from Yunick’s.
+ Junior Johnson, who also drove the number 3 for Fox, most famously a ’63 Chevrolet Impala powered by a 427 “mystery engine.”
+ Dick Rathmann, who might be better known as a USAC/Indy car driver and as the brother of 1960 Indy 500 winner Jim Rathmann. However, Dick Rathmann also ran 129 NASCAR Grand National races, winning 13.
You can find a few of these memorable cars and drivers in the gallery below.