Like the Mannings in football, or the Hulls in hockey, auto racing too has families of successful competitors. Whether it’s the Andrettis, the Rahals, or the Fittipaldis, auto racing has had many families of incredibly successful drivers. But how do you rank families of drivers that all raced in different types of auto racing?
Our rankings include NASCAR drivers, Formula One racers, Indycar drivers, and sports car series champions. Well, you have to take into account the number of successful family members, the number of races won, number of championships, career longevity and this importance to the sport. Combine all of these criteria and you can compile a list of the 15 greatest racing families. So before you rag on us for not including the Foyts, the Rahals, or the Bettenhausen, please review the aforementioned list of what it takes to be listed below.
15. The Waltrips
The Waltrips have been racing in NASCAR since the early 1970s when Darrell Waltrip first entered a car at Talladega in 1972. Darrell would win his first race in 1975 and become one of the sport’s superstars. He would go to win 84 NASCAR Cup Series races and three series championships over his 29-year career. Darrell’s younger brother Michael would start his NASCAR career in 1985 and would go winless in the Cup Series for the first 16 years of his career.
In 2001, Michael would finally win his first race, the Daytona 500. This was a feat also accomplished by Darrell in 1989. Michael’s win made the Waltrip brothers the only brothers in NASCAR’s history to have both won the Daytona 500. Michael would go on to win the 2003 Daytona 500 as well and also added two more Cup Series wins to his merit. Although Michael was far less successful than Darrell, the Waltrips solidify their spot in these rankings solely with their 88 combined NASCAR Cup Series victories, and three Daytona 500 wins.
14. The Wallaces
The Wallace family is one of NASCAR’s most respected families. Led by 1989 Cup Series champion and the oldest of three racing brothers, Rusty. Rusty is the most successful of the Wallace clan. Rusty raced in 22 full Cup Series seasons and won 55 races. Rusty was competitive in the sport all the way up until his final season in 2005 when he finished eighth in points. Rusty’s brother Mike didn’t reach the same success as him, but he does hold wins in NASCAR’s lower-level Xfinity and Truck Series. The youngest of the Wallace brothers, Kenny was a mainstay in NASCAR’s Xfinity series for nearly 30 years. He won nine races in the series and was named the most popular driver three times.
But the Wallace family legacy doesn’t end with Kenny, Mike, and Rusty. Rusty’s son Steve has also raced in NASCAR. Steve raced several season in NASCAR’s Xfinity series throughout the 2000s and amassed 34 top-ten finishes. Mike’s daughter Chrissy also raced briefly in NASCAR, making a few starts in the Truck Series. The Wallaces are a legendary NASCAR family who are so widely respected in the sport, they were even honoured with a race named after them. In 2005, the NASCAR Xfinity Series held “The Wallace Family Tribute 250” at Gateway. Although the Wallces only hold one championship between them, their notoriety and their longevity make them one of auto racing’s best families.
13. The Bakers
Buck Baker began racing in NASCAR before the sport gained the notoriety and popularity that it has today. Buck made his first NASCAR start in 1949 and would be one of the sport’s superstars throughout it’s “Golden Era” of the 1960s and 70s. Buck would win 46 races in his career and won back-to-back series championships in 1956 and 1957. In 635 career races, Buck would finish in the top-ten 372 times, averaging a top-ten finish every other race. Buck dominated during his time in NASCAR and he passed his racing talent along to son Buddy.
Buddy Baker raced in NASCAR alongside his father throughout the 1960s but had most of his success in the 1970s. Buddy would never win a championship, but he managed to win 23 races, including the 1980 Daytona 500 and finished in the top-ten 318 times. The Bakers were one of NASCAR’s first father and son duos to both have success. Buck is currently enshrined in NASCAR’s hall of fame and Buddy likely isn’t far behind.
12. The Busch Brothers
Like em’ or hate em’, the Busch Brothers are two of NASCAR’s most prominent and successful drivers in the 21st century. Kurt Began his Cup Series career in 2000 and has won 29 races and claimed the 2004 championship. Kurt also has five wins in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series and four wins in the Truck Series. But Kurt’s thunder was seemingly stolen when his brother Kyle began racing in NASCAR. Kyle Busch made his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut in 2003 and finished second in his first race. There was no doubt he’d be the sport’s next superstar.
After moving up to the Cup Series in 2005, Kyle became one of NASCAR’s most dominant drivers. He’s won 43 Cup Series races and won the 2015 Championship. Kyle is also the all-time leader in Xfinity Series wins with 91. He also won the 2010 championship. But wait, there’s more. Kyle has also won 49 Truck Series races, making him one of NASCAR’s all-time winningest drivers. Although Kyle is the more successful of the two, the Busch brothers have both won a NASCAR Cup Series title and have combined for 72 Cup Series wins, making the Busches one of auto racing’s most successful families.
11. The Schumachers
Well, to say that the Schumachers are a great racing family might be a bit of a stretch. Yes, brothers Michael and Ralf are some of the only brothers to have won a Formula One race. But, Michael is carrying the family name on the back of his SEVEN Formula One Championships. Overall, you could argue Ralf had a successful Formula One career. He won six races and finished in the top-five in the drivers’ championship four times. Even at the end of his career, driving for the lower-funded Toyota team, Ralf still had decent results. But Michael is the reason that the Schumachers are number eleven on this list. In fact, even if he was an only child, Michael could probably make a list of great racing families.
Michael owns 91 Formula One victories, 155 podium finishes and won seven drivers’ championships. He is the only driver to have ever won seven titles, and he won five of them consecutively. So yeah, there was a point on earth for five straight years where Michael Schumacher just ruled the auto racing world. Although this is a lift of great racing families and Ralf Schumacher was an okay Formula One driver, the Schumachers are here because of Michael. But they’d be a little higher up if they had more family members in racing.
10. The Earnhardts
You can’t have a list of great racing families with the Earnhardts. Dale Earnhardt is the most popular driver in NASCAR’s history. Even after his passing in 2001, his merchandise is still flying off the shelf and you can’t take a drive through the south without seeing a “3” bumper sticker on every other pickup truck. But Dale’s father Ralph was the first Earnhardt to race in NASCAR. Ralph raced in 51 Cup Series races and had 16 top-ten finishes. His son Dale started in NASCAR in 1975 and would win his first championship in 1980. Dale Would go on to win seven Cup Series Championships and 76 races. In 1996, Dale Jr. made his debut in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series and would win back-to-back championships in 1998 and 1999. He would move to the Cup Series in 2000 and would win 26 races in his career, including two Daytona 500s.
But the Earnhardt clan also has some auxiliary members. Dale Sr’s son and Dale Jr’s half-brother Kerry has also raced in NASCAR. Kerry spent several seasons racing in the Xfinity Series and Truck Series with limited success. Now Kerry’s son Jeffrey is the last remaining Earnhardt in NASCAR. Jeffrey has had very limited success running for multiple under-funded teams in the Cup and Xfinity Series and is still looking to find consistency in the sport. Although the most successful members of the Earnhardt family are no longer in the sport, the family name is synonymous with auto racing.
9. The Villeneuves
Gilles – 6 F1 Wins, finished 2nd in points in 1979, died in 1982
Jacques – 1995 Indy 500 win, 1995 CART PPG Indy Car champion, 5 champ car wins, 1997 F1 Champion, 11 career wins, 6 Xfinity top tens
Canada isn’t particularly known for having great racing drivers, but the Villeneuves are an exception to that. Both father Gilles and son Jacques have had success in motorsport, making the Villenueves one of auto racing’s great families. Gilles began racing in Formula One in 1977 and won his first race in 1978 at the Canadian Grand Prix. Over the next four years, Gilles would win five more Formula One races and finished second in the drivers’ championship in 1979. Gilles was poised to be a champion many times over, but he was unfortunately killed in a practice crash at the Belgian Grand Prix in 1982.
This would leave his young son Jacques to carrying the torch for the Villeneuve family. Jacques would not disappoint. Jacques would rise to prominence in the 1990s, winning the 1995 CART championship, including a win at the famed Indianapolis 500. In 1996, he’d jump to Formula One and make an immediate impact. He’d win four races and finish second in the drivers’ championship. In 1997, Jacques would win seven more races and the world championship. This would be the height of Jacques’ career as he would not win another Formula One race and left F1 in 2006. He dabbled in many other forms of racing but never found consistent success.
Gilles Villeneuve never had the same success as his son, but both drivers left their mark on Formula One and cemented their place as one of auto racing’s prominent families.
8. The Labontes
The Labontes are two of NASCAR’s favorite brothers. Terry and Bobby have both had success at NASCAR’s highest level, the Cup Series. Terry was first to take to the sport and began racing in NASCAR in 1978. He’d win his first race in 1980 and his first series championship in 1984. He’d win another title in 1996 and finished his career with 22 wins. Bobby began his NASCAR career in the lower-level Xfinity Series in the 1980s and would go on to win the 1991 championship. He’d move up to the Cup Series in 1993 and would eventually win the championship in 2000. Bobby’s championship made the Labonte brothers the first pair of brothers to both win the Cup Series Championship.
Terry’s son Justin also briefly raced in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series and managed to win the 2004 race at Chicago in what is considered one of the biggest upsets in NASCAR history. But is eighth too high a spot to put the Labontes? No, the Labonte brothers were both superstars in NASCAR for over 20 years. Both won Cup Series championships and both were consistent top-ten finishers until late in their careers. The Labonte family is without a doubt one of auto racing’s greatest.
7. The Rosbergs
How many father and son duos have both won a Formula One World Championship? Just two. Keke and Nico Rosberg were the second to complete the feat when Nico won the 2016 championship. Keke Rosberg won five F1 races in his career and took the driver’s championship in 1982. His son Nico began his Formula One career in 2006 with Williams but had little success until he joined the Mercedes team in 2010. Nico won his first race in 2012 and finished runner up in the championship to his teammate Lewis Hamilton in both 2014 and 2015. In 2016, Nico would finally overtake his Hamilton and take the championship. It would be a dominant season for Nico, in which his worst finish was a seventh place.
Nico retired immediately following his championship in 2016. Although the Rosbergs have now left racing, there is no doubt that they are one of the best families to have competed in auto racing.
6. The Allisons
The Allisons are one of NASCAR’s classic families of racers. Brothers Bobby and Donnie raced against each other through NASCAR’s “Golden Era.” Donnie never competed in a full Cup Series season but he managed to win 10 races in his career. Bobby was the true jewel of the family, winning 84 Cup Series races and the 1983 championship. Bobby also won two Daytona 500s, NASCAR’s premier race.
But the Allison family name didn’t stop at Donnie and Bobby. Bobby’s son Davey made his NASCAR debut in 1983 and was racing full-time in the Cup Series by 1987. Davey would actually finish second to his father in the 1988 Daytona 500. Davey would go on to win 19 Cup Series races and was the favorite to win the title in 1993 before he was tragically killed in a helicopter crash. Had Davey not passed away, he and his father would likely have become the second father and son duo to win the Cup Series title. Regardless of the fact that the Allisons have just one championship between them, they are solidly in the running as one of auto racing’s great families.
5. The Hills
We’ve already talked about the Rosbergs as the second father and son to both win the Formula One World Championship. But who were the first? It was none other than Graham and Damon Hill. Graham Hill start in Formula One in the late 1950s came out of nowhere to win the 1962 championship. He would finish runner-up in the championship the next three seasons and would eventually win his second title in 1968. Graham also dabbled in other forms of racing, winning the 1966 Indianapolis 500 and the 1972 24 Hours of Le Mans. Unfortunately, Graham would be killed in a plane crash in 1975, ending his racing career.
Graham’s son Damon began his F1 career in 1992. He failed to qualify for all but two races he attempted and it looked as though his career would be over before it started. In 1993, he would join the Williams team, winning three races and finished third in the standings. Damon would go on to with the 1996 driver’s championship. Damon would win 22 races and one championship in his career. Pair that with his father’s 14 wins and two championships and it is clear that the Hills are one of auto racing’s most dominant families.
4. The Jarretts
Ned Jarrett won 50 NASCAR Cup Series races in his career and won the series’ championship in 1961 and 1965. He was a member of the 2011 NASCAR Hall of Fame class and is one of NASCAR’s most legendary racers. But the racing talent in the Jarrett family didn’t end with Ned alone. Ned’s son Dale became a NASCAR regular in 1987 and got his first win in 1991. Dale would go on to win 32 Cup Series races in his career, including three Daytona 500s.
Dale’s most memorable win came at the 1993 Daytona 500 when his father Ned was the broadcaster for the race. Ned’s call of his son’s victory became national news and is one of NASCAR’s most memorable moments. Dale would also win the 1999 championship, making he and his father just the second father and son duo to have won a Cup Series championship. This feat alone make’s the Jarretts a top-five racing family.
3. The Pettys
The Pettys are the first family of NASCAR. If they built a Mount Rushmore of NASCAR drivers, both Lee and Richard Petty would likely both be represented. Lee Petty won the inaugural Daytona 500 and 53 other NASCAR Cup Series races. Lee was also a three-time champion. But Lee’s son Richard is the class of the family. Richard won 200 Cup Series races in his career and seven championships, making him the greatest driver in the history of NASCAR. Richard could almost make this list on his own. But the family success doesn’t stop with Richard. Richard’s son Kyle also made a career in NASCAR. He’d win eight Cup Series races but is most remembered for the latter part of his career where success was hard to find.
In 1998, the third generation of the Petty family made its debut in NASCAR. Kyle’s son Adam made his Xfinity Series debut and raced for 2 season in the series with limited success. In 2000, Adam was tragically killed in a practice crash as New Hampshire International Speedway. After Kyle’s retirement from NASCAR in 2008, the Petty’s reign as NASCAR’s longest tenured family ended. But the Petty’s still operate Richard Petty Motorsports, field driver Bubba Wallace Jr. in the Cup Series. Although they’re finished racing themselves, the Petty’s are still actively involved in NASCAR and maintain their stranglehold as NASCAR’s greatest family.
2. The Unsers
The Unser family is essentially royalty in American open-wheel racing. Six members of the family have competed in open-wheel racing in the US. The first of the family to compete was Jerry. He competed in the 1958 Indianapolis 500, and one Formula race. His career was ended tragically in a fatal crash during practice for the 1959 Indianapolis 500. The Unser family name would be carried on by Jerry’s brothers Al and Bobby.
Bobby Unser would win three Indianapolis 500s and 2 USAC championships. His brother Al would win four Indianapolis 500s in his career as well as one USAC championship and two CART championships. Al’s son Al Jr. would carry on the family name by winning two Indianapolis 500s, two CART championships, a Can-Am Series championship, and 34 overall Indycar race wins in his career.
Although other members of the Unser family also raced, Bobby, Al, and Al Jr. are the flagship members of the Unser family. Their combined NINE Indianapolis 500 victories are nearly enough to make the Unsers the greatest racing family but there is one other family that tops our list.
1. The Andrettis
It’s a no-brainer. The Andrettis are the greatest family in auto racing’s history. Mario Andretti’s career accolades alone would put him in the top five of this list. Mario’s career in racing is still unmatched to this day. Mario owns 12 Formula One victories and one Formula One Driver’s Championship. He also owns three USAC championships, one CART championship, one Indianapolis 500 victory, one Daytona 500 victory, one 24 Hours of Le Mans victory and a Daytona 6-Hour victory. Let that sink in for a second. All that winning is by just one member of the Andretti family. But it doesn’t stop there.
Mario’s son Michael won 42 races in the CART series and won the 1991 championship. He also had a short career in Formula One, with one podium finish. Michael’s son Marco is also a race driver and made his debut in Indycar in 2006. He’d finish second in that year’s Indianapolis 500 and win his first race at Sonoma. Marco would win his second race at Iowa in 2011. Marco has had limited success in Indycar so far, but his best years may still be ahead of him. And let’s not forget Mario’s nephew John who competed in sports car racing and NASCAR. John won the 1989 24 Hours of Daytona, an Indycar race in 1991, and three NASCAR Cup Series races.
If you add it all up, no other family of racers comes close to the dominance of the Andretti family. Sure, the Pettys have won more races, but all their wins are in NASCAR. The Andrettis have wins in all different types of auto racing and have been dominant in everything they’ve done. It’s undisputed, the Andrettis are auto racing’s greatest family.