The past 12 months have not been happy ones for NASCAR. Last year, Alan Kulwicki and Davey Allison perished in aviation accidents, and before the first green light of the 1994 season the sport once again found itself in mourning.
Neil Bonnett, who died following an accident in testing at Daytona, was one of the old guard. He first competed in the Winston Cup 20 years ago, and he was on the verge of a small-scale return to the series following a four-year layoff in the wake of a serious accident at Darlington. He had established a niche for himself as a presenter on the US TV networks during his sabbatical, and had only intended to contest a handful of races this year.
Aged 47, Neil had collected 20 pole positions and 18 victories in his 16 years of top-flight racing. We offer our condolences to his wife Susan, their children David and Kristen on the loss of a popular and well respected competitor.
• Equally, our sympathies go out to the friends and family of 33 year-old NASCAR racer Rodney Orr, who perished in a separate accident at Daytona, four days later. Orr was voted most popular driver in the Goody’s Dash Series in 1992, and won the championship outright last season, pipping Johnny Smith to the title in the final race of the year at Volusia Speedway, Barberville.