Racing History

Harry Gant Will Long Be Known As ‘Mr. September’

FOUR SCORE: Harry Gant and Miss Winston Beth Bruce after Gant won his fourth-straight Cup race in 1991. (Dozier Mobley Photo)

FOUR SCORE: Harry Gant and Miss Winston Beth Bruce after Gant won his fourth-straight Cup race in 1991. (Dozier Mobley Photo)

Major League Baseball had “Mr. October.”

Reggie Jackson was instrumental in helping teams he played with in key games in playoffs and the World Series, usually in October.

And NASCAR had “Mr. September.”

Harry Gant scored the majority of his victories in September and there was nothing like the 1991 season when he won four-straight NASCAR Winston (now Sprint) Cup races and a pair of Busch (now Nationwide) Series events during the same four-week span.

During that month, victories came at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Richmond (Va.) Int’l Raceway, Dover (Del.) Int’l Speedway and Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

Gant went for five in a row at North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway and led most of the race before a 10-cent O-ring cost him a chance at his fifth-straight victory.

Not only was the Taylorsville, N.C., native known as “Mr. September,” but he was also referred to as “Handsome Harry” and the “Skoal Bandit,” which people still call him today. Even though Gant no longer is an active driver, he still does personal appearances for U. S. Tobacco Co., whose Skoal smokeless tobacco product sponsored Gant for most of his career in the NASCAR Cup ranks, driving the No. 33 for car owners Hal Needham and Leo Jackson.

Gant’s most successful Cup season was 1991, finishing fourth in the point standings, winning five races, finishing in the top five 15 times and top 10 in 17 races. He led 1,684 laps that year — more than any other driver.

Having turned 70 earlier this year, Gant was 51 when he won four-straight races in 1991.

Gant’s highest finish in points came in 1984 when he finished second behind Terry Labonte.

Gant’s entry into the Cup ranks came late in his career.

“I was running a lot of late-model stuff before I came to Cup,” said Gant, “having fun, winning races and making a little money on the side.

“It was hard to give all that up and come to Cup. I thought I might have been a little too old for all that, at the time, too.”

Besides, Gant was a very successful carpenter by trade. At one time, Gant owned a very successful steak restaurant in Taylorsville.

During his Cup career, Gant won 18 races and 17 poles and earned more than $8 million in winnings.

Gant is an avid motorcycle rider. He’s been on every one of Kyle Petty’s charity rides across America. Usually, you’ll find Gant riding up front on those charity rides.

“I was never one who wanted to run second,” said Gant. “If I did something, I did my best to run up front and win.”

That’s the reason Harry Gant was known as “Mr. September.”

Posted by on Sep 14 2010 Filed under A Lesson in History, Racing History. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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