- October 21, 1941
- United States
- Nascar Xfinity Series
The American stock car racer Morgan Shepherd, born in October1941, is currently the oldest active driver in the NASCAR, competing the full season in the 2017 Xfinity Series with the #89 Chevrolet Camaro for his own team Shepherd Racing Ventures.
Shepherd debuted in NASCAR in 1970 and since then he recorded more than thousand starts in all three national series. He won four times in the Winston Cup (now Sprint Cup) and fifteen times in the Busch Series (now Xfinity Series). He took his only championship title in 1980, winning the NASCAR Late Model Sportsman Division. In 1993, when he won the spring race at Atlanta, Shepherd became the second-oldest race winner in the NASCAR history, at the age 51 years, 4 month and 27 days.
Before entering NASCAR, Shepherd started his racing career in 1967, running Late models at Hickory Motor Speedway nearby his home in Ferguson, North Carolina. He debuted in the NASCAR Grand National Series in June 1970, at Hickory Speedway, driving the #93 Chevrolet for Bill Flowers. He participated in three races with that car, not finishing either one race.
Some personal problems during the 1970s slowed down Shepherd's career. He returned to race tracks in 1975, driving for 17 different car owners during one season and finishing second in the NASCAR Sportsman Division, behind L. D. Ottinger. Shepherd returned to NASCAR's premier division, renamed to Winston Cup, in 1977, driving a Mercury for Jim Makar. In three seasons with Makar, Shepherd recorded five starts and two DNQ attempts at Daytona 500.
In 1978, Shepherd met Cliff Stewart, who owned a furniture factory in North Carolina and since then his career went upwards. With Stewart's sponsorship and driving Stewart's car, Shepherd became the 1980 NASCAR Late Models Sportsman Division champion, after winning nine races.
In 1981, Stewart and Shepherd moved to the Winston Cup, for Shepherd's first full season in the premier division.
On April 26, 1981, Shepherd scored his maiden Winston Cup victory, winning the Virginia 500 race at Martinsville Speedway. Shepherd left the team before the end of the season, driving for three more car owners and finishing 13th in the points.
In the last part of the 1981 season, he was driving for Ron Benfield and they extended the contract for 1982 season. Driving the #98 Buick, he scored six top 5 results and finished 10th in the points. In the same year, he joined Ed Whitaker in the NASCAR Late Model Sportsman Series (today Xfinity Series), winning two races with #7 Oldsmobile.
Shepherd started the 1983 season without a full-time ride. After four attempts with four different cars, he finally found a place in Jim Stacy's #2 Buick, participating in 23 races and scoring three Top 5 results. In the Sportsman Series, he again won two races for Ed Whitaker.
After changing many rides during 1984 and 1985, Shepherd's second Winston Cup victory came in March 1986, at Atlanta International Raceway. He was driving the #47 Race Hill Farm Buick for Jack Beebe. In 1987, he was driving only the #26 Buick for King Racing. In 1988, Shepherd changed seven cars during a season.
During the 1980s, he continued to participate occasionally in the Busch Series, winning eight races between 1986 and 1988. In 1987, he entered the competition for the first time with his own team. The victory with Shepherd Racing's #97 Buick at Indianapolis Raceway Park in August 1988 was his last win in the Busch Series.
The period from 1989 to 1997 was Shepherd's most productive and the most successful time in the Winston Cup Series. After a full 1989 season with RahMoc Enterprises, he joined Bud Moore Engineering in 1990 and it became his career-best season. He won the season's finale at Atlanta in the Motorcraft-sponsored #15 Ford and finished fifth in the points.
Shepherd moved to Wood Brothers Racing's #21 Ford in 1992 and stayed with the team for four seasons. His only win in that period was at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March 1993, when he became the second-oldest race winner in NASCAR's history. At the end of the season, he was 7th in the points. In 1994, he was even better, finishing 6th in the final classification of the Winston Cup Series.
Shepherd's last full season in the Winston Cup was 1996 when he was driving the #75 Ford for Butch Mock Motorsports. After that, he slowed down his activities, becoming the part-time racer with many different teams and cars, including his own #05 Pontiac.
The current team, Shepherd Racing Ventures, entered the #89 car in the Winston Cup Series for the first time in 2001. He was a regular competitor from 2003 to 2006. Since then, Shepherd focused on the Busch Series (Nationwide Series), combining his own car and some other teams. From 2012, his only ride was his own #89 car.
In the Sprint Cup Series, Shepherd had last participation in 2014, with Circle Sport's #33 Chevrolet at New Hampshire. He was the oldest ever driver in the Sprint Cup Series. Shepherd also participated in the Truck Series races occasionally, recorded 57 starts between 1997 and 2015.
In 2019, the #89 Chevrolet is still in the field for a full season in the Xfinity Series, which proves that Shepherd is not ready for retirement.
Photos: morganshepherd.com, Getty Images, motorsport.com, woodbrothersracing.com,
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