Lawrence Neil Bonnett, later known as Neil Bonnett, later part of the famous “Alabama Gang”, was born on July 30, 1947 in Hueytown, Alabama. During his eighteen-year career he ran in 362 races with eighteen wins, 156 top ten and pole positions. His first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was in 1974 at the Winston Cup Series, Nashville 420 at Nashville and he earned his first victory in 1977 at the Capital City 400 in Richmond, Virginia while driving for the Harry Hyde / Jim Stacy Racing team. earning another victory the same year in the Los Angeles Times 500. Spectators expected the following year to be Neil’s year, but due to equipment and financial problems for the team, many of the cars he raced experienced problems and had to be retired. 1979 saw him driving for the Woods Brothers Racing team, earning three victories. He won NASCAR’s longest race, the World 600 in 1982 and 1983 and also the Busch Clash (now Bud Shootout) in 1983 and 1984. He joined Junior Johnson’s team in 1984 and went on to have one of his best seasons in 1985. when he finished fourth in the points standings.
On April 1, 1990, he suffered a near fatal accident in Darlington, South Carolina during the TranSouth 500. His car collided with barrels of water at the pit stop and Neil suffered broken ribs, a broken sternum and amnesia, resulting in which forced him to recover and retire from racing. for three years. During this time, Neil became a color television commentator (color analyst) with TNN, CBS Sports, and TBS Sports. A sportscaster is the person who assists the main announcer by completing any time when the game is not in progress. In motorsports coverage, the Color Analyst provides expert analysis and background information such as statistics, strategy, and injury reports. He was also the host of the show “Winners” for TNN. Neil was a very popular TV host and commentator, but despite this, the appeal of the racetrack was never far behind and he began testing cars for his friends Dale Earnhardt and Richard Childress in 1992. In 1993, Neil was He gave him the go-ahead to be able to race again and was promised a car for the 1993 Diehard 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, but unfortunately his car spun, flew into the air and collided with the spectator fence. He was not injured and finished the race in the CBS broadcast booth. He was also driving in the final race of the season at Atlanta, but was suspended after three laps, supposedly because the engine had burned out, but he was joined by Dale Earnhardt, the points leader in this season’s championships; it could have been to secure the three points needed for Dale to win the season’s championship. This was his last start to the championship. Disappointing, but Neil was not discouraged because he had secured a car and sponsorship for at least six races in the 1994 season, including the opening season of the Daytona 500, but on February 11, 1994, during the first session of In practice for the 1994 Dayton 500, your car was damaged. Right front tire failure at the fourth turn of the track. His car hit the outer wall almost head-on. Neil was taken to Halifax Medical Center, but it was discovered that he had died at the scene of the accident. He is buried in Pleasant Grove Cemetery, Forest Grove Memorial Gardens. He left behind a widow, Susan, a son, David (also a NASCAR driver), and a grandson, Justin. Neil has been named one of the Top 50 Drivers in NASCAR, inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame in 1997 and inducted into the International Sports Hall of Fame in 2001. A road named “Allison- Bonnett Memorial Drive “in his hometown is honored by him, along with fellow driver Davey Allison, who died in 1993.
Neil also raced in the NASCAR International Racing Champions during 1979, 1980 and 1984, finishing second twice. Neil’s career also touched film and television when he appeared in television movies, Bandit; Bandit Goes Country and Daytona 500 and the big screen cinema at Stoker Ace and Days of Thunder. Neil was considered one of the most personable and popular drivers in NASCAR history.