Buddy Arrington, a longtime independent driver-owner in the NASCAR Cup Series, died on Tuesday, August 2, at Sovah Health of Martinsville. He was 84 years old.
Arrington, a Martinsville native, spent 25 years in the NASCAR Cup Series. He made 560 total starts while driving for his own team, and he secured 103 top-10 finishes and 15 top-fives. He did not win a race during his career, but he came close multiple times. He finished third at Nashville in 1965 and third at Talladega Superspeedway in 1979.
The third-place run at Talladega represented a near-miss for Arrington. He qualified fourth overall at the 2.25-mile track, and he led two laps in the No. 67 Dodge. However, he fell two laps back of the field during a late pit stop. The crew left the gas can attached and forced Arrington to pit for a second time.
While Arrington missed out on his first career win, he still finished third overall and just ahead of Richard Petty. Bobby Allison won the Winston 500 after leading 58 laps while Darrell Waltrip finished second overall.
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Arrington is in the MOPAR Hall of Fame
Arrington turned heads throughout his NASCAR career for his unwavering support of Dodge. He drove Dodge and Chrysler stock cars from 1964 all the way until the end of the 1984 season. Arrington had to switch to Ford cars for some races in 1985 as his Chrysler became no longer eligible for competition.
With his Chrysler no longer eligible, Arrington finished out the final two full-time seasons of his career in a Ford. He started 46 of the 58 races and posted a pair of season-best 12th-place finishes. Arrington ultimately walked away from the sport after a part-time run in 1988 that featured three starts in a Ford and one in a Chevrolet.
This dedication to the brand, which stemmed from Arrington’s time as a mechanic at a Chrysler dealership, led to a unique honor. He was inducted into the MOPAR Hall of Fame in 2015, joining such names as former Dodge executive Dick Maxwell, former NASCAR team owner Carl Kiekhaefer, drag racer Lee Smith, and the Dodge Challenger from “Vanishing Point.”
Arrington Was a Big Name at a Historic Track
Of Arrington’s 560 starts, 7% of them took place at one of the sport’s favorite tracks. He made 41 starts at Martinsville Speedway, the Virginia short track that has featured numerous high-profile battles for the grandfather clock.
Arrington had some strong runs at his hometown track. He posted top-10 finishes in 41.5% of his starts. This includes four fifth-place finishes. The first was in 1965, two were in 1969, and the last was in 1978.
“Buddy Arrington was the epitome of a successful car owner and driver during his era in NASCAR,” said Clay Campbell, Martinsville Speedway track president, in a statement. “As an owner, he knew how to use his resources to compete with the top teams. As a driver, Buddy had all the talent to get the job done, so it was never a surprise to see his red and blue No. 67 Dodge trading paint with some of the best in the sport.
“From a personal perspective, I will always remember him as the first person to give me a ride around Martinsville Speedway when I was a teenager. To this day, it remains one of the most thrilling things I’ve ever done.
“I will never forget his kindness sharing that experience with me,” Campbell added. “I think he may have enjoyed it as much as I did and I’m pretty sure he was wearing his signature sunglasses when he did it! That was Buddy. He made an impact on the sport that will never be forgotten. My condolences go out to his family during this time.”