Successful family dynasties are very common throughout the world of sport. Think of the Williams sisters—Venus and Serena—in tennis or the Manning family—Archie, Peyton, and Eli—who have all succeeded in American football. In soccer, brothers Jackie and Bobby Charlton both played for the England team which won the 1966 World Cup Final, while Laila, the youngest of Muhammad Ali’s nine children, has followed in her father’s footsteps by taking up boxing.
Motorsports is no exception when it comes to successful families, and there are many sons (and some daughters) who have followed their father’s example by getting behind the steering wheel in sports like NASCAR, IndyCar racing, drag racing and Formula One.
There are a lot of sporting kids who have big acts to follow, however. Some of the older drivers in this list were huge successes in their day, and their children are always going to be compared to how the old man performed. Of course, there are always those cases where the children of successful NASCAR drivers and drivers in other motorsports will actually surpass the achievements of their older relatives.
Check out the list below of successful NASCAR racers who are already being outshone by their offspring, as well as several family dynasties from NASCAR and other motorsports who have seen several members of the same clan take up motor racing with varying degrees of success.
25 Nascar: Buck and Buddy Baker
Buck Baker began his NASCAR career back in 1949, and won two championships and 46 races and secured 45 pole positions throughout his long career, which only ended in 1976. He passed away in 2002 at the age of 83, but his son Buddy was already following in his footsteps by that time and was already enjoying his own success. Buddy won nineteen races during his career including the 1980 Daytona 500, the most prestigious race in NASCAR at that time. After his own retirement from the sport, Buddy Baker went on to become a well-known and well-loved NASCAR commentator on TNN.
24 Nascar: Ned Jarrett and Dale and Glenn
Born in 1932, Ned Jarrett not only enjoyed his own success in NASCAR’s Grand National series but also fathered two champion drivers in Dale and Glenn. Ned was nicknamed “Gentleman Ned Jarrett” for his polite and generous demeanor. His oldest son, Glenn, was born in 1950, and took part in motor speedway races before becoming a pit reporter for TNN’s coverage of NASCAR races, while his younger brother, Dale won the Daytona 500 three times, in 1993, 1996, and 2000, as well as winning the NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship in 1999. Dale's son, Jason, even had a short-lived career in NASCAR between 1999 and 2005.
23 Nascar: Dale and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The Earnhardts are probably the most famous father and son duo in NASCAR racing, not just for their victories and successes, but also for the tragic incidents which have affected their family. Dale Earnhardt Sr won a total of 76 Winston Cup races over the course of his career, including the 1998 Daytona 500 race. He also earned seven NASCAR Winston Cup championships, tying for the most all-time wins with Richard Petty. Tragically, he lost his life following a crash during the final lap of the Daytona 500 race in 2001. His son, Dale Jr, won the Daytona 500 twice in his career, and now competes in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
22 Nascar: Bobby and Davey Allison
Bobby Allison actually had two sons that followed him into motor racing, Davey and Clifford, but it was only Davey who enjoyed any kind of success in the sport. As for Bobby himself, he was the 1983 Winston Cup champion and won the Daytona 500 three times—in 1978, 1982, and 1988. In his final Daytona 500 win, his son Davey came second, still the only time a father and son have achieved a one-two finish in this iconic race. Tragically, Bobby outlived both his sons; Clifford passed away after a speedway crash, and Davey when the helicopter he was flying in crashed in bad weather.
21 Nascar: Lee and Richard Petty
Richard Petty, who shares the record number of NASCAR Winston Cup wins with Dale Earnhardt Sr, is part of a NASCAR dynasty that has produced some of the most successful drivers in the sport. Richard is the son of Lee Petty, who was one of the pioneers of NASCAR and who won the inaugural Dayton 500 race in 1959—but only after three days of deliberations by the authorities concluded that he had actually beaten Johnny Beauchamp. His son, Richard, is one of the most successful NASCAR racers of all time and has even voiced a character in Cars which was based on his own racing career.
20 Nascar: Richard and Kyle Petty
Continuing the success of the Petty family, Richard’s son Kyle has also enjoyed moderate success in NASCAR and motor racing, starting his stock car racing career when he was just 18 years old in 1982. He made the move into sports commentary after his retirement in 2009, as well as releasing a country music album. Kyle’s son, Adam, was keen to make it four-in-a-row for the Petty family in NASCAR racing, but he tragically passed away after a crash in a practice race. Kyle continued to wear a baseball cap sporting the number of Adam’s race car during TV appearances in honor of his late son.
19 Nascar: Terry Labonte and Justin
Terry Labonte and his younger brother, Bobby, are one of only a few pairs of NASCAR siblings who have enjoyed such success in the sport. In fact, the Labonte siblings are one of only two pairs of brothers to both win the NASCAR Cup championship, along with Kurt and Kyle Busch; Terry won in 1984 and 1996, while Bobby won in 2000. Terry’s son, Justin, clearly has the Labonte racing blood in his veins, as he has also taken up stock car racing, starting his career in the NASCAR Busch series and now winning races on North Carolina’s short-track circuit.
18 Nascar: Rusty Wallace and Stephen
Rusty Wallace is one of the biggest names in motorsports, thanks not only to his success on the track but also because of his larger than life personality. Wallace was the 1984 NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year and the 1989 Winston Cup champion and has been inducted into four different motoring halls of fame including the NASCAR Hall of Fame, in 2013. Wallace’s son Stephen has followed his father’s footsteps into motorsport, taking part in major NASCAR races and winning the Snowball Derby in 2004. Stephen’s cousin, Chrissy, is one of the increasing number of women who have started to make headway in motorsports like NASCAR.
17 Nascar: Bill France and Jim and Bill Jr.
Not all of the famous NASCAR dynasties have made their name on the track. Bill France Sr, who started out as a drag racer, was the brains behind NASCAR, founding the body which manages all stock car racing in the US in 1948 and setting up the Daytona track as the official home of NASCAR racing in 1953. The company behind the success of NASCAR has passed down to other members of the France family, including Bill’s sons, Jim and Bill Jr. Later, Bill Jr succeeded his father as CEO of NASCAR, before retiring in 2000 and handing control of the company to his own son, also named Bill.
16 Nascar: Eddie and Jon Wood
Like some of the other families in this list who have seen several generations of NASCAR racers enjoy victories in the sport, the Wood family have also enjoyed multi-generational success. Eddie Wood is the family patriarch and is the co-owner of the NASCAR racing team Wood Brothers with his brother, Len. The team was founded by their father, Glen Wood, who launched the team with his brother Leonard in the 1950s. Eddie’s own son, Jon Wood, tried his hand at NASCAR racing for a few years, taking part in dozens of races and recording two wins in the NASCAR truck series.
15 Nascar: Len and Keven Wood
Len is the brother of Eddie Wood and is co-owner of the Wood Brothers NASCAR racing team which has enjoyed so much success over years (alongside their sister, Kim Wood Hall). Like Eddie and his son, Jon, Len’s own son, Keven, was inspired to try his hand at stock car racing thanks to his family’s long involvement in NASCAR. Keven also took part in the NASCAR truck series races alongside his cousin, Jon. It is hardly surprising that the youngest generation of the Woods have become involved in NASCAR, given that stock car racing and motorsports seem to be in their genes!
14 Nascar: Clifton Marlin and Steadman, Sterling, and Sutherlin
Another racing driver who has made NASCAR and motorsports a family affair is Clifton Marlin, who has seen three of children follow in his footsteps. Clifton Marlin, known as Coo Coo to his fans, enjoyed a solid and successful NASCAR career, with nine top-5 and 51 top-10 finishes over the years. Coo Coo passed away in 2005, but his son Sterling, as well as grandson Steadman and grand-daughter Sutherlin, have all given motor racing a try. Sterling won the Daytona 500 race in 1994 and 1995, outdoing his old man, while Steadman and Sutherlin made their NASCAR debuts early in the 21st century.
13 John Force and Courtney, Brittany, and Ashley
NASCAR is far from the only motorsport where children have followed in their father’s footsteps when it comes to choosing a career. John Force is one of the biggest names in drag racing, a 16-time funny car champion, and now a 20-time champion car owner through his team, John Force Racing. The team has even signed Force’s three daughters, Courtney Force (who is also married to Graham Rahal), Ashley Force Hood, who raced for the team until she gave birth to her first child, and Brittany Force, who in 2017 became only the second woman in history to win a Top Fuel Championship after trailblazer Shirley Muldowney in 1982.
12 Alfred and Sir Stirling Moss
Sir Stirling Moss is an icon of motorsport, and one of the UK’s most successful Formula 1 drivers, and took part in some of the classic road races of the 1950s and 1960s. Often described as the greatest driver never to win the World Championship, Moss won 212 of the 529 races he entered, and he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000 for services to motor racing. What many fans don’t realize is that Sir Stirling Moss’ father, Alfred, was also a motor racer, taking part in a number of Indy 500 races in the US.
11 Bobby and Graham Rahal
Graham Rahal, who is married to one of John Force’s drag-racing daughters, is a racing driver who takes part in the IndyCar Series, finishing fourth in the 2015 championship, and also scoring a fourth-place finish in the 2009 Indianapolis 500 race. He drives for the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team, which is part-owned by TV host David Letterman and his own father, Bobby Rahal, who was also a successful racing driver in his time. Bobby Rahal actually scored a win in the 1986 Indianapolis 500 race, so son Graham has a little way to go before he catches up with the old man!
10 Keke and Nico Rosberg
Formula 1 has seen more than its fair share of father and son teams. It seems to be a sport that encourages sons to follow in their father’s footsteps, at least if some of the very successful family duos on this list are anything to go by. Nico Rosberg retired from Formula 1 in 2016, just after he won the World Championship following a tough battle with his own Mercedes teammate, Lewis Hamilton. Rosberg’s father, known as Keke, was also a successful Grand Prix driver, winning the World Championship himself in 1982. The Finnish driver, whose real name was Keijo Erik, was one of the most popular racers of his generation.
9 Sir Jack and David Brabham
Sir Jack Brabham was another Formula 1 star knighted for his services to motor racing, although unlike Stirling Moss, he did actually win three World Championships—in 1959, 1960, and 1966. The star, who was born in New South Wales, Australia, was followed into motor racing by all three of his sons, Geoffrey, Graham, and David, but it was the youngest son, David, who had by far the most successful career. He headed to the States for his racing adventures, however, winning the American Le Mans Series in 2009 and 2010, as well as becoming the first Australian to win the actual Le Mans race in 2009.
8 Big Al and Little Al Unser
Big Al Unser, as he was affectionately known, has one of the most enviable records in the iconic Indianapolis 500 race, winning it four times in his career—in 1970, 1971, 1978, and 1987. He was only the second person to win the famous race on four different occasions and became only the fourth driver to win the race in consecutive years. His son, Al Unser Jr—or Little Al Unser, as he was known to motor racing enthusiasts—also took up motor racing, and scored two wins of his own in the Indianapolis 500 race in 1992 and 1994.
7 Alain and Nicolas Prost
Frenchman Alain Prost started racing in Formula 1 in 1980, going on to win four World Championships—in 1985, 1986, 1989, and in his comeback year, 1993. He secured an impressive 33 pole positions and 105 podium finishes during his successful career. His son, Nicolas Prost (known as Nico) has also decided that a career in motor racing is for him, taking part in the FIA World Endurance Championship, as well as a number of Le Mans 24 Hour Races, and has even taken part in an ice-racing championship called the Andros Trophy, as well as spending time as an Formula 1 reserve driver at Lotus.
6 Wilson and Christian Fittipaldi
Brazil is a country that may be more famous for its soccer players, but the country has also produced plenty of motor racing drivers, including father and son duo Wilson and Christian Fittipaldi. Wilson raced in Formula 1 for a few years in the early 1970s before going on to run his own Grand Prix team called Fittipaldi Formula 1. His son, Christian, also took part in a number of Formula 1 races, as well as Champ Car and NASCAR competitions in the US. His cousin, Emerson Fittipaldi, is another successful member of this motor racing dynasty, who won the Formula 1 World Championship in 1972 and 1974 and the Indianapolis 500 in 1989 and 1993.
5 Graham and Damon Hill
When Damon Hill won the Formula One World Championship in 1996, for many British motor racing fans, it was as if time had stood still and they were immediately transported back to the days of the mid-1960s when his father, Graham, had won two Formula 1 championships in 1962 and 1968. The two men may have shared great motor racing skills, but in many ways, they couldn’t have been more different. Graham was a suave and debonair gentleman, who trained himself to be a pilot, while Damon was a much more down-to-earth character, who has taken up a media career in the sport since his retirement.
4 Gilles and Jacques Villeneuve
Gilles and Jacques Villeneuve were another father-son duo who both enjoyed successes in Formula 1. Gilles, who was born in Quebec, Canada in 1950, came closest to winning the Formula 1 world championship with his second place finish in 1979. Tragically, he passed away just a few years later, in 1982, when he suffered fatal injuries during a crash during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix. His son, Jacques, was determined to follow in his father’s footsteps—and to go one better—and he took his one and only Formula 1 World Championship title in 1997, before making a move to NASCAR racing after his Grand Prix retirement.
3 Satoru and Kazuki Nakajima
Japan has its own domestic motor racing scene, and drivers from Japan don’t tend to make much of an impact on motorsports in either Europe or the United States. The exceptions to the rule are Satoru Nakajima and his son, Kazuki, who have both taken part in Formula 1 races, as well as in other motorsports. Satoru started racing in the Japanese Top Formula Championship before moving to Grand Prix racing in 1987. His son, Kazuki, started out in Formula 1, racing for the Williams-Toyota team, before making the switch to the World Endurance Championship and winning the 2018 Le Mans 24 Hour Race.
2 Jos and Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen is one of the hottest young stars of Formula One, making his debut in the sport at the age of just 17—in 2015— at the Australian Grand Prix, making him the youngest Formula 1 driver ever. He also became the youngest driver to win a Formula 1 race when took first position at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix the following year. He is only 21, yet already has five Grand Prix wins and 22 podium finishes. Motor racing is clearly in the blood for this young man, as he is the son of former Formula 1 driver Jos Verstappen, who only retired from the sport to mentor his son.
1 Mario, Michael, and Marco Andretti
Mario Andretti is one of the greatest all-rounders in motorsport history. He is one of only two drivers to win races in Formula 1, IndyCar, World Sportscar Championship, and NASCAR, as well as being the only man ever to win the Indianapolis 500 (in 1969), the Daytona 500 (in1967), and the Formula 1 World Championship (in 1978). His son, Michael, and grandson, Marco, both had a tough act to follow when they decided that they were also going to launch careers in motorsport. Michael won four IndyCar Series championships and five Indianapolis 500 races, while Marco is currently racing in the IndyCar Series.
Sources: Review Journal, Fox Sports, Racer, and Racing News.