(April 15, 1998)
You won't find Buddy Arrington's name up among the all-time winners in NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National history. In fact, Arrington never won a race in 24 years, and his best career finish was third -- he did that twice, in 1965 and '79.
However, there weren't many that were more tenacious and had more pure determination than Arrington. He was consistent and successful in those 24 seasons without ever enjoying the benefit of factory backing or a major sponsor. Income from his own service station and used car dealership made up for the bills his race winnings didn't cover.
When he started, he started at the top. Arrington ran no Hobby, Modified or Sportsman events to gain experience, simply deciding he wanted to race. He bought a Dodge from legendary car builder Cotton Owens and then proceeded to finish eighth in his first race of any kind, in 1964.
In 1968, Arrington struck a deal with Chrysler, but the manufacturer pulled out of racing the next year. Despite that, Arrington stuck with Chrysler products throughout 20 of his 24 years, without formal factory support.
On a good day, his 358 cubic inch engine, which he prepared himself, was capable of about 500 horsepower. In 19 of 30 races, Arrington finished in the top-20 in one of his favorite cars, his old No. 67.
At the end of the 1983 season, Arrington's total career winnings stood at just over $1 million. He was the first driver to reach that milestone without a victory. In mid-season 1985, his car was retired and despite never having posted a win, it is on display for fans to see amid some very impressive company at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and Museum in Talladega, Ala.