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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Ernie Irvan #36 Skittles Wildberry Pontiac

    During the early 1990's, Ernie Irvan had transformed himself into a legitimate championship contender~ That would all change on August 20th 1994, when he was involved in a horrible accident during practice for the GM Goodwrench 400 @ Michigan~ Irvan was running practice laps when his right front tire went out, sending Irvan's car into the turn two wall at over 170 mph~ Emergency workers frantically worked to extricate Ernie from the car, and he was airlifted to Saint Joseph's Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan~

    Diagnosed with critical brain and lung injuries, Irvan was given only a 10% chance to make it through the night~ Ernie clung to life, and by early September, he was listed in "fair" condition, and was removed from ventilator support~ A few weeks later, he was transferred to the Charlotte Institute of Rehabilitation~ A few weeks after the transfer, Ernie appeared and addressed fans at the Charlotte Motor Speedway before the start of the UAW-GM 500~

    On September 16th 1995, Irvan was clear for competition by NASCAR~ His first attempt at qualifying came in a CTS race @ Martinsville, but qualifying was rained out, and the field was set by points standings~  The following weekend at North Wilksboro,  Irvan qualified his truck on the front row~ Six laps into the race, Irvan passed pole sitter Mike Skinner for the lead~

    He lead another 23 laps before mechanical problems sidelined him~  On October 1st @ North Wilksboro, Irvan made his return to the Cup Series~ Since Dale Jarrett had taken over the seat of the #28 car, Ernie instead ran the #88, also sponsored by Texaco~ After starting 7th, Irvan quickly moved up and took the lead on lap 125~ He led 31 laps, and finished in 6th~

                                                       Irvan crashing the Wildberry car~
Ernie Irvan #36 crash Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog

    Irvan was back in the #28 for the start of the 1996 season, and Jarrett, as his teammate, piloted the #88 ride~ The season started off well, with Irvan qualifying on the front row of the Daytona 500, along side Dale Earnhardt~ During Speedweeks, Irvan captured his first victory since the Michigan crash, winning the 125 mile qualifying race for the Daytona 500~

    Irvan followed that up by winning the pole for the spring race at Talladega, and scored victories @ New Hampshire and Richmond~ Irvan's final Cup victory was an emotional one, coming @ Michigan, the track that nearly cost him his life 3 years earlier~ He finished 14th in the points standings, but was released at the end of the season~

    For the 1998 season, Irvan teamed up with MB2 Motorsports to drive the #36 Skittles Pontiac~ During the year he scored 11 top 10's, and earned 3 poles, despite missing the final 3 races while recovering from injuries sustained from a crash @ Talladega in October~ He finished the season winless, and 19th in the points standings~

    His son, Jared, was born on February 9th 1998~ The 1999 season saw a sponsor change for Irvan, with M&M's now on board~ Exactly 5 years after his near fatal accident, at the same track, Irvan crashed his own #84 Federated Auro Parts Pontiac in a practice session for the BGN race~

    He was again airlifted from the track, and diagnosed with a mild head injury, and a bruised lung~ Two weeks later, on September 3rd, 1999, Irvan, surrounded by his wife and two children, tearfully announced his retirement from driving in a press conference @ Darlington~ The reasoning for the retirement was to prevent future accidents, and that he had a family to take care of~

                                              Ernie Irvan #36 Skittles Wildberry Pontiac~
Ernie Irvan #36 Skittles Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog
                                                            Click pics to enlarge~
Ernie Irvan #36 Skittles Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog

    As a Racing Champions fan, I've got a few problems with this car~ I'm more of a fan of the early RC cars, the "cruder" ones~ Although the car is very nice looking, as far as the paint goes.. I'm a little upset with the way the tires look, and the window net is not appealing, imo~ These newer RC cars look a little strange sitting beside the older versions~ I do however love the pink car, and pretty much any pink car ever made~ I remember Patty Moise ran a pink car in the Busch Series back when I was young, and I got a piece of the sheet metal off her car after a Bristol race once~ It has since been lost, sadly~

    The card isn't that appealing either~ Gone are the days of having the drivers face on the card, as well as having the driver info and autograph on the back of the card~ These cars are also much lighter than the earlier versions of Racing Champions~ All in all though, it's a nice looking car, probably one of the best paint schemes Irvan ever had~ Much better than the original red Skittles car~

    In March of 2000, Ernie's house caught on fire, destroying all of his trophies~ NASCAR presented him with replicas of the lost trophies~ He now crew chiefs for his son Jared~ Irvan ended his Cup career with 15 wins, 124 top 10's, and 22 poles during 12 years, and 313 races~ I purposely didn't get into the beginning of his career, due to the fact that I still have some more Irvan cars to review~ If you would like to contact me, you can do so by email @ Below are some videos on his career~ Enjoy, and as always, thanks for stopping by~

                                                      1994 GM Goodwrench 400 Intro~

                                                         All of Ernie's Cup wins~

                                                         1991 Diehard 500 apology~

                                                1996 UAW-GM Quality 500 Hard Crash~

                                                    TNT Pre-race segment on Irvan~

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