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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Harry Gant #7 Manheim Auctions Chevrolet

    Today's post is gonna be a bit short for a couple reasons, one of those reasons is that today is my birthday~ The other reason is that I have 5 Harry Gant cars to review, and so I'm only gonna talk about the specific car for each of his posts~ Today, I chose his 1994 #7 Manheim Chevrolet, which he ran during 17 races that season~ 1994 would mark the end of a famed NASCAR career for Gant, who at the age of 54, was still running competitively and winning races, at least in the BGN series~ I say it marked the end, but Gant actually was talked into making a comeback in the Truck Series, where he ran 11 races in 1996 at the age of 56, netting him 4 top 10 finishes~

    Harry started his 1994 BGN campaign off strong, with a 4th place qualifying effort driving for legendary car owner Ed Whitaker, but finished the race 32nd due to engine troubles on lap 60~ The next race of the season was the Goodwrench 200 @ Rockingham, where Gant started 7th, and finished runner up to Terry Labonte~ The following race was the Hardee's Frisco 250 @ Richmond, and once again, Gant ran a strong race, qualifying 8th, and finishing in the 3rd position behind Kenny Wallace and race winner Joe Nemechek, although 1 lap down~ This was also the only victory in Nemechek's 1994 campaign~

                                                  Gant in the #7 Manheim car @ Bristol~
Harry Gant #7 Manheim Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1994 BGN age


    The 4th race of the season was the Busch Light 300 @ Atlanta, where Harry qualified poorly, in 23rd, but was able to climb his way to the top and secure his only victory of the season~ This wasn't just a run of the mill BGN field either, in the field that day were superstar Cup drivers such as Dale Earnhardt, Terry and Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett, and Ernie Irvan, as well as a strong Busch field, with drivers like Joe Nemechek, Kenny and Mike Wallace, Michael Waltrip (was in Cup by then, but I put him as a Busch driver because he wasn't any good in Cup), Robert Presley, Johnny Benson, Ricky Craven, David Green, and Larry Pearson, amongst others~ This man just beat all of those guys, dominated really.. leading 86 of the 197 laps, at the age of 54!~ He seemed to never age, and to this day, basically looks as he did that very day, back in 1994~

    Harry skipped the Martinsville BGN race, but was back for the 6th event, the Mark III Vans 200 @ Darlington, where he started 3rd, and finished 5th~ He skipped the next event, held at Hickory due to his Cup Schedule~  The next race, the Goody's 250 @ Bristol, Gant nearly grabbed the pole, with a 2nd place run, he led for 18 laps, before running out of steam, and finishing in 7th~ He didn't attempt to run the next 3 races, held @ Rougemont, Loudon, and Nazareth due to his Cup scheduling~ His next race came in the 12th event of the season, the Champion 300 @ Charlotte, where again he nearly grabbed the pole, qualifying on the front row and leading 36 laps before having problems with an oil pump on lap 87, leading to a 30th place finish~

                                              Gant wants you!~ Team Manheim wants you!~
Harry Gant #7 Manheim Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1994 BGN age


    Gant didn't have another top 10 finish until the 26th event of the season, the SplitFire 200 @ Dover, where he sat on the pole and finished runner up to Johnny Benson, after leading 106 of the 200 laps~ He did manage to also get the pole for the Food City 250 @ Bristol a few races earlier, but finished 28th after his engine gave out, after leading 58 of the 92 laps he completed~ Gant's final BGN start came in the final event on the 1994 schedule, the AC-Delco 200 @ Rockingham, where he had yet another amazing race, starting 5th, and finishing 4th, and leading 43 laps~ Although he only ran 17 of the 28 events, he managed to finish 23rd in the points standings, finishing the season with 1 win, 6 top 5's, 7 top 10's, 2 poles, and 370 laps led~

                                              Harry Gant #7 Manheim Auctions Chevrolet~
Harry Gant #7 Manheim Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Ed Whitaker Bristol
                                                           Click pics to enlarge~
Harry Gant #7 Manheim Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Ed Whitaker Bristol


    I think it's safe to say that Harry Gant proved that green isn't an un-lucky color in NASCAR~ Most of his career he was in a green car, winning or at least getting a top 5~ I watched countless races where he was the runner up~ I wouldn't be surprised if he held the record for finishing 2nd more than any other driver~ Racing Champions did another fantastic job with this car~ An added bonus is the Hoosier tires I love so very much~ I still wear my purple Hoosier tires hat to this day~

    I remember coming to the fall race @ Bristol, where Harry won the pole, and just feeling the excitement of the crowd as they cheered him on~ It felt like the entire crowd wanted him to win that day, and it was just a magic moment that you can only experience when you there live at the track~ You could almost feel the wind gush out of everyone's sails when he engine soured~ The rest of the event, people were just kind of  ho-hum, and had the look of bitter defeat in their eyes~

    Harry Gant meant so much to the fans of NASCAR, and he was and still is a very hard working, kind soul.. when I think about Harry, he reminds me of how hard of a worker my Dad always was and still is~ As time has gone on, it seems there are less and less of those kind of hard working people, who enjoy being out there and getting something done~ Those kind of people make me proud, and I'll always look up to them~ Below are some videos of Harry, including his final BGN win in full~ Enjoy, and as always, thank you all for stopping by~

                                                      Harry's final BGN win Atlanta~

                                                     1994 Food City 500 Gant crash~

                                                     1994 Coca Cola 600 Gant profile~

                                                 1991 Southern 500 Finish~ Gant win~
               

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