Charles “Red” Farmer, whose racing career has spanned six decades, has been named as the 1999 recipient of the prestigious Governor of Alabama Award, given each year by the International Motorsports Hall of Fame to an individual or organization whose contributions to motorsports have been significant.
Farmer, who began racing in the 1940’s and is still active on area dirt tracks, joins such notable previous winners as Bill France, Jr., Tony George, Roger Penske, T. Wayne Robertson, Rick Hendrick, Lisa France Kennedy and Brian France. Farmer is the first Alabama resident to be so honored, as well as the first driver.
The Governor’s Award will be presented to Farmer as part of the Motorsports Hall of Fame’s 9th Annual Induction Ceremony, to be held in the Speedvision Dome on Thursday night, April 22nd. The formal affair will be attended by over 1,500 people.
Among Farmer’s career accomplishments are a NASCAR Modified championship in 1956, three consecutive NASCAR Late Model Sportsman titles 1969-70-71, a win in the very first ARCA race at Daytona in 1969, and more than 734 career feature wins in various forms of racing. On the occasions he was able to run Winston Cup races, he did well, with a best finish of 4th at Talladega in 1974.
Farmer has won track championships all over Alabama, and continues to race on a weekly basis, driving his famous #F-97 at the Talladega Short Track most Saturday nights. Farmer’s continuous sponsorship by Long-Lewis Ford goes back to 1962, ten years before STP began sponsoring Richard Petty. In addition to his own racing, he also serves as crew chief for Jimmy Kitchens’ effort on NASCAR’s Busch Series.
Numerous honors have come Farmer’s way, including being designated as one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers during their first 50 years (1948-1998). He was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1990. In February, Farmer was honored as one of the Living Legends of Auto Racing in a ceremony in Daytona Beach. Four times he was named NASCAR’S Most Popular Driver.
There are two areas of debate that arise when Red Farmer’s name is mentioned. One is his age, and the other is which facet of racing he was better at, building the cars or driving them. The most reliable birthday for Farmer is October 15th, 1932, but the debate still rages over whether Farmer was a better driver, or better car builder.
Married for nearly 50 years, Red and his wife Joan have three grown children, Bonnie, Cindy and Mike, and several grandchildren.