Predominantly black paint schemes are pretty rare in NASCAR, all things considered, but that doesn’t mean drivers clad in black cars haven’t enjoyed their fair share of success in both the present day and the far distant past.
In fact, drivers in vehicles splashed with mostly dark hues have been among the most successful in the history of the sport.
So whether you’re reading this on Black Friday or in the dead of summer, let’s take a gander at five wheelmen who’ve had no trouble putting their ebony car colors in Victory Lane.
After switching from the yellow and blue hues of primary sponsor Wrangler to the iconic black paint scheme of primary sponsor GM Goodwrench in 1988, Dale Earnhardt spent the last 13-plus seasons of his legendary career as “The Man in Black.”
While driving the black No. 3 Chevrolet fielded by Richard Childress Racing, Earnhardt captured four of his record-tying seven premier series championships and scored 45 wins — including the biggest win of his career, which came at the 1998 Daytona 500.
Earnhardt has been gone now for almost 22 years, but it’s fair to say that no NASCAR driver before or since his time has ever been more closely associated with a black car than him.
When Dale Earnhardt was making the black and white No. 3 car famous, Rusty Wallace was doing the same in the black and gold No. 2 car of Penske Racing.
Wallace, who switched to a Miller Lite-sponsored black car in 1990 — one year after winning the Cup Series championship and two years after Dale Earnhardt’s switch to black — continued in these colors through the 1996 season, powering his way to 30 of his 55 career wins at NASCAR’s highest level.
Wallace engaged in some memorable battles with Earnhardt over this seven-year stretch, including quite a few during the 1993 season when he finished runner-up to “The Intimidator” in the championship fight.
Hueytown, Alabama’s Davey Allison burst onto the NASCAR scene in 1987, winning two races as a rookie for Robert Yates Racing.
It wasn’t until 1990, however, that the son of 1983 Cup Series champion and 84-time Cup Series race winner Bobby Allison went primarily black with his No. 28 Ford that carried the colors of primary sponsor Texaco Havoline.
Allison continued to campaign his black Ford Thunderbird up until his tragic death in July 1993, winning 13 points-paying races along the way, in addition to the non-points-paying 1991 and 1992 All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway — the latter of which he claimed in dramatic fashion when he collided and crashed after contact with Kyle Petty’s black Mello Yellow-sponsored car coming to the checkered flag.
When Davey Allison died, Robert Yates Racing tabbed Ernie Irvan to take over Allison’s black No. 28 car, and Irvan quickly proved to be a terrific choice when he won at Martinsville in just his fourth start in the coveted ride.
Irvan then returned to Victory Lane two weekends later at Charlotte, which proved to be enough for Robert Yates Racing to name him the full-time driver of the black No. 28 for the 1994 season.
In that 1994 campaign, Irvan won three of the first 20 races and was in a tight battle with Dale Earnhardt for the series championship when he suffered serious brain injuries in a crash at Michigan in August. But, miraculously, Irvan returned to competition late in the 1995 season and returned to Victory Lane in 1996, when he picked up a pair of wins in the black No. 28. His final win in the car came in 1997 at Michigan — the same track where he suffered life-threatening injuries almost three years earlier.
The past season-and-a-half in the NASCAR Xfinity Series has been extremely kind to Ty Gibbs, the Huntersville, North Carolina teenager who earlier this month was crowned the 2022 champion in NASCAR’s No. 2 division.
Ty, grandson of NASCAR Hall of Fame team owner Joe Gibbs, has picked up 11 wins since jumping in an Xfinity Series car for the first time in 2021 — and the vast majority of those wins have come with an almost entirely black paint scheme on his No. 54 Monster Energy-sponsored Toyota.
Gibbs will campaign the same number — and the same Monster Energy colors — when he goes full-time Cup Series racing for his grandfather’s team in 2023.