Bobby Wawak (September 4, 1939 – April 17, 2004) was an American NASCAR driver from Villa Park, Illinois. He made 141 Grand National/Winston Cup (now Sprint Cup) starts, with fourteen top-10 finishes.
Wawak's No. 74 at Pocono Raceway in 1985
|Born||September 4, 1939|
Villa Park, Illinois
|Died||April 17, 2004(aged 64)|
|NASCAR Cup Series career|
|141 races run over 17 years|
|Best finish||22nd (1976)|
|First race||1965 Southern 500 (Darlington)|
|Last race||1987 AC Delco 500 (Rockingham)|
|Statistics current as of December 17, 2012.|
He began drag racing as a teenager. He raced in his first stock car race at around 1958 at Mance Park Speedway in Hodgkins, Illinois. He raced regularly at the O’Hare Stadium in Schiller Park, Illinois. He competed in both the cadet (sportsman) and late model divisions.
In 1974 he was the late model stock car champion at Illiana Motor Speedway in Schererville, Indiana. He competed at the track in 1973 and 1974, winning 14 features at that half mile asphalt track in his 1971 Ford Torino. He won 21 total races (including preliminary events) in 1974.
National touring seriesEdit
Wawak competed on the USAC stock car circuit in 1965. He made six races with a sixth-place finish in one event during his rookie season. He finished 18th in the final USAC standings that year. Wawak did not return to USAC racing until 1969 and would compete on a limited basis into the early 1970s.
Wawak made occasional NASCAR starts before 1976, except for making 14 NASCAR starts in 1967. His first start was in the 1965 Southern 500 at Darlington Speedway. He started 27th, and finished 36th with engine problems.
The fuel line on his car came loose on the third lap of the 1977 Daytona 500, and the fire came into the car's cockpit. Wawak jumped from the car while it was still moving (and slammed into the inside wall moments later), held up his burnt hands, and ran to the infield care center. "It was like sitting in front of a blow torch," Wawak said later. He made six more starts that year.
He continued racing in NASCAR, and made 96 more NASCAR starts. His career ended when he crashed in the first qualifier for the 1988 Daytona 500, Wawak suffering a fractured vertebra and detached retinas. Randy LaJoie raced in one race in his car in 1988, and Mike Potter raced three races in 1990.
He appeared in NASCAR Thunder 2004 as an unlockable driver in a car numbered 36.
At age 64, Wawak died on April 17, 2004. He was survived by his wife Stevi, daughters, Jaclin Wawak and Robin Wawak Pemberton and grandchildren, Lauri Trotter and River Pemberton, in addition to two brothers, Allen Wawak and Richard Wawak; three sisters, Carole Tarvash, Joyce Annanie, and Marilyn Zmich.