Banjo Matthews
Banjo Matthews
Category: At Large
CLASS OF: 2022
BORN: February 14, 1932
DIED: October 2, 1996

NASCAR Cup Series (1952-1985)
One of the most successful car builders in 1960s, ‘70s & ‘80s
Successful owner from 1957-1974
Owner victories: 9. Owner poles: 14. Owner starts: 160
Won three Firecracker 400s with three different drivers
Built hundreds of winning chassis for other Cup Series teams
Banjo-built cars won three series titles (1976, 1977, 1978)
Started 50 races as a driver (1952-63), earning three poles


2000 inductee Smokey Yunick called him “the Henry Ford of race cars.” The cars Edwin Keith Matthews built dominated the sport for more than a decade. From 1974 to 1985, he produced about 400 and rebuilt about 200. Of the 362 races in this period, his cars won 262 of them — over 70% — including all 30 1978 races. For many years, the Akron, OH native was more proud that no driver was ever killed driving a Banjo Matthews-built car. Matthews started his career at 15 at Pompano Speedway. He drove in about 500 modified races from 1948-52, winning 35. From 1952 to 1963, he started 50 NASCAR Cup Series races, earning three poles and a second. As an owner, he entered 160 Cup races, capturing 14 poles and nine victories, including three Firecracker 400s with Fireball Roberts, A. J. Foyt and Donnie Allison. Matthews was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame in 1996 and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1998.

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