Lake Speed

Lake Speed

17/1/1948

Speed started racing when he was just twelve. He raced non-stop every season until 1998, when he was hurt in an accident. During his career he had over four hundred Winston Cup starts and seventy four top ten finishes. In 1988 at the Darlington Raceway he took his only Winston Cup Victory.

Lake Chambers Speed was born in Jackson, Mississippi. His father became the Mayor of Jackson in 1948, the year Lake was born. Lake started racing at the age of thirteen in karts. He won the International Karting Federation (IKF) National Championship six times and in 1978, won the prestigious Karting World Championship beating Ayrton Senna.

In 1980 after considering a career in road racing racing, Speed chose to enter NASCAR racing. Speed started nineteen races in his rookie year and put in some respectable results to finish twenty-second in the points and second to Jody Ridley for rookie of the year honours. In 1981 he improved to finish eighteenth in points.

1982 was his first full year on the Winston Cup circuit. Driving for Roger Hamby he had a difficult season finishing twentieth in the points.

He ran a limited schedule for Hoss Elington in 1983 scoring a fourth at Rockingham and a sixth at Darlington. At Talladega Speed was leading the field late in the race but was caught and passed by Richard Petty and Benny Parsons. The following week he scored another top ten with a sixth in the World 600 at Charlotte. 1984 was a similar story.

He ran a full schedule in 1985 and started the season finishing second to Bill Elliott in the Daytona 500. A tenth at Richmond International Raceway and a fourth at Rockingham saw Lake taking the points lead early in the season. After a retirement at Atlanta, he put in a strong run finishing seventh at Bristol, ninth at Darlington and at North Wilkesboro, eighth at Martinsville and tenth at Talladega. Speed then finished sixth in the World 600. With a number of other top ten finishes it turned out to be Speed's best year in terms of points, finishing tenth in the final standings.

After a moderate start to the 1986 season he was dropped after the fourth race. Without a drive Speed decided to start his own team in 1987 with Wynn's sponsorship. He had a decent year considering the new team and in 1988 continued to improve winning his first and only NASCAR Winston Cup race on March 27 at Darlington in the TranSouth 500. Speed ened the season in seventeenth place in points.

Speed had a number of strong finishes in 1989 but was injured in a crash in July at Pocono when he tangled with Greg Sacks.

In 1990 Speed was only participated in six races, finishing just twice and though 1991 was an improvement in terms of race starts, Speed struggled to fit in racing for Cale Yarborough so, in 1992, Speed went back to his own team.

After starting 1993 with his own team he joined Robert Yates Racing mid-season, following Davey Allison's death. Speed ran well in the three races for the team but was then  replaced by Ernie Irvan. Two races later he replaced Geoff Bodine with Bud Moore.

Speed remained with Moore for the 1994 season starting with a sixth at Atlanta, a fifth at Darlington and a third at Bristol. A number of other top ten finishes lefthim in eleventh in the NASCAR points at the end of the year.

He joined Harry Melling for the 1995 finishing twenty-third in the points. During the season Speed was involved in a contra temps with Michael Waltrip in the Miller Genuine Draft 400. Michael blocked Speed's car in the pits, angry with Speed for blocking him out on the track. He went up to Speed's car and began throwing punches at Speed, who was still wearing his helmet. Waltrip's actions resulted in a $10,000 fine.

A few top tens followed in an unmemorable season in 1996 though he briefly led a race in Michigan before colliding with Sterling Marlin.

With limited sponsorship, he only ran a few races in 1997 and in 1998 after showing some early season promise he crashed in the second practice session at Sears Point. He broke his sternum and was replaced by Butch Gilliand for one race. He returned at New Hampshire but got caught up in another crash which aggravated his injury.

After the race he retired from NASCAR racing and was replaced by Jerry Nadeau.

During his career, Speed also started six NASCAR Busch Series races between 1983 and 1984. In Winston Cup races, he had over four hundred starts and seventy four top ten finishes and over four million dollars in winnings.

He is currently the Chairman or the Board for the Christian fellowship Motor Racing Outreach and is in the real estate business.

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