NASCAR Earnhardt Auto Racing
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NASCAR Earnhardt Auto Racing

Happy Father’s Day! Wherever you go in life, it’s likely your dad helped steer you there. Whether you followed him into the family business, or took his advice when it came time to choose a college major, it’s unlikely any of us would be where we are today were it not for our dads.

This is especially true in the racing world, where sons (and the occasional daughter) follow in their dad’s footsteps and build a career in motorsports. To commemorate this year’s father’s day celebrations, we put together a list of 20 of the best known fathers and their offspring in the racing world.

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Dale Earnhardt Sr., and his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

If you take one thing away from this list, it’s that a famous last name rarely guarantees a successful racing career.

That fact, of course, doesn’t apply to the Earnhardt family. Dale Earnhardt Sr. (left) was already a NASCAR legend when his son barged into the top tier of stock car racing in 1999. Junior (right) took his first win the following season. Unfortunately, the pair would only race together a short time, as Earnhardt Sr. was tragically killed in the 2001 season opener at Daytona.
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Mario Andretti and his son, Michael Andretti, and grandson Marco Andretti

Perhaps the only American racing family that could match the Earnhardts in terms of outright fame, the Andretti family has essentially done it all in the racing world. Patriarch Mario (center) remains one of America’s few Formula 1 World Champions. Before he did that, though, he took wins at the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500, making him the only man on the planet to capture all three crowns. His son, Michael (left), hasn’t had the same success – he never won Indy and his Formula 1 career was short lived – although he did found the highly successful Andretti Autosport team, for which his son Marco (right) competes.
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Richard Petty and his son, Kyle Petty

Few families highlight the unpredictability of motorsports like the Pettys. Lee Petty (not pictured) was the first man to win the Daytona 500 and captured three NASCAR championships. His son, Richard (left, background), is one of the greatest drivers in all of motorsports, matching his seven NASCAR championships with seven Daytona 500 wins. Then there’s Kyle (right, foreground). Richard’s only son, Kyle’s best Sprint Cup finish was fifth and his best Daytona finish was seventh.
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AJ Foyt, his son Larry Foyt, and grandson, AJ Foyt IV

Yet another big name in American racing, the Foyt family patriarch, AJ (center), is by far the most successful member. He captured Indy’s Borg-Warner Trophy four times, won the Daytona 500, the 24 Hours of Daytona, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a feat that still hasn’t been repeated. By comparison, his adopted son, Larry (right), and his biological grandson, AJ Foyt IV (left), have failed to record a single high-level win. 
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Al Unser Sr., and his son, Al Unser Jr.

Another family that made its name in open-wheel racing, Al Unser (right) is a four-time Indy winner and a two-time title holder in the now-defunct Champ Car series. His son, Al Jr. (left), meanwhile, has an impressive record, too. He finished at the top of the table in the Indy Car series twice, and won the 500 twice, too. Outside of the father-son pair, Al Sr.’s older brothers, Jerry and Bobby, both raced on the professional level. Like Al Jr., Bobby has two Indy Car championship trophies to his name, not to mention his three wins at Indy.

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Gilles Villeneuve and his son, Jacques Villeneuve

We’ll move away from America and head north, to two of Canada’s most popular drivers – the late Gilles Villeneuve (left), and his son, Jacques (right). Unlike our previous entries, Jacques has been the most successful, winning the Formula 1 World Championship in 1994 and the Champ Car title in 1995. That might not have been the case, though, were it not for the tragic accident that cut down his father, Gilles, in his prime.

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Sir Jack Brabham with his sons David, Geoff, and Gary Brabham

Sir Jack Brabham (right) remains one of Australia’s greatest motorsports icon, winning the Formula 1 World Championship three times. His sons, Geoff (middle left), Gary (middle right), and David (left), though, have made something of a reputation as endurance racers. David, the youngest, has four class wins at the 12 Hours of Sebring and four wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (one overall win and three class wins). Geoff, the oldest, also has an overall victory at Circuit de la Sarthe and two wins in Sebring, while the middle child, Gary, has an overall victory at the 12-hour Floridian race.

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Graham Hill and his son, Damon Hill

Father-son Formula 1 Championships are exceedingly rare, but it’s an achievement Graham and Damon Hill can lay claim to. Father Graham (right) has a pair of driver’s championships to son Damon’s (pictured here as a young boy) single crown, although the latter has more F1 victories in fewer starts. Unfortunately, it’s unclear how high Graham would have soared, as he was killed in a plane crash at the age of 46.
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Bobby Rahal and his son, Graham Rahal

While better known as one part of the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team, father Bobby Rahal (right) had a successful racing career of his own, winning three CART championships over an 18-year run. He’s also a one-time Indy 500 winner. His son, Graham (left), has been a fixture in the Indy Car series and the Champ Car league before that, although he has, so far, failed to match his father’s accomplishments.
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Keke Rosberg and his son, Nico Rosberg

Father over son seems to be the trend in this list, but for this entry, dad may not stay ahead for long. Keke Rosberg (left) took a Formula One World Championship during a nine-year career. His son, though, is closing in. After a four-year teething period with Williams, Nico Rosberg’s (right) career has taken off with the Mercedes team. He’s recorded ten wins and finished second to teammate Lewis Hamilton last season, which is where he sits during the 2015 season.
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Jan Magnussen and his son, Kevin Magnussen

One of the newer father-son pairs to make the news, dad Jan Magnussen (left) is best known as a pilot for Corvette Racing, where he’s registered four class victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. As for his son, Kevin (right), he’s has 19 Formula 1 starts for McLaren to his credit, including a podium finish during his rookie season. Currently, though, he’s serving as the British team’s test-reserve driver.
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Jos "The Boss" Verstappen and his son, Max Verstappen

The Verstappen name is a familiar one to Formula 1 fans. Father Jas “The Boss” (left), competed for an array of teams during the mid 1990s through the early 2000s, while his son, Max (right), is making waves now as the youngest driver in the sport’s history. He was closer to his seventeenth birthday than his eighteenth when he took his first F1 start for Scuderia Toro Rosso, the same team that bred four-time champ Sebastian Vettel and current Red Bull Racing stars Daniel Riccardo and Daniil Kvyat.
carlos sainz son red bull toro rosso
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Carlos Sainz Sr. and his son, Carlos Sainz Jr.

In case you haven’t noticed, some of the dads on this list leave some very big shoes to fill. With 19 seasons in the World Rally Championship under his belt, including two championships, Carlos Sainz (left) is one of those dads. Perhaps that’s why son Carlos Jr. (right) took to open-wheelers rather than dirt and forest trails. He’s in his first season in Formula 1, and like the younger Verstappen on this list, he’s also a member of Scuderia Toro Rosso.
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Nelson Piquet Sr. and his son, Nelson Piquet Jr.

One of Brazil’s long line of Formula 1 World Champions, Nelson Piquet (right) captured three titles over a career that spanned from 1978 to 1991. His son, though, is largely famous for one thing – Crashgate. Nelson Jr. (left) was racing for the Renault F1 team when he, along with team principal Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds, were accused of intentionally crashing at the Singapore Grand Prix, so as to give a leg-up to teammate Fernando Alonso. Piquet Jr. cooperated with the FIA investigation and was consequentially granted immunity (although Briatore and Symonds weren’t nearly so lucky). He’s currently racing in the inaugural Formula E championship.
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Derek Bell and his son, Justin Bell

The Bell family are yet another of England’s father-son pairings. Dad Derek (right) is a legend at Le Mans, recording five overall wins in the 24-hour race, including four in just six years. Son Justin (left) might be better known to US fans for his commenting career, covering the American Le Mans Series and other motorsports events for the former Speed Channel. He also has a Le Mans class victory of his own, driving a Team Oreca Viper to victory back in 1998.
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John Force and his daughters, Ashley Force Hood and Courtney Force

John Force (left) is to drag racing what Michael Schumacher is to Formula 1, or Richard Petty is to NASCAR. He’s a 16-time funny car champion, 12 of which were won in a 13-year period. Like their dad, both of Force’s daughters have competed in the NHRA’s funny car ranks. Ashley (middle) became the first woman to win a top fuel funny car race when she bested her champion father back in 2008, while Courtney (right), the youngest of three sisters, is the winningest woman in the NHRA.
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Bobby Allison and his son, Davey Allison

Bobby Allison (right) is a legend from NASCAR’s glory days, but while some might remember his family for his NASCAR championship and three Daytona 500 wins, they’re better known for tragedy. Bobby’s sons, Davey (pictured, left) and Clifford were both killed in the early 1990s. Clifford was killed during a practice session at Michigan International Speedway, while Davey, a Daytona 500 winner, died from injuries sustained in a helicopter crash at Talladega less than a year later.  
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Bobby Hamilton Sr. and his son, Bobby Hamilton Jr.

While the Hamilton family failed to capture a NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, father Bobby Sr. (right) and son Bobby Jr. (left) were fixtures in the stock-car series for nearly 20 years. The late Senior was the NASCAR Rookie of the Year in 1991 and managed to win the Craftsman Truck Series in 2004. Junior, meanwhile, has a handful of wins in the Xfinity Championship.
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Bill Elliot and his son, Chase Elliot

Yet another NASCAR legend, Bill Elliot (left) is a two-time Daytona 500 winner and has a Sprint Cup championship on his mantle, as part of a career that spans from the late 1970s to the early 2010s. His son, Chase (right), is making waves of his own in the stock car world. He has three wins in just two seasons in the Xfinity Series, and is slated to take over Jeff Gordon’s number 24 Chevrolet Sprint Cup car, as the multiple-time champion begins his retirement in 2016.
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Parnelli Jones and his son, PJ Jones

The legendary Parnelli Jones (left) has competed in just about every series there is to race in here in the United States. He’s won the Indy 500, and has a trio of sprint car championships to his name, along with life-long association with any Ford Mustang Boss 302 finished in School Bus Yellow. PJ (right), his son, has nearly as varied a career, competing in all three major NASCAR series and starting at Indy on four separate occasions. Like his father, PJ also competed in sports cars, although his success was decidedly limited.
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