Matthews was known as the “Henry Ford of race cars” and an exceptional mechanic. From 1974 through 1985, cars Matthews built won 262 out of 362 NASCAR Cup Series races (including all 30 in 1978! ).
If you were fortunate enough to win a NASCAR race during the 1970s or 1980s, chances are your car started on a surface plate at Banjo‘s shop near Asheville, North Carolina.
Edwin Keith “Banjo” Matthews (1934-1996)
In the 1970s and ’80s, winning NASCAR races was almost guaranteed if your car began its journey at Banjo Matthews’ workshop. His master race-car builder was known for being tough yet fair competition who prioritized safety designs in his designs – Hall of Fame engineer Smokey Yunick once dubbed him “Henry Ford of race cars.”
Matthews began racing Modifieds at Pompano Beach Speedway in Florida at age 15, eventually winning more than 30 of these races as an owner and driver before beginning 50 Grand National/Winston Cup appearances, culminating with second place finishes at Atlanta 1954 and 160 car owner races, in which he scored nine victories and 14 pole positions overall with drivers Fireball Roberts, A.J. Foyt and Donnie Allison driving them three times during Firecracker 400 events he organized as owner/drivers.
Matthews constructed this Ford Talladega Prototype in August 1968, long before regular production Fords hit assembly lines. To comply with NASCAR rules he added a 7-gallon tank and nicknamed it Mr. X; later that April it went for photoshoot with Circle Track magazine! All documentation pertaining to it remains with it including original title documentation in Ford’s name as well as registration card loan contract invoice receipt from Ford and Marti report from 1968 onward.
NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee
Each year, the NASCAR Hall of Fame inducts three individuals into its ranks; this year’s class includes Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus and Donnie Allison who will all be honored at an induction ceremony on Friday, Jan 19th.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame induction process begins with a nomination committee composed of representatives from NASCAR and its Hall of Fame, track owners from major facilities as well as historic short tracks, drivers, media members and members from major media outlets. Following nomination, nominees are voted upon by a voting panel comprised of industry leaders and fans nationwide – this panel selects two for Modern Era and five on Pioneer Ballot ballots respectively.
This year’s Modern Era ballot featured 10 candidates including Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus and Donnie Allison as well as Neil Bonnett, Tim Brewer, Jeff Burton Carl Edwards Harry Gant Larry Phillips Ricky Rudd – any NASCAR driver, crew chief or team owner that competed for six years or longer as either driver, crew chief or team owner can apply to compete on it.
Modern Era balloting lasts 10 years and once an inductee is added to the Hall of Fame, their name cannot ever be removed from it. Landmark Award recipients, on the other hand, can be honored any point during their racing careers and may or may not necessarily have taken part in NASCAR during its entirety.
People on the Pioneer ballot were nominated by a committee consisting of current and former NASCAR Hall of Fame members, which included past champions, Squier-Hall Award recipients, as well as those who have made significant contributions to racing or to the Hall itself. A separate committee selects its winner.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame will honor the legacy of racer Hershel McGriff and longtime NASCAR competitor Matt Kenseth by displaying their memorabilia at the NASCAR Museum.
NASCAR’s Greatest Car Builder
Henry “Smokey” Yunick stands out in a sport with relatively straightforward regulations as one of its most iconic figures–or notoriously so. A multitasker in every sense, including crew chiefing and driving duties; engineering design duties; car building; crew chiefing duties and car building–he was considered the master of racecar engineering due to his innovative and often unconventional interpretation of rules that led him to success yet also stirred plenty of controversy.
Edwin Keith “Banjo” Matthews was one of the foremost car builders during the 1970s and ’80s, often producing winning Cup Series cars designed by him. Since beginning racing as a modified driver in 1954 – winning 50 races that year alone! – Banjo Matthews eventually retired to focus on car-building work full-time before opening Banjo’s Performance Center in Statesville, North Carolina.
Matthews constructed cars for drivers such as Cale Yarborough – who won three championships with Matthews-built cars between 1976 and 1978–and Hershel McGriff; these machines won numerous races across both decades.
This year’s Pioneer ballot includes five remarkable individuals: championship-winning crew chief Jake Elder, legendary crew chief Red Farmer, driver Hershel McGriff and car builders Ralph Moody and Banjo Matthews – each having made significant contributions to NASCAR history, making a lasting impression through their accomplishments and being honored during this October’s Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway on Oct 20. Their names will be read aloud during that ceremony as they enter into NASCAR Hall of Fame membership.
Banjo’s Performance Center
The banjo is the world’s most-played stringed instrument. It is used for various musical genres such as bluegrass and old-time music, offering its distinctive sound and versatility as an integral part of American heritage. Books and films have also explored this instrument which remains an enjoyable hobby among people of all ages.
Established as a non-profit in 1998, the American Banjo Museum (ABM) can be found in Guthrie, Oklahoma. The ABM founders believe that its purpose should be the preservation and promotion of America’s adopted native musical instrument as part of future generations’ education and cultural enrichment.
The ABM’s main aim is to establish a permanent home for the National Banjo Center in Eden, North Carolina. This would serve as a performing, educational, and historical center dedicated to American banjo playing culture – with exhibition spaces and performance spaces, plus research libraries and archives housed within it.
ABM’s founders are dedicated to building and fostering amateur and professional banjo players’ skills. They believe the instrument’s unique sounds and styles can encourage young musicians to continue studying it throughout their lives.
This week’s 1983 short track spec Cup car was constructed in Asheville, NC by Edwin Keith “Banjo” Matthews of Banjo’s Performance Center. Matthews started working for Holman Moody before opening up his own shop – winning 262 out of 362 Winston Cup races for them; including winning all 30 in 1978 alone!
The sleek-looking 1983 is a remarkable piece of automotive history. Driven by Cale Yarbrough and Bobby Allison to three consecutive Championship titles in 1978, it only competed once this year at Richmond finishing 14th overall.
This instrument features a Dobson tone ring with excellent string separation and clarity, an ebony fretboard designed to be fast yet comfortable to play, a compensated bridge providing extra warmth while eliminating tuning issues, elegant woods, simple design inlays, quality workmanship all combine to produce its stunning beauty.