Zac McDorrRicky Craven, our Hometown Hero of NASCAR, was born in 1966 in Newburgh, Maine. His father raced cars in Bangor, and Ricky had his first project stock car by age 13. Two years later he had it running enough to race, and took it to Unity Raceway. He won his second start in front of racing legend Bobby Allison, who gave Ricky his hat and said, “You never forget your first win.”

Soon Craven moved on to the Wiscasset Raceway, where he won the track championship and Rookie of the Year award. His first NASCAR race was at Oxford Plains Speedway in 1986. Unfortunately, he suffered engine failure and finished low in the pack. In 1990, he joined the Busch North Series and won Rookie of the Year in that division.

1991 would be Craven’s standout year. He won 10 races against some of NASCAR’s best drivers, and was named champion.

“We had an unbelievable year in 1991, winning 10 races and the championship and that was a great feeling,” Craven told Motorsport. “All wins are special, but winning the Chevy Dealers of New England 250 and beating drivers such as Harry Gant, Chuck Bown, Bobby Labonte, Jeff Burton and Robert Pressley really got me noticed.”

Success continued for Craven in the early ‘90s. He entered the Busch series and again won Rookie of the Year in 1992. He finished second in points that year, and in 1993, as well.

Craven moved up to the Winston Cup in 1995, had four Top 10 finishes, and again won Rookie of the Year. In 1997, he finished third in the Indianapolis 500. In 2003, he won the closest NASCAR race ever at the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400, beating Kurt Bush by .002 seconds.

Success for Craven became more elusive after that. Today he is a respected NASCAR analyst for ESPN.