13 Is Not Good For Racing

Friday the 13th is coming up.  It’s a day that may be a bit unlucky.  As ‘luck’ would have it for this story, auto racing is full of history tied to the number 13…and it’s not a winner’s tale.

Casey Mears is the current #13 in NASCAR.  Over 463 races, he has won one.  The win came at the ’07 Coca Cola 600 at what is now known as the Charlotte Motor Speedway…but he was driving the #25 Chevrolet.  No luck for the #13.

If you know the name Johnny Rutherford, it’s most likely due to his success at the Indy 500 as a 3-time winner.  Well, Johnny dabbled in NASCAR and in his first race in 1963, he was behind the wheel of the #13 Smokey Yunick Chevrolet. He won the second 100-Mile Qualifying Race at Daytona and made history as the only #13 to ever win a race in NASCAR. 

Since 1950 - Formula 1’s first year - the number 13 car has never won a race.  In fact, starting a race with number is a rarity.  The first time was at the 1963 Mexican Grand Prix.  Moisés Solana qualified 11th and finished 11th after engine failure caused him to exit the race 8 laps short of the finish.  Not lucky. 

51 years after Solana, #13 was given a go.  From 1996 to 2013 in Formula 1, #1 was given to the past year’s champion, #2 was given to his current year’s teammate and the remaining numbers were allocated by overall placing in the past year – but #13 was skipped!  In 2014, Formula 1 set a rule in place where a driver would select a number and it would be tied to him for his career.  

Formula 1 driver Pastor Maldonado started his career in 2011 with the Williams team, winning in his 2nd year at the Spanish GP (in the #18 car).  In 2014, he moved to Lotus-Mercedes and with the new number rule in place, he bravely decided to choose #13.  Over the 2 years in the #13, Maldonado had a best race finish of 7th.  He didn’t finish 9 of 19 races in 2015.  That year’s performance ended his career.  The use of #13 in Formula 1 may have ended with Pastor’s final 2 unlucky verses.   

Monday, May 9 was the 13th consecutive day where at least a trace of rain fell at BWI Airport.  The 14th was today.  Based on the forecast, today should be the end of the run but yes, it’s expected to rain on Friday the 13th.  May Saturday the 14th bring the luck!  Let’s have some faith in the mostly cloudy forecast.  See you down the road.