NASCAR fan Joe Baumann, who attended more than 1,000 races, died Friday. He was 81.
Baumann, who was born and raised in Erie, Pennsylvania, was inducted into the Darlington Raceway Fan Hall of Fame in 2017.
He was honored that day for attending every Southern 500 since 1964. He called his experience that day “without a doubt the most awesome day of my life,” according to the Erie Times-News.
Baumann attended his 1,000th NASCAR race at Michigan in June 2018.
Baumann told NBC Sports in 2018 how he became such a NASCAR fan.
“I raced a couple of years in late models at our home track here in Erie,” said Baumann, who joined the Navy after high school and served four years. “Went into drag racing a couple years after that. Started having a big family and that was the end of everything. I become a spectator because I figured there’s no way I can afford a family and the cost to race race cars.”
He was there in 1969 at Talladega when the track held its first race. Baumann was at North Wilkesboro in 1996 for the track’s final Cup race. He attended every Cup race in 2004.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 53 years and two daughters. Survivors include six children, 14 grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.