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Two-time ARCA championship runner-up Bobby Watson passes away at 87

Bobby Watson, who twice was the ARCA Menards Series championship points runner-up in a driving career spanning from 1959 to 1979, died June 2, 2023 at the age of 87.

Racing out of his native Prestonburg, Kentucky, Watson drove to 20 career victories, 12th on the all-time ARCA Menards Series list, tied with his contemporary and fellow Kentuckian Andy Hampton. Watson, who drove for H.B. and Harry Ranier for much of his ARCA career, was championship runner-up to Benny Parsons in 1969 and to Ron Hutcherson in 1972, finishing in the top-10 in points six times. He also drove cars fielded by A. Arnold.

Watson’s victories included four at Louisville Fairgrounds Speedway in Kentucky, three at Queen City Speedway in Cincinnati Ohio, and two wins at Salem Indiana, Lorain County Ohio and Mt. Clemens Michigan. He won one race each at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee, the three-quarter-mile track at Pocono Raceway, Columbus Motor Speedway in Ohio, Salyersville, Kentucky, Flat Rock, Michigan, Toledo, Ohio and Winchester, Indiana.

His best ARCA season was ’69, when he won eight races and battled future NASCAR Cup Series champion and Daytona 500 winner Parsons for the ARCA championship. Watson also raced in the NASCAR Cup Series, USAC Stock Car Series, ASA and NASCAR Grand American and Grand National East.

Watson is survived by sons Joe (Janet) Watson and Robby Watson; daughters Sheryl (Bob) Shepherd and Jamie (David) Orrender; son-in-law John Laughead; eleven grandchildren; and twenty great-grandchildren. Services are Wednesday, June 7 at 4 p.m. at the Open Door Baptist Church, David Kentucky, with Bob Shepherd officiating. Visitation will be from 10 a.m. until time of service.