Harley Leland Race (born April 11, 1943) is an American former professional wrestler, and current promoter and trainer.
During his career as a wrestler, Race worked for all of the major wrestling promotions, including the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), the American Wrestling Association (AWA), the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE), and World Championship Wrestling (WCW). He held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship seven times, and was the first NWA United States Heavyweight Champion, which is now known as the WWE's United States Championship. Race is one of six men inducted into each of the WWE Hall of Fame, the NWA Hall of Fame, the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame, and is considered by many past and present fans/wrestlers and promoters as one of the best professional wrestlers of all time. He is highly respected for his toughness and lifelong dedication to the business.
Race was an early fan of professional wrestling, watching programming from the nearby Chicago territory on the DuMont Network. After overcoming polio as a child, he began training as a professional wrestler as a teen under former world champions Stanislaus and Wladek Zbyszko, who operated a farm in his native Missouri. While in high school, an altercation with another classmate led to the principal kneeing Race in the back of the head as he tried to break up the fight. Enraged, Race attacked him, resulting in his expulsion. Already 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) and 225 lb (102 kg), Race decided to get his start in professional wrestling. Race then became the driver of Happy Humphrey, as he was too large to drive at the time.
Professional wrestling career
Race was recruited by St. Joseph wrestling promoter Gust Karras, who hired Race to do odd jobs for his promotion, including chauffeuring the 800 lb (360 kg) wrestler Happy Humphrey. Eventually, Race started wrestling on some of his shows, and some of Karras' veteran wrestlers helped further Race's training. At the age of 18, he moved to Nashville and began wrestling under the ring name of Jack Long, forming a tag team with storyline brother John Long. The duo quickly captured the Southern Tag Team Championship. Race was seen as a rising star in the business with a bright future, until a car accident put him out of action, with his leg coming close to being amputated. His pregnant first wife, Vivian Louise Jones, died instantly; they had been married for little over a month. Karras heard about his employee's condition, went rushing into the hospital, and blocked the planned amputation, declaring it "over my dead body". In doing so, he saved Race's leg. Although he recovered, doctors told Race that he might never walk again, and his wrestling career was over. Undaunted, Race endured grueling physical therapy for several months and made a full recovery. Race fought in the Jack Pfefer and Tony Santos in the Boston territory as the Great Mortimer in 1963.
He returned to the ring in 1964, wrestling for the Funks' Amarillo, Texas, territory. This time, he wrestled under his own name, after his father told him that he should not work to make anyone else's name famous. Race never again used a different ring name. In Amarillo, Race met fellow up-and-coming wrestler Larry Hennig (later Larry "The Axe" Hennig and father of "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig). The two formed a tag team and moved to the American Wrestling Association (AWA).
American Wrestling Association (1965–1990)
In the AWA, Race and Hennig branded themselves as "Handsome" Harley Race (which was actually a moniker given to him by fans in Japan) and "Pretty Boy" Larry Hennig, a cocky heel (villain) tag team with a penchant for breaking the rules to win matches. They quickly became top contenders, and in January 1965, they defeated Dick the Bruiser and The Crusher to capture the AWA World Tag Team Championship. Race and Hennig continued to feud with the Bruiser and Crusher and other top teams for the next several years, amassing three title reigns. Verne Gagne, in particular, was a hated rival of the team, and recruited many different partners to try to defeat Race and Hennig during their AWA run. In October 1967, Gagne was credited with "breaking" one of Hennig's legs, thus giving him some much needed time off from the ring. Race (as the storyline went), was allowed to choose a new partner and retain the AWA World Tag Team Championship. Harley's choice was Chris Markoff, but the duo lost the championship at their first title defense to the team of Pat O'Connor and Wilbur Snyder in November 1967. For the next several months, Race teamed with Hard Boiled Haggerty (Don Stansauk) who over the years presented Verne Gagne with some of his greatest matches. Together, Race and Haggerty often battled Gagne and "Cowboy" Bill Watts. In March 1968, after Hennig's return to the ring, he and Harley were back together, though the two never recaptured the AWA World Tag Team Championship. Despite his tag team success, Race left the AWA after several years at the top of the division to pursue a singles career in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA).
Race returned to the AWA in 1984 to wrestle Curt Hennig. The confrontation was fueled by Larry Hennig confronting his former tag team partner at the end of the match. Race would also wrestle former AWA World Heavyweight Champion Rick Martel as part of WrestleRock in April 1986. Toward the end of his in-ring career, he would challenge Larry Zbyszko for the AWA World Heavyweight Championship in October 1990, in the main event of an AWA broadcast on ESPN. However, all of these matches were basically just special appearances.
National Wrestling Alliance (1970–1984)
Race jumped from territory to territory in the early 1970s, renewing his rivalry with Terry Funk in Amarillo and winning a regional title. He was seen as a gifted territorial wrestler, not quite ready for the worldwide spotlight, until 1973. In Kansas City, he did very well teaming with Roger Kirby. As a singles wrestler, he held the NWA Missouri Heavyweight Championship as well as the Mid-Atlantic version of the NWA United States Heavyweight Championship. He also started what would be many tours to Japan where he faced Giant Baba.
In 1973, Race faced NWA World Heavyweight Champion Dory Funk, Jr. in Kansas City. Race emerged from the battle as the new world champion in what was perceived by fans as a stunning upset. Behind the scenes, Funk had pulled out of losing the title to Jack Brisco, citing injuries in a truck accident; in truth, Amarillo promoter Dory Funk Sr. did not want his son losing the title to a fellow babyface (a fan favorite). Race, a known tough street fighter, was under orders from the NWA not to let Funk leave the ring as champion that night. The ending was a "work" with Funk dropping the title as planned.
A televised title defense from this first reign, held in Calgary against Klondike Bill and aired as the main event on an episode of the promotion's eponymous Stampede Wrestling program (where Race successfully defended his title), resurfaced during the 21st century as part of the WWE Video Library. Most of his televised matches of this era were squash matches held in television studios. Though Race held the title for only a few months, losing it to Brisco in Houston, Texas in July, he became a worldwide superstar and perennial championship contender.
Race was determined to eventually regain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, often moving between territories and collecting several regional titles, including eight Central States Heavyweight Championship, seven Missouri Heavyweight Championship, the Georgia Heavyweight Championship, the Stampede North American Heavyweight Championship in Canada, the Japan-based NWA United National Heavyweight and PWF World Heavyweight Championships, and becoming the first-ever holder of the Mid-Atlantic United States Heavyweight Championship, still defended today as the WWE United States Championship. This kept Race in contention for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, and Race vowed that he would only need one chance against the champion to regain it.
Race finally got his wish in 1977, facing familiar rival Terry Funk, who had become the champion since their previous encounters, in Toronto. Race won the title by submission with the Indian Death Lock, a rarely used submission move but one that put great pressure on Funk's injured leg. The NWA World Heavyweight Champion once again, Race this time established his dominance, defending the title up to six times a week and holding it for almost five years (excluding extremely short reigns by Tommy Rich, Dusty Rhodes, and Giant Baba). Race feuded with many of the legends of the NWA including Dory Funk, Dusty Rhodes, Dick the Bruiser, Pat Patterson and Angelo Poffo. In 1978, he had a series of violent matches throughout the Midwest with the Sheik, culminating in a bloody "2x4 with a nail in it" match in front of 12,313 at Cobo Hall. The NWA, AWA and WWF were on good terms, and Race engaged in title versus title matches with WWF Heavyweight Champions Superstar Billy Graham and Bob Backlund, as well as AWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Bockwinkel. Race toured extensively all over the country and the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and many stints in Japan, where he was already well-known from his visits with Larry Hennig. On October 13, 1978, Harley Race body slammed André the Giant
Race, after countless victories over many years over Rhodes and other great wrestlers, lost the title to Dusty Rhodes in 1981. Rhodes lost the title to up-and-coming star Ric Flair, though Race was able to defeat Flair in St. Louis in 1983 for his seventh reign as champion, breaking the record previously held by Lou Thesz. What followed was one of the classic angles of the 1980s, which led to the first-ever NWA's Starrcade event. Determined not to lose the title again, Race offered a $25,000 bounty to anyone who could eliminate Flair from the NWA. Bob Orton, Jr. and Dick Slater attacked Flair, inflicting what appeared to be a career-ending neck injury, and collecting the bounty from Race after Flair announced his retirement. Flair's retirement was a ruse, however, and he eventually returned to action, much to Race's surprise. NWA officials set up a championship rematch, to be titled "Starrcade: A Flare for the Gold". The match was to be held in Flair's backyard, Greensboro, North Carolina, which enraged Race. Race lost the title to Flair in the bloody and memorable Starcade steel cage match (with Gene Kiniski as the special referee. Flair jumped on top of Race from top rope and pinned him to become champion.
He would regain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship for a short two-day reign in New Zealand in 1984 (this title change was briefly recognized by World Championship Wrestling (WCW), but it is currently not recognized by NWA nor WWE), but his loss to Flair at Starrcade was largely seen as the torch-passing from Race to Flair. Flair would go on and he credits Race for igniting his career. Later, Race left NWA because NWA President Sam Mushnick was "losing his capabilities".
Promoter career (1984–1986)
Earlier in his career, Race became involved in the ownership side of wrestling, buying a portion of the Kansas City and later St. Louis territories known as Heart of America. St. Louis was a stronghold of the NWA, and around this time in 1984, WWF owner Vincent K. McMahon began his invasion of NWA territories, including St. Louis, in his ambition to build a truly national wrestling promotion. Race was enraged, famously confronting Hulk Hogan and the Funk brothers at a WWF event in Kansas City. Race lost over $500,000 as an owner of the Kansas City territory, and despite his championship years being at an end and wishing to retire from active competition, was forced to rely on continuing to wrestle to make a living. He continued to travel in the United States and abroad, and signed with McMahon's WWF in 1986.
World Wrestling Federation (1986–1989)
In May 1986, Race entered the WWF managed by longtime friend Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, bleaching his hair blond and billing himself again as "Handsome" Harley Race. During a time when the WWF did not recognize the existence of other promotions and the accomplishments a wrestler made there, WWF officials came up with a solution to recognize his wrestling pedigree by having him win the King of the Ring tournament. After this, he referred to himself as "King" Harley Race, coming to the ring in a royal crown and cape, to the ceremonial accompaniment of the tenth movement (known as "The Great Gates of Kiev") of Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky. After winning a match, Harley would make his defeated opponent "bow and kneel" before him. Usually Bobby Heenan would assist the defeated opponent to "bow and kneel" by grabbing their hair and forcing them to bow before King Harley Race.
He participated in a notable feud with the Junkyard Dog, culminating in a match at WrestleMania III at the Pontiac Silverdome, in which Race cleanly pinned The Junkyard Dog after a textbook Belly-to-belly suplex. As per the stipulations of the match, the JYD was required to bow to Race as the winner, but after he bowed and Race got up, JYD grabbed the chair he was sitting on and attacked Race before leaving with The King's cape to a standing ovation. Race would spend 1987 feuding with Hulk Hogan and Jim Duggan, the latter of which was highlighted by an extended brawl at the 1987 Slammy Awards. In early 1988, he suffered an abdominal injury in a match against Hogan in which he tried to hit Hogan, prone on a table at ringside, with a swandive headbutt. Hogan moved out of the way and Race impacted the table inwards (this was long before the ECW hardcore days, in which tables were "worked" for breaking effects). The metal edge forced its way up into Race's abdomen giving him a hernia. Following this incident and during his recovery, the WWF ran an angle where they acknowledged his injury, and his manager Bobby Heenan vowed to crown a new king. He left the WWF in early 1989, following a brief comeback from hernia surgery and a failed attempt to regain his crown from the new King, Haku, at the Royal Rumble). He had many backstage roles during the 1990s, including at Over the Edge in May 1999, the night of Owen Hart's death. This is stated in the documentary The Life and Death of Owen Hart in which Race states that he bumped into Owen, and that Owen told him he was uncomfortable with his new equipment for the stunt.
Post-WWF wrestling career
After leaving the WWF, Harley continued to wrestle until the spring of 1991, most notably with World Wrestling Council (WWC) in Puerto Rico, Stampede Wrestling, the NWA, and the AWA. Race then received one last shot at a recognized World Title when he faced Larry Zbyszko at the final AWA television taping in August 1990. The match ended in a double countout.
World Championship Wrestling
Race made his return to the promotion at The Great American Bash on July 7, 1990 when he defeated former NWA World Heavweight Champion Tommy Rich. He began making appearances on house shows and immediately would fill in for Ric Flair in several tag team matches, pairing up with Barry Windham against Lex Luger and Sting. Race would continue a program with Tommy Rich through the rest of the summer, as well as facing Brian Pillman and Wendell Cooley. In September, he received several United States Heavyweight Championship title shots against then champion Lex Luger. In October, Race renewed his rivalry with The Junkyard Dog in two matches on the WCW house show circuit and finished the year facing Michael Wallstreet. During a house show match in St. Joseph, Missouri on December 7, 1990, he sustained a shoulder injury and would ultimately retire from active competition.
Race made his first subsequent appearance six months later as a guest referee during a house show on June 14, 1991 in St. Louis, Missouri. One year after making his initial return on The Great American Bash in 1990, Race returned at the 1991 pay-per-view event to become the advisor/manager to Lex Luger. Excelling as a manager as he had as a wrestler, he immediately lead Luger to the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. He managed Luger throughout his title run, as well as acquiring the contract for Mr. Hughes from Alexandra York.
In 1992, Race began to add other wrestlers to a stable that would include Big Van Vader, Super Invader and Vinnie Vegas (Kevin Nash). The stable was short-lived, and after Vader defeated Sting for the world championship on July 12, 1992 he became Race's primary charge. During his management of Vader, Race met with racial controversy when Vader was feuding with WCW wrestler Ron Simmons when saying during a promo, "When I was world champion, I had a boy like you to carry my bags!". This was actually part of the booking strategy of then-WCW head Bill Watts to build support for Simmons, whom he would eventually make champion. The wily veteran was popular among the young WCW talent, and developed close friendships with Mick Foley and Steve Austin, among others. On June 9, 1993 at a TV taping in Lake Charles, Louisiana, he began managing The Collosal Kongs, and on July 7 at WorldWide tapings in Orlando, Florida, Yoshi Kwan joined his stable.
After losing the title at Starrcade in December 1993, Big Van Vader quickly became Race's sole stable member again. Race continued to manage Vader in the following months in rematches against Flair, and on May 22, 1994 he was inducted into the WCW Hall of Fame during the Slamboree 94 PPV. He continued to appear at Vader's side through the rest of the year.
As his early wrestling career had been nearly derailed due to a car accident, another car accident in January 1995 forced Race out of the wrestling business altogether. Race required hip replacement surgery, which, along with injuries accumulated after years in the ring, prevented him from even being a manager. He would make a few independent appearances against another Nature Boy, Rik Ratchet but his inability to work was just too great. He would make one last return to WCW television in October 1999 as the ring announcer for the Bret Hart vs. Chris Benoit tribute to Owen Hart match in his hometown of Kansas City.
World League Wrestling
Race spent several years away from the business, working briefly as a process server before retiring with his wife in small-town Missouri. In 1999, he started World League Wrestling (originally called World Legion Wrestling, but the name was changed a year later), an independent promotion which runs shows near Race's hometown of Eldon, Missouri and other cities in Missouri including Kansas City. A year later, he started Harley Race's Wrestling Academy, which seeks to train up-and-coming wrestlers who could benefit from Race's unique experience and perspective on the wrestling business. Race's events are family-oriented, and usually raise funds for local charities. As well as featuring his students, legends like Mick Foley, Terry Funk, Bret Hart, and even Mitsuharu Misawa make guest appearances. WLW has a working agreement with Misawa's Japanese promotion, Pro Wrestling Noah and have Noah star Takeshi Morishima as a former heavyweight champion. He is credited with training Trevor Murdoch who was then known as Trevor Rhodes and Pro-Wrestling Noah veterans Superstar Steve, Wild Wade Chism, Matt Murphy and Daniel Cross.
In 2014, Race and World League Wrestling relocated to Troy, MO. Along with relocating his wrestling academy and promotion, Race also built the Race Wrestling Arena - where events are put on once a month.
In August 2015, WLW put on a local event with special guest Ric Flair.
Race was born to sharecroppers George and Mary Race in 1943. He married three times. Race married his first wife, Vivian Jones, in 1960. Jones died five weeks after their wedding in the same car crash in which Harley nearly lost a leg. His second wife who Race refused to mention by name in his 2004 book King of the Ring, divorced him after a few years of marriage in 1990. Together they have a son Justin Race. who was an amateur wrestler but never a professional. His third wife Beverley, also known as B.J. was vice president of the Commerce Bank of Kansas City when they married in late 1995 after Harley's career-ending car crash earlier that year. She often traveled with Harley until she died of pneumonia. Race has five grandchildren. Harley continued running World League Wrestling (WLW) and his wrestling camp in Eldon, Missouri. He later moved the businesses to nearby Troy. Many of his trainees were sent to the NOAH promotion in Japan for extra seasoning. Over the years he would need surgery to his neck, hip replacements, knee replacements and had five vertebrae in his back fused together due to the years of taking hard bumps.
Race returned to WWE television in 2004 shortly after being inducted into their Hall of Fame. On an episode of Raw, Randy Orton confronted Race and spat in his face, to go with Orton's "Legend Killer" persona. Race returned again for Raw's WWE Homecoming episode in October 2005, marking the show's return to the USA Network. Race, along with the other legends who were in the ring, gave Rob Conway a lesson in respect.
In 2004, Harley Race was recruited to be a part of Total Nonstop Action Wrestling as a member of their NWA Championship Committee. Despite reportedly being an authority figure as a member of the committee, he never made any official decisions and only made the occasional on-screen appearance for the company. In 2006 he appeared at a Scott D`Amore card in Hamilton, Ontario.
At the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony on March 31, 2007, Race and Dusty Rhodes were "inducted" into the Four Horsemen by Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. On the August 8, 2008 episode of Monday Night Raw, Race sat in the front row and was acknowledged by commentators Michael Cole and Jerry "The King" Lawler. Before the show, Race accompanied then GHC Heavyweight Champion Takeshi Morishima to the ring for a dark match against Charlie Haas.
Race also made an appearance at Total Nonstop Action Wrestling's Lockdown pay-per-view in 2007 as the special guest gatekeeper for the main event. Race made a special guest appearance at the second night of Ring of Honor's Glory by Honor VI: Night Two at the Manhattan Center on November 3, 2007 in New York City.
Race made a special appearance on the March 31, 2008 episode of Raw as part of Ric Flair's retirement ceremony. He was the fourth person introduced to congratulate Flair after the Four Horsemen (Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Barry Windham and James J. Dillon), Batista and Ricky Steamboat.
On January 4, 2014, Race took part in New Japan Pro Wrestling's Wrestle Kingdom 8 in Tokyo Dome event, taking part in the title presentation before a match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and punching out defending champion Rob Conway's manager Bruce Tharpe.
Harley participated in the 1999 NBC special, Exposed! Pro Wrestling's Greatest Secrets. His face was covered to conceal his identity as he broke kayfabe and discussed the inner workings of the business. Harley's autobiography, King of the Ring: the Harley Race Story (ISBN 1-58261-818-6), became available in 2004. Along with Ricky Steamboat and Les Thatcher, Race is author of The Professional Wrestler's Workout and Instructional Guide.
During his time in the WWF, Race underwent surgery that required the removal of a portion of his small intestine. It was said that Honky Tonk Man (though HTM says that it was Bobby Heenan) later joked that Race, who is revered as one of the toughest men in professional wrestling history, "had no guts", a remark that most of the other wrestlers did not find humorous. This led to Dynamite Kid Tom Billington, one half of the popular tag team the British Bulldogs and who held great respect for Harley Race, to confront and threaten Honky Tonk Man with violence if he ever disrespected Race like that again. Billington was well known for his toughness and being extremely stiff in the ring; other wrestlers present mentioned they witnessed Honky Tonk Man visibly nervous after the incident though Honky Tonk Man also denied this.
Harley Race played himself as the distinguished ring announcer for a tag team match involving Mil Mascaras and El Hijo del Santo in the 2007 film Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy.
- Finishing moves
- Bridging fisherman suplex
- Diving headbutt – innovated
- Diving knee drop
- Signature moves
- Headbutt drop
- High knee
- Indian deathlock
- Knee drop
- Multiple suplex variations
- Vertical, sometimes while delaying
- Pendulum backbreaker
- Scoop slam
- Swinging neckbreaker
- Bobby Heenan
- Wrestlers managed
- Big Van Vader
- Lex Luger
- Tyler Mane
- Yoshi Kwan
- "The King of Wrestling"
- "Mad Dog"
- Entrance themes
- "The Great Gates of Kiev (WWF)
- "Galaxy Express" by Ryoichi Kuniyoshi (AJPW)
- ^ "Finishing Moves List". Other Arena. Retrieved 2009-11-03.
- ^ Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Stone Cold Truth (p. 102).
Championships and accomplishments
- All Japan Pro Wrestling
- NWA United National Championship (1 time)
- NWA World Heavyweight Championship (7 times)
- PWF World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- All Star Pro-Wrestling (New Zealand)
- NWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- American Wrestling Association
- AWA World Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Larry Hennig (replaced by Chris Markoff in their final reign)
- Cauliflower Alley Club
- Iron Mike Mazurki Award (2006)
- Central States Wrestling
- NWA Central States Heavyweight Championship (9 times)
- NWA North American Tag Team Championship (Central States version) (2 times) – with Baron von Raschke (1), Roger Kirby (1)
- NWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Championship Wrestling from Florida
- NWA Florida Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Roger Kirby (2), Bob Roop (1)
- NWA Southern Heavyweight Championship (Florida version) (1 time)
- NWA United States Heavyweight Championship (Mid-Atlantic version) (1 time)1
- NWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- NWA Mid-America
- NWA Mid-America Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
- Eastern Sports Association
- IW North American Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Georgia Championship Wrestling
- NWA Georgia Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- NWA Macon Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Buddy Colt
- NWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Maple Leaf Wrestling
- NWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Missouri Sports Hall of Fame
- Class of 2013
- National Wrestling Alliance
- NWA Hall of Fame (Class of 2005)
- NWA Hollywood
- Los Angeles Battle Royal (1969)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Match of the Year (1973) vs. Dory Funk, Jr. on May 24
- Match of the Year (1979) vs. Dusty Rhodes on August 21
- Match of the Year (1983) vs. Ric Flair on June 10
- Stanley Weston Award (2006)
- Wrestler of the Year (1979, 1983)
- Ranked No. 8 of the 500 best singles wrestlers during the PWI Years in 2003
- Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum
- Class of 2004
- Class of 2017 - Inducted as a part of a tag team with Larry "The Axe" Hennig
- St. Louis Wrestling Club
- NWA Missouri Heavyweight Championship (7 times)
- NWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Stampede Wrestling
- Stampede North American Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Stampede Wrestling Hall of Fame
- St. Louis Wrestling Hall of Fame
- Class of 2007
- Tokyo Sports
- Match of the Year (1978) vs. Jumbo Tsuruta on January 20
- World Championship Wrestling (Australia)
- IWA World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Larry Hennig
- World Championship Wrestling
- WCW Hall of Fame (Class of 1994)
- World Wrestling Association
- WWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- World Wrestling Council
- WWC Caribbean Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment
- King of the Ring (1986)
- Sam Muchnick Memorial Tournament (1986)
- WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2004)
- Slammy Awards (2 times)
- Best Ring Apparel (1987)
- Bobby "The Brain" Heenan Scholarship Award (1987) with Haku, Tama, André the Giant, Hercules, and King Kong Bundy
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- Match of the Year (1983) vs. Ric Flair at Starrcade
- Wrestler of the Year (1980, 1981)
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)
1 Though this championship was almost always used and defended in the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling promotion, there were times when it was won and defended through arrangements with other promotions. Race was awarded the title with the explanation that he defeated Johnny Weaver in a tournament final while wrestling on a card for Championship Wrestling from Florida.