Saturday, September 17, 2016

September 17, 1972 - Delaware 500

As NASCAR's Winston Cup series schedule hit mid-September, only six races remained between Richard Petty and his pursuit of an unprecedented fourth title. Petty and his fellow drivers arrived in Dover, Delaware for the annual Delaware 500.

Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers
Bobby Allison won the pole in his Junior Johnson-prepared Coca-Cola Chevy. David Pearson lined up alongside Allison. Former teammates Buddy Baker (who had moved to the #71 Harry Hyde-led team) and Petty made up the second row. Coo Coo Marlin qualified fifth, one of his best career starting positions.

After a slam-bang affair at Richmond 500 a week earlier (and a handful of other on-track encounters over the years, Petty and Allison were reported by the media to be feudin'. Officially, both competitive drivers declined to take the bait - even in the face of a tight battle for the 1972 Cup.

Baker led a couple of sizable segments of around 50 laps each. Petty and Allison also led a few laps here and there. The day belonged, however, to the #21 Wood Brothers Purolator Mercury team. Pearson led 350 laps - including 345 of the final 350.

When the checkers fell, Pearson won over second place Petty by three laps. Though separated by three laps, the finish was the 46th of 63 times Petty and Pearson claimed the top two spots.

Source: York Daily Record
The rest of the top 10 was filled by some near-career days by independent drivers including:
  • 3rd: Ramo Stott driving for the Virginia gentleman car owner, Junie Donlavey
  • 4th: James Hylton
  • 5th: future Richard Childress Racing mechanic Cecil Gordon
  • 7th: future Winston Cup pace car driver Elmo Langley
  • 8th: Walter Ballard (Ballard fielded the car for Dale Earnhardt's second career Cup start)
Source: The Hour via Google News Archive
Before the race, Petty may have told the press any feud that may have existed with Allison was over. Few believed it. Though the two didn't swap much paint at Dover, the hard racing between them continued down the stretch of 1972 including the two post-Dover battles in the Old Dominion 500 at Martinsville and the legendary Wilkes 400 at North Wilkesboro.

Petty won two of the final five races as did Allison. When the season concluded, however, Petty prevailed over Allison to capture his fourth title.


TMC

Friday, September 9, 2016

September 9, 1966 - Buddy Shuman Memorial

As the 1966 Grand National season began to wind down, a couple of story lines stayed in the news week-to-week.
  • David Pearson's incredible season - Through 42 races of the 49-race schedule, Pearson had tallied 13 wins. He was well on his way to winning the first of his three career GN titles.
  • Curtis Turner as a fans' favorite - In a limited schedule with multiple car owners, Turner continued to thrill fans on and off the track - and give his fellow competitors, owners, and NASCAR officials the same treatment. Fireball Roberts was gone, and Richard Petty's popularity continued to climb. Despite his career headed well on the downside, however, Pop Turner was still one of the biggest drawing cards for race promoters.
Hickory Speedway hosted the 43rd event of the season - the annual Buddy Shuman Memorial race. The 250-lap race on the 4/10-mile dirt track honored the memory of Buddy Shuman, a NASCAR pioneer who perished in a 1955 hotel fire.

Fans and likely the Hickory management were looking forward to round 3 of a feud between Turner and newcomer Bobby Allison. The two started on the front row five races earlier at Columbia and danced a couple of times during the event. Three races later, Pop and Bobby hammered the snot out of each other at Bowman Gray Stadium. Turner believed he deserved respect, and Allison was trying to bank some of his own.

Source: Statesville Record and Landmark
Turner was slated to make yet another start for owner Junior Johnson. After trashing Junior's car at Bowman Gray and wrecking again at Darlington, however, Turner didn't make it to Hickory. Johnson fired him and came out of retirement to drive his own car.

Source: Spartanburg Herald via Google News Archive
Petty, the defending winner of the race, won the pole. Pearson qualified for the front row alongside Petty's #42 Plymouth. For six consecutive short-track races late in 1966, Petty sported #42 on his Plymouth in place of his customary 43.

East Tennessee's Paul Lewis started an impressive third, and Elmo Langley started beside Lewis. Allison rounded out the top five starters.

Pearson put a whuppin' on the field. When the green flag fell, Pearson jumped Petty from the front row, seized the lead, and led the first 15 laps. Driving the car originally scheduled for Turner, Johnson then led for a stretch of 55 laps in his car before having to pit to pull a wrinkled fender off a tire.

More bad luck fell Johnson's way. When he pitted, a safety truck was still on pit road tending a pit fire. Junior's pit exit was blocked by the truck, and he lost two laps just trying to get back on the track. Thirty laps later, Johnson was gassed. He retired as a driver after the 1965 season, and Hickory was only his second start back. He turned his car over to relief driver Dick Hutcherson who then turned the car over ... on its roof! ... about 100 laps later after rallying Junior's Ford back to 4th place.

Once Johnson made his first stop to pull the fender, Pearson went back to the point and led the remaining 180 laps to claim his fourteenth trophy of the year. Petty hung around to finish second - albeit one lap down to the winner. The race was the 17th of 63 times Pearson and Petty finished in the top two spots.

Source: Spartanburg Herald via Google News Archive
TMC

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

September 6, 1976 - Southern 500

For the second year in a row, the 2016 Southern 500 was run at Darlington Raceway under the lights on a Sunday evening. For about 10 years before 2015, the race was a bit of a gypsy with it being run in November, Mother's Day weekend, and April.

Back the in day, however, the Southern 500 was run on Labor Day Monday.  The race was also held in the full sun of a late summer, scorching, Southern day. Many drivers were gassed from heat exhaustion and needed relief. Yet many returned to their seat after a few whiffs of oxygen and a cup of Pepsi Cola diluted by rapidly melting ice.

The 1976 Southern 500 - held during the Bicentennial year of the United States - was held on Monday, September 6th.

A few days before the race, South Carolina's governor released a proclamation declaring Saturday, September 5th as Richard Petty Day. He was also chosen by the track as the race's Grand Martial.

In addition to the nation's celebrating its Bicentennial, 1976 also represented an election year for the presidency of the United States. Both major parties used the Darlington weekend to stump for votes. Jimmy Carter - the Democratic nominee - already had a connection to NASCAR. He attended a handful of races at what is now Atlanta Motor Speedway as Georgia's governor in the early 1970s.

Source: The Index-Journal of Greenwood SC
Senator Bob Dole - the VP running mate for Republican nominee President Gerald Ford - also spent a bit of time pressing the flesh.

Source: The Index-Journal
When the dust settled in November, Carter was elected as the incumbent Ford was ousted. One of the campaign promises Carter made was to invited many from NASCAR to the White House. True to his word, President Carter invited several drivers, owners, and NASCAR brass to the White House in September 1978. First Lady Rosalynn Carter hosted the event as the POTUS remained at Camp David trying to get the leaders of Israel and Egypt to hammer out a binding peace agreement.

David Pearson won the pole - his fourth in a row at Darlington - in the #21 Wood Brothers Mercury. Pearson would extend his pole-winning streak to five in the 1977 Rebel 500. In the fifteen Darlington races Pearson raced for the the Woods, he won the pole nine times. Nine times? Nine Times.

Pearson's pole win for the '76 Southern 500 was bit unique because he was wearing another driver's uniform! Mike Hembree (now a writer for USA Today) wrote about the conundrum for the Spartanburg Herald.
As Pearson was preparing to get in his car to drive from his motel to the track Thursday morning, Grand National car builder Banjo Matthews happened along and talked Pearson into riding with him to the speedway. Therein lies the first plot twist. Pearson left his driver uniform in his car.

Pearson discovered his mistake at the track and being no Lady Godiva, borrowed one of Allison's bright red uniforms.

As soon as qualifying ended with Pearson knocking Allison out of the pole spot, the Spartanburg veteran dashed to a nearby truck (which happened to belong to Darrell Waltrip's team) and rapidly changed into his civilian clothes.

Someone wanted to know if Pearson planned to wear the Allison suit in Monday's race. "Naw, I've got one faster than this back at the motel." he said. 
Source: Spartanburg Herald
At the drop of the green, Allison powered off into turn 1 from his second starting position. About halfway down the backstretch, however, Pearson slithered under Allison, took the lead, and stayed there for the first eleven laps. Allison then passed Pearson as the fans were about to be entertained by 30 lead changes throughout the day.

A couple of laps after Allison took the lead, the caution waved for Nashville's David Sisco who crashed on lap 14. The year was a tough one at Darlington for the Sisco family. David's brother Jerry crashed in the spring Rebel 500, caught fire, and was pulled from his burning car by Petty crewmen Dale Inman and Barry Dodson.

Two other key characters from the 1979 Daytona 500 finish - Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison - were also stout in the first half of the 76 Southern 500. Donnie found his way to the front in Hoss Ellington's souped-up, Army-sponsored Chevrolet. But once there, something broke in the engine dumping fluid all over the track. Donnie angrily stormed away knowing he'd lost a solid shot at a win.

The cars hit pit road for Donnie's caution. In an era of no pit road speeds, Bobby Allison hastily pulled out of his stall to clear a car in front of him. Yarborough, however, had already committed to the outer lane. Cale bounced the right side of his #11 Holly Farms Chevy off the pit wall after being pinched by Bobby. In a quick turn of events, both Cale and Donnie were done.


About 15 laps after the race went back green, Buddy Baker and Dave Marcis got in a skirmish to bring out another yellow. A bad wreck involving rookie Skip Manning and Joe Frasson happened behind Baker's and Marcis' incident. When the caution flag flew, Manning accelerated a bit to catch up to the field for pit stops. His brakes apparently locked, and he spun. Frasson was trying to close on the field as well, couldn't avoid Manning's spinning #92, and t-boned him.

Frasson suffered bruising and a few cuts but was generally OK healthwise. His injuries, however, could have been far worse. The hit jarred his helmet off his head, tore his shoulder harness loose, and gashed his abdomen with his seat belt. Injured more than Frasson himself was his bank account. A true independent, Frasson's accident ended his season. He competed in only one Cup race in 1977 plus a handful of sportsman and ARCA race, and raced in only five Cup races in 1978 before moving on to other, more affordable series.

Manning had to be carefully extricated from the car with a broken leg. He missed the next race at Richmond. However, he managed to get in the car two races later at Dover. He started the race to earn driver points and then turned the car over to a relief driver. He soldiered on the rest of the season without technically missing a start. His tenacity - while perhaps viewed as risky and foolish through today's lens - was a necessity in that era to keep one's ride. It also helped him earn the Rookie of the Year award over drivers such as Neil Bonnett and Jimmy Means.

After surrendering the lead on lap 12, Pearson thought he'd check back in as the leader. After nearly being lapped by Donnie Allison before his problems, Pearson coolly continued. With 100 laps to go, Pearson went back to the point and led for another 30+ lap stretch.

Marcis (recovering from his encounter with Baker) and Darrell Waltrip then traded the lead with another for the next 25 or so laps. Marcis was in his final season with the famed #71 K&K Insurance Dodge prepared by Harry Hyde. Waltrip was in his first full season with DiGard and the #88 Gatorade team. DiGard had just recently hired Robert Yates as its engine builder, and the new guy's efforts were on display with plenty of speed.

With 45 laps to go, Pearson navigated past Marcis - then Bobby Allison - and then Waltrip to take the lead. Waltrip found another gear and dogged Pearson with his Robert Yates power.

Source: Stock Car Racing magazine
The King earned more than his Darlington stripe that particular day. He smacked the wall on three different occasions - yet continued with his boot on the gas.

Source: Stock Car Racing magazine
Petty poured on the steam late in an effort to chase down Pearson. The 21 was g-o-n-e GONE. But Petty still pursued Waltrip's 88 for second. After two or three laps of sizing him up, Petty finally completed the pass for second coming through turn four of the last lap. Waltrip likely filed away that move and recalled it when the two raced again for the win at Darlington's 1979 CRC Chemicals Rebel 500.

Source: Lakeland Ledger
Despite 16 years of racing at Darlington, the poles and six victories, Pearson's win in the Southern 500 was his first in that race. He also became the second driver to win three of Cup's biggest races in the same year. He also bagged the Daytona 500 in February and the World 600 in May. Beginning in 1985, the three races plus the Winston 500 would be featured in R.J. Reynold's Winston Million program.


Petty had a tremendous 1976 in the three big races as well with P2s at Daytona, Charlotte, and Darlington. His major hurdle, however, was that Pearson nabbed the win in all three. The race was also the 63rd and final time Petty and Pearson finished in the top two spots. Of the 63 times, Pearson won 33 of them with Petty capturing 30.

The second finish to Pearson ... again ... was perhaps softened a bit by the announcement STP would return as sponsor of the 43 again in 1977. With multi-year sponsorship deals and driver contracts today, it seems a bit unthinkable that back in the day even the big teams lived on year-to-year deals.

Source: Spartanburg Herald
Though a day of honor was declared for Petty before the race, the governor recognized Pearson with a full week following the Silver Fox's victory.

Source: Sumter Daily Item

TMC

Saturday, August 27, 2016

August 27, 1966 - Myers Brothers Memorial

On August 7, 1966, Richard Petty won the Dixie 400 at Atlanta International Raceway. The primary storyline from the race involved Junior Johnson's infamous Yellow Banana Ford driven by Fred Lorenzen and Smokey Yunick's black-and-gold Chevrolet driven by Curtis Turner. Both cars had all sorts of questionable parts and body shaping, yet both were allowed to race. Many were upset at the spectacle though the fact neither car won helped settle folks down a bit.

Following Atlanta, Turner agreed to what was expected to be a one-race deal in Junior's Ford at the next race in Winston-Salem, NC. Though his career had started to wind down, he wanted to give the fans and fellow competitors a fair night of racing if they felt they didn't get that at Atlanta.

The Myers Brothers Memorial 250 at Bowman Gray Stadium was scheduled for Saturday, August 13th - the weekend following Atlanta.

Persistent rain scuttled everyone's plans, and the race was postponed until Saturday, August 27th. So instead of the Turner-Johnson venture starting at Bowman Gray, fans got to see Pop finish third at Columbia Speedway.

When the teams returned to Bowman Gray for the rescheduled race, two drivers who eventually claimed the greatest number of wins in GN/Cup racing - Richard Petty and David Pearson - claimed the front row. Petty won the pole in his '66 Plymouth with Pearson qualifying second.

Everyone, however, had their eyes on the second row starters. GN noob Bobby Allison plunked his trusty red and white #2 Chevelle in third spot, and Turner lined up fourth in Junior Johnson's Ford. Apparently, the two of them decided to join forces again for a second race following Columbia.

Turner was the good-time-having, natural-talent, racing veteran. Allison was a relative upstart. Though he'd had success with racing throughout the southeast, Allison started only a handful of GN races prior to the 1966 season. Though he lacked experience racing against the Big Dawgs, the one thing he did not lack was confidence.

Source: Kannapolis NC The Daily Independent
Kim Chapin included a recap of some fan-stirring action during the Myers Brothers Memorial in his November 28, 1966, Sports Illustrated article about Bobby Allison's arrival in Grand National racing.
Winston-Salem is not an important race on the NASCAR Grand National calendar. The purse is not large, the points toward the driving championship are not many, but everybody shows up, as they had nine days before that at Columbia, SC, for a bit of fun at 100 miles around a half-mile dirt track. At that one, Allison, racing in his own red-and-white 1964 Chevelle, sat on the pole, and Turner, in a yellow 1966 Galaxie owned by Junior Johnson, started beside him. Just before the starter's green flag dropped, a strange announcement came over the track loudspeaker. An unidentified person had just offered Turner $500 if he could lead the first lap. Turner went over to Allison and said, in effect, that if Bobby would let him by, $250 of that was for Bobby.

"I didn't think the first lap would mean too much," Allison said, "and so I agreed." But almost immediately the race turned into a seven-car scramble with a whole lot of fender-slapping going on, heavily involving Allison, Turner and David Pearson. "A lot of people thought the Turner thing started right there," Allison said, "but that wasn't so." (The $500 wasn't so, either. Turner did lead the first lap, but later discovered the offer had been a prank.)

At Winston-Salem, Turner got on Allison's tail and started shoving him all around the track. Allison did the only thing he could. He let Turner's Galaxie get past his Chevelle and began bumping Turner, a natural action but a violent breach of etiquette, which states quite clearly, although as informally as the English constitution, that rookies shall not tangle with their elders, especially if that elder happens to be Curtis Turner. It was now Turner's move, and when he got the opportunity he moved in under Allison and hooked him - spun him out. Again Allison retaliated in the only way he could. He spun Turner out. That ended the preliminaries.
Source: Southern MotoRacing
By now Turner was a bit more than unhappy with the way the evening was going. He waited on Allison and, when he got the chance, clobbered the little Chevelle broadside. Allison limped to the infield with a dead engine. Dead engine? Not on your life. Turner came around again, this time following slowly behind the safety car, which was leading the pack, yellow caution flags fluttering, while the track maintenance crews cleaned up the debris. By now it was difficult to find an unmarked piece of metal on either car. Allison's "dead" engine suddenly roared to life and - bop-po - he returned Turner's compliment by slamming him broadside. Both drivers got out of their wrecked cars and without a word returned to the pits.
Source: Southern MotoRacing
"I didn't want to do what I did," Allison said, "but I felt I had to. I wasn't happy about it. In fact, I was nervous all the time I was doing it. We really did a job on each other."

That race started and ended the Allison-Turner trouble, apparently with no hard feelings. But NASCAR was not convinced. On the Saturday before Darlington's Labor Day Southern 500, Allison and Turner were paged over the track loudspeaker for an audience with Lin Kuchler, NASCAR executive manager, and Johnny Bruner Sr., a tough old-timer who is the field manager for NASCAR. Kuchler, young and sincere, made a couple of bad jokes and said something like I'm sure there aren't any hard feelings left but if there are let's not tell anybody about them. We love a good image. Now let's shake hands and that will be $100 each, please, for your trouble. Bruner added, "Yeah, I don't imagine there are any hard feelings left, either, but just in case there are, the next time one of you guys tries something like that you both get suspended for the year." 
While all had their eyes on Turner and Allison, Pearson and Petty kept their focus on the race. When the green flap fell, Pearson got the jump on Petty's 43 to take the lead. He stayed there for almost the first 100 laps.

With Pearson hitting the pits for service, Turner took over the lead for a few laps before the fireworks intensified between him and Allison. After the two hot heads found themselves on the sidelines, Petty found his groove. Ol' Blue grabbed the lead when the race went green again, and the King towed the field around Bowman Gray's quarter-mile track for 113 laps.

Pearson followed Petty's tire tracks the entire time. Then with about 30 laps to go, Pearson passed Petty and led the rest of the way to sweep the Bowman Gray's two 1966 GN races. (Pearson also won the track's 200-lap Easter Monday race over Tiger Tom Pistone and Petty in April 1966.) The race was the 16th of 63 times the two drivers finished in the top two spots.

Turner raced yet again for Junior the following week in the Southern 500 at Darlington. After a sponsor-mocking performance at Columbia, the run-in and wreck with Allison at Bowman Gray, and another wreck at Darlington, Junior had seen enough. He fired Pop, pulled himself out of retirement, and drove his own car the rest of the season.

TMC

Thursday, August 25, 2016

August 25, 1974 - Michigan's Yankee 400

Michigan International Speedway joined NASCAR's Grand National schedule with two races in 1969. The second one, the Yankee 600, was scheduled for mid-August. From then until now, Michigan's second race has always been slotted for the back half of the month.

The 1974 Yankee 400, the 22nd race of the season, was no exception with its scheduled date of August 25, 1974.

Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers
Coming into Michigan, three drivers had won all but one of the first 21 races. Cale Yarborough and Richard Petty had each captured eight trophies, and David Pearson was victorious four times in only thirteen starts. King Richard was rolling too with three consecutive wins at Atlanta, Pocono and Talladega as the teams headed for Michigan.

Pearson in the Wood Brothers' #21 Mercury and Buddy Baker in Bud Moore's #15 blue-and-white Ford started on the front row.

Yarborough in Junior Johnson's Carling Beer Chevy and Petty in the famed STP Dodge made up the second row. Bobby Allison - the only winner of the season other than Petty, Pearson and Yarborough - qualified fifth in Roger Penske's Matador.

At the drop of the green, Baker hammered down, got the jump on Pearson, and led the first three laps. Pearson took the lead away from Baker on lap four and led for eight laps before Baker recaptured it for a couple more.

Middle Tennessee's independent driver David Sisco then got some prime time exposure by leading four laps. Sisco started 13th and led a total of 15 laps throughout the day on his way to a ninth place finish. The race ranked among the top performances by Sisco over his seven-year, 133-race Cup career. Sisco recently passed away on July 25, 2016, at the age of 79.

After Sisco's time out front for a few laps, the lead changed hands again. And again. And again. And again. Over the course of the 200-lap race, fans witnessed forty-four lead changes. Only three times did a leader bank a double-digit number of laps out front.

The lion's share of the laps were led by two of the big three in '74: Pearson and Yarborough. The duo took turns swapping the lead much of the day. By mid-race, the two of them were the only two to lead.

With about 35 laps to go, Pearson decided show time was over. He passed Yarborough yet again to take the lead and never relinquished it. And as the race neared its conclusion, Yarborough couldn't even hold second.

With 15 laps to go, Cale hit pit road for an unscheduled stop. Petty's Dodge Charger rallied past Cale's #11 Chevy to nab second despite the 43 leading only two laps during the day.

The race was the 52nd of 63 times that Petty and Pearson finished in the top two positions.

TMC

Friday, August 19, 2016

August 19, 1965 - Sandlapper 200

NASCAR's Grand National drivers arrived in Columbia, SC on August 19, 1965, for the Sandlapper 200. The Thursday night event was a 200-lap affair on Columbia's half-mile dirt surface.

Though many of the drivers raced the track earlier in the season in April's Columbia 200, that race was missing a couple of star drivers. Neither David Pearson nor Richard Petty raced in the event because of the Chrysler boycott against Bill France Sr. and NASCAR. When many of the issues were resolved around mid-season, Petty and Pearson were greenlighted to return to GN racing at most tracks including Columbia.

Dick Hutcherson won the pole for the Sandlapper, and Junior Johnson lined up outside of him on the front row. Ned Jarrett and Tiny Lund nabbed the second row, and career rivals Petty and Pearson started fifth and sixth.

Perry Allen Wood recapped the race in his book Silent Speedways of the Carolinas:
The Mopar boys were back, and the place was jammed with no threat of rain. Many came out to see if Curtis Turner would make his long-awaited return, and he did but to watch. He tried at Spartanburg five days earlier and crashed in time trials.

Ford had the top four spots, but Chrysler was back and hungry. Junior put the yellow Holly Farms 26 out front at the onset and stayed there as the weeding-out process got underway. On lap two, Bob Derrington, Tiger Tom Pistone, and J.T. Putney had a grinding crash at the head of the homestretch for the first caution...

Leader Johnson snapped the throttle linkage and loaded up for 17th. That gave the lead to Hutcherson, who kept that gold and white 29 on the point, only slowed by a couple more cautions...

The career of Sam Smith ended at 108 laps when he bounced Sam Fogle's yellow Ford off a dirt bank, and his Grand National dream evaporated in 13th place. That is about when Cotton made a wedge adjustment to get more traction coming off the turns, and Pearson's Dodge went from OK to great. On lap 116, the Dodge passed [Hutcherson's] gold Ford and except for a few laps during pit stops, Pearson was gone...

It was a Pearson-over-Petty finish this time by about a second with Hutch third on the lead lap... It was an outstanding race, taking Pearson almost and hour and three quarters to gain his 12th career win. ~ p. 64
Source: Spartanburg Herald via Google News Archive
The race was the 9th of 63 times that Petty and Pearson finished in the top two spots.

TMC

Thursday, August 18, 2016

August 18, 1966 - Sandlapper 200

NASCAR's Grand National drivers arrived in South Carolina on August 18, 1966, for some short-track racing on a hot, summer, Thursday night. The Sandlapper 200 was scheduled as a 200-lap race on the half-mile, dirt Columbia Speedway.

Eleven days earlier, Richard Petty won the Dixie 400 at Atlanta International Raceway. The big storyline from the race - even more so than Petty's win - involved two tricked-out cars by legendary innovators and car owners Junior Johnson and Smokey Yunick. Fred Lorenzen raced Junior's infamous Yellow Banana Ford, and Curtis Turner belted into Smokey's Chevrolet. Both cars had all sorts of questionable parts and body shaping, yet both were allowed to race. Many were upset at the spectacle though the fact neither car won helped settle folks down a bit.

Turner felt like folks took life and racing a bit too seriously. Following Atlanta, he agreed to what was expected to be a one-race deal in Junior's Holly Farms-sponsored car at the next race at Bowman Gray Stadium. Though his career had started to wind down, he wanted to give the fans and fellow competitors a fair night of racing if they felt they didn't get that at Atlanta. The Bowman Gray race was postponed a couple of weeks because of rain. Turner agreed to stick with Junior at the next race anyway which turned out to be at Columbia.

In his book Silent Speedways of the Carolinas, author Perry Allen Wood describes Turner's arrival in Columbia with his good faith gesture:
Holly Farms wanted Curtis to look good and told him for the race he had to wear a suit. And he did...a business suit. "I dipped this one in the fireproof stuff this morning," Turner explained to the throng of onlookers glued to his every move. He loosened the tie a bit, hiked up the long sleeves some, and sans jacket, stuck that baby on the front row to everyone's delight. ~ p. 66
Turner's show and front-row qualifying run upstaged the pole winner. Bobby Allison was all business, and he laid down a track record lap to nab the pole. Petty, David Pearson, and Elmo Langley rounded out the top five starters.

Wood continued in his book with a recap of the night's racing action:
When the big field roared off, Turner bulled his way past [Allison's] little Chevelle and took the lead. It was very tentative, but he held it for 134 laps with Allison, Pearson, Petty, [James] Hylton, [Dick] Hutcherson and [Buddy] Baker beating and banging away behind him.

Other fun took place on lap 17 when a furiously-racing Tom Pistone was passing them as he got to them and lost it entering turn one. Tiger struck the railing at the perfect angle to launch the two-tone blue '64 Ford over it and into the lighted sky, then into darkness. It nosed harmlessly down, settling among the small trees and shrubs fringing the backside of the first turn embankment. ~ p. 66
Turner made his only scheduled stop, but it didn't go according to plan. An excruciatingly slow stop pinned Turner deep in the field - but it also gave the fans plenty to watch as Pop picked his way back through the field.
Petty was out for a couple until pesky and popular number 2 scooted under and Allison had the lead. The Hueytown Hustler held the point for 30 laps until his 327 cubic inches started wilting.

On lap 167, unstoppable David Pearson powered past Petty and ambushed Allison for the lead... With Turner screaming past a rapidly fading Allison and closing on the others, a three-car Armageddon was at hand.

With less than five to go, [J.D.] McDuffie got crossed up and ditched his Ford along the backstretch for 12th, bringing a caution flag that doused a surely explosive finish. Under the yellow, Pearson rolled to the checkered flag with Petty and Turner lined up right behind. Even though nearly 10,000 enthusiasts did not get to see the incredible race to the wire that was inevitable, no one felt cheated. ~ p. 67 
Pearson claimed his fourth consecutive Columbia win in the '66 Sandlapper 200. Also, the race was the fifteenth of 63 times Petty and Pearson finished in the top two spots.

TMC