Monday, January 31, 2011

Old school decals: Entry 3 of a mini-series

This entry of my racing-related decals is focused on drivers.

Here's one promoting David Pearson when he drove the Wood Brothers/Purolator Mercury. While I can't remember the exact year I got this one, it had to have been between 1976 and 1979 - the years the Silver Fox drove for them with this body style Merc.

Before Tim Richmond came to NASCAR for a brief - yet successful - career, he spent a couple of years in Indy cars. He earned rookie-of-the- year honors in the 1981 Indianapolis 500. I got this decal by writing the manufacturer of the UNO card game.

Junie Donlavey was a Virginia gentlemen and long-time car owner. Many drivers cycled through his car. Some of them were veteran drivers like Charlie Glotzbach, Dick Brooks, Jody Ridley, Benny Parsons, and Dick Trickle. And some were predicted to be up-and-comers at the time they hitched a ride with Donlavey such as Ken Schrader, Bobby Hillin Jr, Wally Dallenbach Jr, and Mike Wallace. (All predictions don't come true obviously.)

This decal is one for Ridley for the 1981 season. Coincidentally perhaps, Ridley gave Donlavey his only win as a car owner in 850+ starts in the 1981 Mason-Dixon 500 at Dover.

Many folks who became NASCAR fans in the late 1980s and into the 1990s think Dale Earnhardt was always the Man In Black. I've also heard many folks talk about his 7 championships with Richard Childress Racing and the #3 Monte Carlo. Turns out neither is true.

As Dale Jr. reminded folks in the 2010 Daytona Nationwide race, Dale Sr. raced much of the early 1980s in blue-and-yellow cars sponsored by Wrangler jeans. Also, his first Cup was won not with Childress but with car owner Rod Osterland in a #2 Chevy. In 1981, the year of this decal, Osterland Racing switched over to a Pontiac Grand Prix. Earnhardt left about 2/3 of the way through the season to join Childress.

The other thing Earnhardt fans often forget about is Dale Sr. actually drove a Ford in 1982-1983. After joining Childress in late 1981, they only stayed together the rest of that season. Childress encouraged Earnhardt to look elsewhere while he built up Richard Childress Racing. Dale Sr. went to Bud Moore's Ford team along with his Wrangler sponsorship for two years.

I'll wrap this entry up with a decal for the late Benny Parsons, the 1973 Winston Cup champion and 1975 Daytona 500 winner. Of the cars U.S. Tobacco sponsored, Harry Gant's Skoal Bandit was perhaps the most well-recognized. But I always thought BP's Cope car was a pretty cool looking car in its own right.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Old school decals: Entry 2 of a mini-series

Continuing the mini-series of a few of my racing-related decals - entry #2...

When Roger Penske built his 2-mile Michigan oval, the track was originally named Michigan International Speedway. The track was later bundled with Penske's California Speedway, sold to International Speedway Corporation (NASCAR's publicly-traded kissin' cousin company), and renamed simply Michigan Speedway.

For about the last 30 years, all the media and fan hype during the off-season builds toward February's Daytona 500 to open a new Cup season. Throughout the 1970s and into the early 1980s, however, the Cup drivers opened the season in January at the road course in Riverside, CA. Also, when Ontario Motor Speedway closed following the 1980 season, Riverside took its place as the season-ending race. NASCAR's new Cup champ was crowned at Riverside from 1981 through 1988 before Riverside too went the way of Ontario.
  • Bobby Allison secured his one and only Cup championship at Riverside in 1983.
  • Ricky Rudd and Bill Elliott won their first career Cup races at Riverside.
  • Tim Richmond won his first (driving for J.D. Stacy) and last (driving for Rick Hendrick) Cup races at the track.
  • Richard Petty won at Riverside in 1969 in his first ever race with Ford and again in 1972 in his first ever race with STP as a sponsor.
Here's one I had forgotten about - a decal of Nashville Speedway. As I recall, I think track workers gave away the stickers on certain nights as fans entered the track. The hope was fans would put them on the rear glass of their cars, and it seems like certain freebies were available if you were spotted with the decal. But I'm not 100% certain. However, I do remember the significance of the 92 on the car on the decal. Do you? Make your guess in the comments section. Here is a hint. Its the car number of a speedway track champion who went on to have a long, if not successful, career in Cup.

Rockingham. The Rock. Two names most often used for the track in the sandhills of North Carolina. Rarely did folks refer to it by its proper name: North Carolina Motor Speedway. The track lost its Cup dates early in the 2000s and was all but given up for dead. But Andy Hillenburg bought the track, spruced it up, renamed it Rockingham Speedway, and a few events have now returned. Its certainly a happier story than the fate that befell tracks like Riverside, Ontario, Trenton, Nashville, North Wilkesboro, and countless others.

Like Rockingham, few folks ever called Talladega by its original name: Alabama International Motor Speedway. Even shortening it to the acronym AIMS didn't help the name roll off the tongue. Eventually International Speedway Corporation got tired of wrestling with the name and rebranded the track as Talladega Superspeedway. If they had really wanted to cater to the track's diehards, they would have named it "Tallahdayger".

I'll close this entry with a couple of decals from the good ol' days of Atlanta. The track was a true oval, and the track was named Atlanta International Raceway (AIR). When Bruton Smith and Speedway Motorsports bought the track, the name was changed to Atlanta Motor Speedway. For many years, this logo is the one I most often associated with the track.

This next one, however, baffles me. I've got the decal, but I don't have a memory or the knowledge. The logo is a good bit different than the AIR logo I remember. But it was also fun for me to re-discover the decal and logo unexpectedly.

Entry #3: Hmm, I think I might roll with decals of non-Petty drivers.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Old school decals: Entry 1 of a mini-series

While looking through a lot of old racing memorabilia earlier this week, I stumbled across an envelope of racing-related decals. From the late 1970s through the mid-80s spanning my pre-teen through late college years, I was a letter-writing, swag-begging, wide-eyed race fan. Letters were sent to just about any racing-related entity for whom I could get an address. Tracks, corporations who sponsored drivers and/or races, fan clubs, etc.

Back in the day, the overwhelming majority of organizations to whom I wrote sent something to me - photos, postcards, brochures, programs, patches, press kits, decals, etc. I've held on to virtually everything sent to me back then.

So how about a mini-series of a few old school decals I've still got. I won't bore you with some of the logos that have remained the same such as STP, Bell helmets, Holley carbs, Gabriel shocks, etc. Instead, I'd like to share images of a few of them whose shelf-life has come and gone - except for historical look-back purposes.

Because this is the first in the series, where else can I start but with a Petty theme?

My first Richard Petty decal - designed to look like his famed STP Dodge Charger.

A year or so after the above decal was released, the below decal became available. The King would tack on two more Daytona 500 victories in his career to add to the five noted on the decal.

I received this one for being a sh0-nuff, card-carrying member of the Richard Petty fan club.
To answer your question, yes I do still have my fan club membership card.

Southern Pride car washes was an associate sponsor on the 43 in 1979-1980 time frameHere the company can clearly be seen as a prominent associate sponsor on Petty's Oldsmobile on its way to victory in the 1979 Daytona 500.

Entry 2: How about NASCAR tracks? Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, do you collect old decals also? If so, let me know. After I blog my own, I'm open minded about perhaps blogging favorites of others.

Update 2011-01-31: Just found this photo of The King sporting a trucker's cap with a Southern Pride Car Wash patch matching the decal I've got.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Schaefer brings warmth to cold winter days

Composed while continuing my research of Woody and Bobby Fisher...

Just because the temps have dropped below freezing doesn't mean the Schaefer Hall of Fame is at rest. Quite the contrary. As always, the SHOF and SROH find new ways to have fun with Schaefer beer.

Cuba proved to his bride, Havana Montana, he still has it as the Latin Lover with his Christmas gift to her of a Schaefer beer bed spread. Ooh, looks satin. Who says love can't last?

After meeting SROH member, 200WINZ, in Newark NJ, he clued me in that I should expect a neat gift in the mail. Needless to say, I was most pleasantly surprised with his gift of several sho-nuff Schaefer glasses.

After a couple of days with the in-laws at Christmas, TMC was quite ready to get home. Leaving my wife and kids to spend extra days visiting, I returned to an ahhhh silent house. I quickly set about finding a suitable post-Christmas meal, and there in the fridge I found it. Leftover sausage balls made by my mother (God bless that woman) and some ready-to-eat, peeled shrimp. A cold Schaefer was the perfect and only choice to accompany this high-living meal.

Its been a TMC tradition for many, many years to take vacation from Christmas Eve through New Year's Day. Some years I'm pretty productive in knocking off items from the honey-do list. Other years (including this one) are spent in a completely useless manner. Staying up late, sleeping in late, not showering until 2:00 in the afternoon, going three days between shaves, etc. Perfect. Another enjoyable aspect of a day off from work is enjoying a steaming bowl of homemade chili with a Schaefer to cleanse my palette.

SROH member Bruton spent New Year's Day with his brother watching their Georgia Bulldogs play in the Liberty Bowl. When one (or maybe it was both of them) made a run to the garbage can, they suddenly realized the can's manufacturer. SCHAEFER!

I'm not about to suggest Schaefer belongs on or in a garbage can. Far from it as is evidenced by prior postings. Instead, I think their find is analogous to the scene in National Treasure when Nicholas Cage reveals a coded message on the back of the Declaration of Independence using nothing more than lemon juice and a Q-tip.

After a good laugh, Bruton and his brother turned their focus to the game. They couldn't wait for those Dawgs to gnash their teeth into Central Florida. Only one problem - a directional school emasculated the boys from Athens. Cue Archie Campbell and the boys from Hee Haw:

Gloom, despair, and agony on me.
Deep dark depression, excessive misery.

But what have I said many times before about Schaefer being a unifier? It lifts the spirits, and Bruton quickly found a way to put the UGAly loss behind him.

The first week or so of January was kind to the south weather-wise. But shortly after Elvis' birthday on January 8, winter returned in a big sort of way. Cold temps and lots of snow roared through the south - Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina - before heading up the Eastern seaboard.

Bruton left his house only to find angry Snow Thing had arisen from his driveway! AHHHHH! EEK! EEK!

But keeping his cool, Bruton offered the beast the opportunity to share a Schaefer. And like the bonding of Kris Kringle and the Winter Warlock in the Rankin-Bass classic, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, the Snow Beast and Bruton were soon buds.

With an unexpected day off from work and idle time on my hands, I thought it only made sense to try my hand at redneck skiing. To the untrained eye, the photo below may look like it includes 2x4's, duct tape, and a couple of rakes. But in the hands of a creative yet foolish person such as toomuchcountry, the parts represent TMC Snow Sports!

Of course, the only inducement I'd consider to attempt an ill-advised stunt would be a bucket of snow-cold Schaefer.

With Bruton solidly in the SROH, he's now got his brother believing in the Schaef. He built a small pile of chips in his corner by scoring Schaefer Light at a couple of Food Lions in central Georgia - a place previously thought not to have Schaefer. And he earned an extra bonus point for a cool cowboy hat. But he gets demerits for having a rotten cell phone camera. Geez man, surely you can spring for a 2-year contract to get at least a 2 megapixel camera on a phone for free!

Last weekend, Bruton and company played a card game called 3-13. I've never heard of it - apparently its some form of rummy. I thought rummy was a great game in its own right. Like the NASCAR points system, I didn't realize any changes were needed to the rules of rummy to make the game legit or gin up interest. But I suppose if Schaefer is involved, I'd be up for bending a few rules here and there.

Even with cold weather in our midst, we are now past the half-way mark of January. In less than a month, the engines will roar yet again at Daytona. Despite my general boredom with the NASCAR of today, my disdain for Brian France, my apathy towards Jimmie Johnson, and my concerns for the sport's economic well-being, it'll still be Daytona-time ... bottom-line.

Its that time of year when I again become a racing optimist. I believe...I believe...Richard Petty Motorsports will be a contender. I start making plans to attend two or three races. I am convinced Hendrick Motorsports can be defeated. I believe Larry McReynolds can learn proper grammar and Darrell Waltrip can master humility.

So ladies and gentlemen, get prepared to START...YOUR...SCHAEFER!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Woody Fisher

The word 'woody' can conjure up a lot of visual images. With the full intention of keeping this entry on the safe side of the fine line of decency, a few Woodys folks often think about include:

An iconic beach-combing car ...

Cheers, White Men Can't Jump, The Cowboy Way, Kingpin, Natural Born Killers...

The Toy Story trilogy...

The legendary Ohio State football coach who choked...

However, I also recently learned of another Woody - race driver Woody Fisher. He was from near Cincinnati, Ohio and became successful in the family's beer distribution business. He took up stock car racing as a hobby, ran several ARCA and handful of USAC stock car races in the Midwest, and earned enough jack from distributing beer to have another residence in Florida.

During the period of his brief career, Woody won five career ARCA races. In 1975, he won 3 of 8 races he entered in a 13-race ARCA schedule, finished 4th in points, and earned the series' Rookie Of The Year award. He moved up one spot in 1976 to finish 3rd in the final standings.

Source: ARCA Racing
Among the cars Fisher raced, Woody raced several times in Chrysler "kit cars" such as Plymouth Dusters, Plymouth Volares, Dodge Darts, etc. In the late 1960s through the mid 1970s, Petty Enterprises was a distributor for Chrysler racing parts. They built turn-key "kit cars" and sold them to late model racers across the nation. Many of the cars even came with 43 decals in the Petty Enterprises font. When I was a kid, I remember building a model such as the one pictured here.

Fisher won an ARCA race at Nashville's Fairgrounds Speedway in June 1975 driving one of these Chrysler products. And, here's a photo of Woody racing a Stroh's beer-sponsored kit car to finish second in an October 1975 ARCA race in Dayton, Ohio.

In 1976, Woody raised his racing stakes a bit. He procured what appears to be a Petty Enterprises-built Dodge Charger, numbered it #75, added Fisher Brothers as a sponsor (presumably the family beer distributor), and raced it to the pole in the ARCA race at Talladega. Unfortunately, he suffered engine failure and finished 22nd.

For the February 1977 ARCA 200 race at Daytona, Fisher increased his commitment yet again. From what I've learned, he went to Petty Enterprises and offered to to buy a top-of-the-line '74 Dodge Charger equal to what Richard would race in the Daytona 500 Cup race. Look closely in the photo below of the Petty shop, and you will see Woody's Charger in the background.

The Pettys agreed to the sale with a couple of conditions:
  • One, Fisher couldn't race the car in NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup) events against Richard.
  • Two, the Pettys would maintain the car for him. I'm sure Richard, Maurice, Lee, and Dale Inman didn't want too many trade secrets made available if Fisher happened to get a handsome offer for the car.
Woody got his car, took it to the beach, won the pole, and then won his 5th and final career ARCA race! As noted earlier, Fisher was a successful beer distributor. Schlitz Light beer adorned the sides of the winning #70 Dodge in 1977.

Source: Russ Thompson from the Jay Donoho Collection
Chris Hussey, who once work for Petty Enterprises, told me the following through an e-mail exchange:
Dale [Inman] said the Fishers were good people and had nothing but nice things to say about the two brothers from the Cincinnati area. The car in question was built brand new for Woody to debut at the Daytona ARCA race. It was identical to the Cup car built for Richard that winter. Dale claims it was as nice as the 43 with the same attention to detail throughout. Long-time PE employee Richie Barsz went to Florida with the car as crew chief, and the PE crew pitted the car for the race. Dale remembers Woody being very nervous before qualifying and then going 7 MPH faster than he had practiced.
After Woody's win at Daytona in February, he piloted the #70 Charger a couple of more times in 1977 - at the March USAC stock car race in Ontario, CA and again in August in the Talladega ARCA race.

Woody's driving of the car seems to have ended at that point. He had a brief dalliance with Cup racing starting three races in 1978 for former driver turned owner Henley Gray. Returning to Daytona in February 1979, Woody participated in a a couple of races:
  • He finished 21st in the ARCA 200 (won by Kyle Petty in his debut stock car race).
  • He also attempted to qualify for the Daytona 500 by racing in the first 125-mile qualifying race in a #75 Chevy; however, he finished 20th and did not make the 500.
The 1977 ARCA-winning Charger itself, however, apparently had more life in it after Woody moved on to other cars. In a transaction I don't yet fully understand - but am still exploring - Woody's younger brother, Bobby Fisher Jr. took over the car. Bobby re-numbered the car to #74, replaced the Schlitz Light beer sponsorship with Stroh's, made whatever tweaks were necessary to convert the car from ARCA-eligible to NASCAR-eligible, and raced the Dodge to an 11th place finish in Bobby's debut NASCAR start in the World Service Life 300 late model sportsman race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October 1977. (For you young'uns, the NASCAR late model sportsman series was the predecessor to the Busch/Nationwide series we know today.)

Credit Don Smyle of Smyle Media / Checkered Past Collectibles 
Woody Fisher passed away on December 21, 2003, at the young age of 60. According to Chris Hussey, Dale Inman "said Woody died with a brain tumor. But stayed in contact with the PE folks till his death."

Two weeks ago, I knew ZERO about the Fishers. I've followed the Pettys since the mid-1970s. I've got books, photos, magazines, autographs, collectibles, etc. I post to multiple Petty-themed message boards, and I've developed friendships with folks who have followed the Pettys as long or longer as me. Yet, somehow I'd never heard about this aspect of the Petty history.

As for Bobby Fisher, I'm still learning. Stay tuned for Woody and Bobby Fisher...The Sequel.

An unintended search result in the Google News Archive led me to this trivia. Subsequent Google searches didn't help me a lot. Several folks helped me nail down some answers to my questions and provided photos. Thanks to Roush-Fenway's Mike Beam, Chris Hussey, Dale Inman (via Chris), Billy Biscoe, Russ Thompson, and Don Smyle of Smyle Media/Checkered Past Collectibles (pictured below with - who else - The King).