An iconic beach-combing car ...
The legendary Ohio State football coach who choked...
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|
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.
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.
|Credit Don Smyle of Smyle Media / Checkered Past Collectibles|
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).