Monday, August 29, 2011

August 29 - This day in Petty history

1970 - Richard Petty wins the Halifax County 100 from the pole at South Boston Speedway in Virginia for his 114th career victory. Note the time of the race - 1 hour, 22 minutes. Its hard to imagine the brevity of that race when looking through the lens of a series sponsored by Winston, Nextel and Sprint.

According to Greg Fielden in Forty Years of Stock Car Racing - Volume 3, Bobby Isaac qualified second to Petty. Right before the start of the race, however, legendary crew chief Harry Hyde opted to bolt on a softer tire compound on Isaac's Dodge (something that can't be done today). Because of the change, Isaac had to start 24th and shotgun on the field. He passed every car but one - the blue Plymouth of Petty who led all but 10 laps of the 281-lap race.

Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire

Sunday, August 28, 2011

August 28 - This day in Petty history

1970 - Richard Petty pockets his 113th career victory by winning from the pole in the Myers Brothers 250 at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC.

Source: The Dispatch via Google News Archive
Richard's 1970 season is most closely associated with his runs in the winged Plymouth Superbird.

However, the Grand National schedule in that era included far more short-track races than in NASCAR's 'modern era' (Winston-Nextel-Sprint Cup years). The 'Bird wasn't the best car for those tracks, so Petty Enterprises ran a Plymouth Road Runner similar to this one in many events - including Richard's win at Bowman Gray.

Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire


Saturday, August 27, 2011

August 27 - This day in Petty history

1971 - Richard Petty wins his 136th career race from the pole in the Sandlapper 200 at Columbia Speedway in South Carolina.

With R.J. Reynolds joining the sport with its Winston cigarettes as the series' title sponsor, the 1972 schedule was cut to 31 races from 48 races in 1971. As a result, Petty's win at Columbia turned out to be the final NASCAR Grand National/Cup race at the track.

Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers

The race included a mixture of the full-sized Grand National cars such as Petty's Plymouth and Dodge Chargers and the smaller-sized cars from NASCAR's Grand American series such as Ford Mustangs and AMC Javelins. As noted in this article, the race was the third event with cars from the two series. If you read the article, you will find that NASCAR and the track promoter were still fiddling with the rules two days before the race. Its not just a recent phenomenon folks.

In his book, Silent Speedways of the Carolinas, Perry Allen Wood writes:
[T]his was Columbia Speedway's goodbye in its final race. Time trials were completed with Petty on the pole and H.B. Bailey of Houston outside in a red Pontiac Firebird 36...The first half mile went to Petty, but [Ron] Keselowski crashed out for last, 30th, just like last time here...On the 55th circuit and still badgering leader Petty every lap, H.B. got the Firebird crossed up entering the first turn and pulverized the rail, nearly leaping off into the night...From the green flag to the checkers, it boiled down to a war between Petty and Grand American superstar [Tiny] Lund and [Jim] Paschal...With 13 laps to go, Petty made a daring move under those infield lights as he out-horsepowered the Camaro and Javelin down the backstretch, passing Tiny just as they braked for turn three. From there, [nothing] could keep Petty from his second straight victory in a row here and seven for 24 overall. (pp. 80-81)
Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
Edited August 24, 2014

Friday, August 26, 2011

Before The Bristol Trophy

Since 1983, the Bristol Cup winner has been awarded an awesome, big-honkin’ trophy. 4-1/2 feet tall, pewter, winged angels, ornamented. Before Bristol winners started hoisting it, however, the trophy was presented elsewhere.

Before the Bristol dominator of the 1980s, Mr. Boogity x3...

Before Rowdy, the current conqueror of Bristol...

Before Jeff Burton whose 2008 win lead a top 3 sweep by RCR cars when the efforts of three Joe Gibbs Racing cars came off the rails with just a few laps remaining...

Even before Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights (the movie that should have received an Academy Award in the category of Greatest Movie Ever Made)...

Before the rise of the Wonder Boy...

Before Cuzzin...

Before a driver who is genuinely Happy...

And before one who fakes his happiness...

Before Texas Terry following his legendary win in the '95 Bristol night race...

And before the Intimidator who rattled Terry's cage a couple of years later...

Yep, before any of these superstars earned the coveted trophy for grinding it out on the Bristol bull-ring, Ol' TMC was part of an effort to bank one.

The McGavock High School Marching Raiders band was awarded the same trophy in October 1979 as the grand champion of the Music City Invitational competition in Nashville, Tennessee. We earned it a second time in October 1982.

TMC in his uniform as Drum Cap'n

So I was involved in the collective efforts to win this great trophy before any NASCAR driver. As you'll notice in the photo, we also earned another trophy - the Governor's Cup - for being the top band in the state of Tennessee those years. These trophies came with a trade-off though. While I got to hold the Governor's Cup, NASCAR winners got to squeeze up to Miss Winston Cup, Miss Nextel Cup, and Miss Sprint Cup. Oh well...


Thursday, August 25, 2011

August 25 - This day in Petty history

1967 - Richard Petty earns his 68th career victory by winning from the pole in a 200-lap race at Savannah Speedway in Georgia.

Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

August 24 - This day in Petty history

1975 - Richard Petty narrowly wins his 173rd career race over rival and fellow future NASCAR Hall of Fame member, David Pearson, in the Champion Spark Plug 400 at Michigan. The two swapped the lead five times during the final five laps. When the checkers fell, the King won by half a car-length.

Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers
Source: Gadsden Times via Google News Archive
The MRN radio broadcast is available for streaming as part of Motor Racing Network's series of Classic Races. You can stream there or listen using the widget below.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

August 23 - This day in Petty history

1968 - Richard Petty earns his 86th race at South Boston, Virginia by winning the pole and leading all but two laps of the 100-mile, 267-lap race.

NASCAR ran 10 Grand National races at the .375 paved mile South Boston track between 1960 and 1971, and Petty won five of them.

Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire


Monday, August 22, 2011

August 22 - This day in Petty history

1969 - Richard Petty wins his 100th career NASCAR Grand National race. He wins the pole and leads only 9 laps in the Myers Brothers 250 at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC.

The race is significant enough to merit its own Wikipedia entry!

Petty's accomplishment nearly had to wait until another event. After starting on the pole, Petty spun on lap 1 after nudging the back end of of Bobby Isaac's car. However, he was able to get it headed in the right direction without losing a lap. Isaac then proceeded to dominate the race by leading 241 laps. He and Petty had to make a final pit stop for fuel. Isaac ran out of gas after he had passed the pit road entrance. He lost a 2-lap lead as he coasted around. Petty too ran out of gas; however, he ran out before the pit road entrance. He was able to coast into his pit stall, get some fuel, and take the win.

Petty's milestone win is almost twice the total of the second winningest driver, Lee Petty. Lee finished his career with 54 wins. And for those who have only become NASCAR fans (or media members) in recent years, Richard's 100 wins were all in the Grand National/Cup series vs. accumulated through three series as accomplished by Kyle Busch.

Interestingly, Richard earned his 100th win in the single season he raced Fords rather than his traditional Plymouths and Dodges.

Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
A few years ago, WIX Oil Filters released a collectible die-cast of Petty's car to commemorate the 100th victory.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

August 21 - This day in Petty history

1962 - Richard Petty wins from the pole in a 200 lap race at Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds speedway in David Pearson's hometown, Spartanburg SC, to score his 12th career victory.

To illustrate how much times have changed, the race was run on a Tuesday night. Perry Allen Wood writes in his book Silent Speedways of the Carolinas:
The last five races had been won by either Petty or (teammate Jim) Paschal in a Plymouth, and 14 other cars came to Spartanburg to put a stop to it... Qualifying those stockers by power sliding through the first and second turns was a thing of beauty. They came thundering down the homestretch and right before it ended, cut the power and cocked the car left, setting the rear end out toward the boards. Dead silence for just a beat. Then accelerator to the floor while turning back hard right, wide open through one and two, and down the backstretch with the engine roaring, car drifting around searching for grip and firing dust from the screaming rear tires... As in the past, (Joe) Weatherly and Petty duked it out at the front in an electrifying display the entire race... One hour and forty minutes after the start, Petty won his third and the team's sixth in a row, beating Weatherly by half a lap. ~pp. 15-16
Wood also pointed out the race featured a top driver from California, Dick Getty. So it was expected either Dick Getty or Dick Petty (as he was often called early in his career) would win. As it turns out, the two book-ended the finishing order. Petty won the race, and Getty finished dead stinkin' last.

Source: Spartanburg Herald via Google News Archive
Edited August 17, 2014

Friday, August 19, 2011

August 19 - This day in Petty history

1979 - Richard Petty wins his 188th career race in the Champion Spark Plug 400 at Roger Penske's Michigan International Speedway.

Source: Jerry Bushmire
Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers
Three weeks earlier, rookie Dale Earnhardt suffered a hard crash at Pocono and was sidelined for a few weeks. Veteran David Pearson - who had parted ways with the famed Wood Brothers earlier in the season - was rallied to fill-in as Earnhardt healed. In his second start in the Rod Osterlund Chevrolet, Pearson won the pole for the Michigan race.

Credit: John Betts at
Bobby Allison qualified alongside Pearson. Neil Bonnett, rookie Terry Labonte and Richard Petty rounded out the top 5 qualifiers. Another rookie, Kyle Petty, made his first Michigan start in an STP Dodge Magnum and finished 13th.

Country singer Marty Robbins made his third and final start of the 1979 season. He qualified 27th; however, his day ended early just as his other 1979 starts did - with engine failure in his #6 Dodge Magnum. Robbins changed his car number to 6 in 1979 and 1980 after graciously giving up his previous number, 42, to Kyle Petty as he began his Cup career.

Credit: John Betts at
The race got off to a rocky start. On the third lap, independent driver D.K. Ulrich lost an engine in his Buick.

Credit: John Betts at
Behind him, six cars tangled as they slid in the oil from Ulrich's broken motor. Blackie Wangerin got the worst of it. He hit the outer guardrail at full speed, sailed out of the track and slid down the embankment. Fortunately, he was not seriously injured.

Buddy Baker, who started 11th, found his way to the front a few times in the first half of the 200-lap race. Baker dominated by leading an 84 lap segment as the race entered its second half. In his Harry Ranier #28 Monte Carlo, Baker took the white flag - but with King Richard in hot pursuit. Petty's 43 caught Baker as the two exited turn 4 and headed for the checkers. With fresher tires on Petty's car and a slip by Baker, Petty was able to squeeze by for the win.

Richard and Lynda Petty in victory lane along with Ralph Salvino from STP. Lynda and Ralph are sporting the traditional Petty cap look - flat brim with angled edges. Richard apparently didn't have time to adjust his.

Courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
Richard with his own STP angled-brim hat (guessing it was later passed to Lynda for the photo shown above)...

Courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
Edited August 19, 2014

Thursday, August 18, 2011

August 18 - This day in Petty history

1962 - Richard Petty picks up career win number 11 by winning the International 200 at the quarter-mile track in Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC.

Bowman Gray was a staple track on the Grand National circuit from the late 1950s until the schedule was restructured as the Winston Cup Grand National Series in 1971. Petty had pretty good success at the track with four wins and 20 top 5's in 26 total starts.

In March 2011, published an article about Bowman Gray under its Hometracks section - including a photo from the 1962 race of Petty leading Larry Thomas. The article gets a +1 bump for being written by Paul Schaefer.

The final Grand National race at Bowman Gray was the Myers Brothers 250 in 1971 and was won by Bobby Allison. Well, sorta...

Source: Spartanburg Herald via Google News Archive
Edited August 15, 2014

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August 17 - This day in Petty history

1967 - Richard Petty wins from the pole in the Sandlapper 200 at Columbia Speedway in South Carolina to earn his 67th career victory. In winning, he breaks the record for the number of wins in a season.

Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

August 16 - This day in Petty history - part 2

1981 - Richard scores career win number 195 by taking the Champion Spark Plug 400 at Michigan. The King took the lead from Bobby Allison with 5 laps to go and then held off Darrell Waltrip by two car lengths for the win.

Source: Jerry Bushmire
Dale Earnhardt made his debut as the driver for Richard Childress Racing. He raced a Wrangler Jeans Pontiac to a ninth place finish. He had resigned after the previous race from the J.D. Stacy racing team.

Credit: John Betts at
King racing among a group of greats: Harry Gant, Ricky Rudd and Bobby Allison.

Many fans see today's Richard Petty as the laid-back guy with the cowboy hat, sunglasses, toothy smile, and a fancy autograph. And he is. But in his time, he was also a fierce competitor. I love his swagger in this article.

Articles and pictures courtesy of Jerry Bushmire


August 16 - This day in Petty history - part 1

1964 - Richard Petty earns his 35th career victory by winning the Mountaineer 500 in Huntington, West Virginia.

The expression on the winner's face is priceless.

Photo and article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire

Friday, August 12, 2011

August 12 - This day in Petty history

1967 - Richard scores his 66th career win in the Myers Brothers 250 at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC.

Petty won the pole and led all 250 laps of the race en route to a dominating victory. Former Petty Enterprises teammate Jim Paschal finished 2nd, three laps down to Petty.

Southern MotoRacing photo courtesy of Harvey Tollison
The win was Petty's 18th of the season which tied the record of Tim Flock set FIFTEEN years earlier. After nabbing this win, 43 kept on a'rollin. When the season ended, Petty obliterated Flock's record by winning 27 races in 1967.

The widows of Billy (left) and Bobby (right) Myers presented The King with his trophy for winning the race. Bobby's widow, Mrs. Lorene Myers, is the mother of long-time Richard Childress Racing gasman, Danny "Chocolate" Myers.

Southern MotoRacing photo courtesy of Harvey Tollison
Source: Spartanburg Herald-Journal via Google News Archive
Edited September 29, 2014