Thursday, October 27, 2011

October 27 - This day in Petty history

1968 - Richard Petty scores his 91st career victory by winning the American 500 at Rockingham. The win was the first superspeedway victory for the King in over a year - hard to believe for a team that won 27 races in 1967. Rival David Pearson finished second, but he wrapped up his second NASCAR Grand National championship.
Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers
Cale Yarborough started from the pole in his #21 Wood Brothers Mercury, and Pearson started on the front row with him. Bobby Isaac and The King started from the second row to represent the Mopar crowd.

Isaac controlled much of the first half of the race. Others took their turn up front, but Isaac's #71 Dodge generally found his way back around each of them. As the race began its second half, Yarborough acted as if he might be a contender as he led a couple of segments of sizable laps.

Photo courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
Isaac and Yarborough both developed engine problems, however, and their early laps led meant nothing when the day was done. With about 150 laps to go and the two rabbits out of the race, the two giants of Grand National racing - Petty and Pearson - ensured the race would be settled between the two of them. Check out this short video recap of the race. Its interesting to see Richard cruising around the track with his arm resting on the door sill and out the window - no window nets in that era.

Photo courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
Pearson hung tough with the 43 for a while, but Petty's Plymouth was simply too strong. He lapped Pearson, and led 151 of the race's final 175 laps. As the race drew to a close, the Petty crew radioed Richard to back off his speed a bit. Engine builder Maurice Petty was apparently concerned his motor may not last, and he wanted to ensure Richard didn't give away a relatively easy victory. The move was not without risk though. In backing off, Petty allowed Pearson to get his lap back. Had an untimely caution flag flown, the strategy could have backfired on the Level Cross bunch.

Photo courtesy of Harvey Tollison at RacersReunion
Another victory lane photo from - where many more photos from the race can be viewed:

Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire

Edited October 26, 2014

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

October 25 - This day in Petty history

1964 - Richard Petty wins a 334-lap race on the one-third mile Harris (NC) Speedway paved track. The race was the first of only two NASCAR Grand National races run at Harris. Rather than drive #43 for which he is most famous, The King raced a #41 Petty Plymouth.

In Silent Speedways of the Carolinas, Perry Allen Wood writes:
...Billy Wade had Bud Moore's Marauder on the pole at just under 65 MPH. Competition was stiff after a rare week off following the National 400 in Charlotte. Cotton (Owens) brought two Dodges up the hill from Spartanburg, Pearson's 6 and Isaac's 5... Wade led the first 100 laps and fell out, finishing 18th. Then Pearson led for 59 more before retiring to 15th. The last 40 were Richard Petty's and he copped his 36th career win. p.97
Randy G., fellow member at RacersReunion, gave me permission to share the next three photos from the race. All were shot by Bobby Parks who was the track's photographer, and he gave copies of the photos to Randy.

Richard (41) chasing rival David Pearson (6):

Door-to-door battle between 2 NASCAR Hall of Famers: race winner King (41) and second-place Ned Jarrett (11):

The race winner!

Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire

Monday, October 24, 2011

October 24 - This day in Petty history - part 2

1976 - Richard Petty wins his 180th career race and sweeps Rockingham for the year by winning the American 500.

Bobby W., fellow member at RacersReunion, remembers...
I planned this gala event. Me and my new wife of 3 months could go to Rockingham for that fall's 500. I was really on the ball, ordered tickets, happily got up before day, and drove the 2+ hours to the Rock. It was the most perfect day I've ever spent at a race track. Incredible autumn weather, and another dominating Richard Petty victory at Rockingham. At the last moment, my dad's friends procured tickets and planned their own trip - only they would fly. We were seated in different sections of the grand stands. I knew my dad was at the race, but I never saw him. I knew he would be thrilled that Richard had won. On the flight back home, dad's plane crashed over rural Columbus county, NC. My dad was fatally injured, but the last race he ever attended was fittingly won by Richard.
Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers
The next two photos show Richard in victory lane with Miss Winston, Pattie Huffman. A couple of years later, she became his daughter-in-law when she married Kyle Petty.

Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire

October 24 - This day in Petty history - part 1

1971 - Petty cars dominate the American 500 at Rockingham. Buddy Baker, in #11 Petty Enterprises Dodge leads 209 laps but finishes second to teammate Richard Petty. King Richard leads 189 laps, wins the race and collects his 138th career victory.

Baker claimed Petty passed him illegally under a caution flag. Petty asserted he didn't, and NASCAR agreed.

Also, David Pearson raced the #99 STP Plymouth for Ray Nichels. Pearson substituted for the team's regular driver, Fred Lorenzen. Fast Freddy skipped the race based on his doctor's advice in response to serious headaches he had been experiencing. In recent years, I learned Pearson raced an STP Pontiac for Nichels in the 1971 season-ending Texas 500 at Texas World Speedway. But research for this blog entry surfaced the trivia of Pearson driving an STP Plymouth before Richard Petty.

After the race was over, Petty collapsed on the ground from exhaustion.

After a few minutes, he sat up and was able to move around to the front of the winning 43. Note the Professional Drivers Association (PDA) patch still being worn on his left shoulder.

After regaining some strength, the King followed through with the interviews...

...and the awarding of the trophy...

...and of course, the kisses for the winner!

Article and photos courtesy of Jerry Bushmire

Friday, October 21, 2011

October 21 - This day in Petty history

1979 - Richard Petty wins his 190th career Grand National race in the American 500 at Rockingham. He also takes over the points lead over Darrell Waltrip in his pursuit of his seventh NASCAR Grand National / Winston Cup title.

Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers
Buddy Baker won the pole for the race in his Harry Ranier #28 Monte Carlo - his 6th of seven top spots during the 1979 season. Baker narrowly nipped Benny Parsons who had to settle for a front row starting spot but without a pole-winning trophy. Championship contender Waltrip started third with Neil Bonnet in the Wood Brothers Purolator Mercury flanking him. The King lined up 7th - a fortuitously numbered spot considering he ended up notching his 7th title a few weeks later.

One driver attempting to qualify for the race was Larry Pearson, son of David Pearson. After a couple of years of racing in NASCAR's Baby Grand series for small sedans, Larry was ready to give The Big Time a shot. He hitched a ride in Junie Donlavey's Mercury as somewhat of a teammate to Donlavey's regular driver, Ricky Rudd. Pearson's sponsors were Sunny King Ford of Anniston, AL (a frequent supporter of Donlavey's cars) and Andre The Giant Travel Agency! During a practice session before the first round of qualifying, however, Pearson spun and wrecked his Mercury. The team thrashed to make repairs, but Pearson couldn't muster enough speed in any of the qualifying sessions to make the show. His Cup debut wouldn't come for another six years when he qualified for the 1986 Daytona 500.

Though Pearson's car sponsored by Andre The Giant went home early, the famed wrassler - a North Carolina resident - stayed. He was the grand marshal for the race, posed with track and race team owner L.G. DeWitt, and clowned around a bit with the Unocal Racestoppers.

Credit: Rockingham Speedway by Rick Houston
Credit: Rockingham Speedway by Rick Houston
The race was competitive with a number of lead changes. As the race entered its second half, the two cars of Parsons and Petty separated themselves and had several back-and-forth lead exchanges. With about 10 to go though, Petty decided it was time to grab the gold. He passed Parsons for the final time and led the remaining nine laps.

Bobby W., fellow member at, remembers...
For that year's Rockingham race, me and friends simply bought $8.00 general admission tickets for the backstretch stands. Those tickets only allowed access to the first 10 rows of stands. But after the race was about 100 laps in, we could wander anywhere and watch from the upper sections - which we did. Richard was driving a '79 Monte Carlo, took the lead early, and blistered the field again. I was lucky. I was convinced the sun rose and set over Level Cross, and I got to see Richard in his prime. Good times!
Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
The comments from rookie Joe Millikan were interesting. Millikan grew up in Randleman, NC and worked in the shop for Petty Enterprises for several years. In the mid to late 70s, Petty Enterprises fielded an #04 STP Dodge Charger for Millikan in Late Model Sportsman races at Daytona and Talladega.

Joe won a couple of those events, and his performance in the Petty-built Dodges helped tee him up for a Cup rookie-of-the-year run with L.G. DeWitt. As it turns out, however, Millikan had the bad fortune to be a Cup rookie in the same season as a a guy named Dale Earnhardt.

Petty left Rockingham leading in the championship battle by eight points over Waltrip. Richard was almost 230 points behind Waltrip two months earlier.

Photo courtesy of Jerry Bushmire

Edited October 21, 2014

Thursday, October 20, 2011

October 20 - This day in Petty history

1963 - Richard Petty collects his 27th career victory by winning the caution-free South Boston 400 at South Boston Speedway in car #41. Teammate Bob Welborn finishes 4th in a #42 Petty Enterprises Plymouth.

Jack Smith of Spartanburg, SC won the pole in his self-owned Plymouth. G.C. Spencer from Owensboro, KY and later Jonesboro, TN qualified second in a second Plymouth owned by Smith. Race favorite Junior Johnson lined up third in Ray Fox's Chevrolet, and he was flanked in fourth by Petty.

Source: Gazette Virginian, October 22, 1963
At the drop of the green, a broken oil line ruined Smith's day before it really even began. The field accelerated, but Smith's car simply wouldn't go - even with a push from 3rd place starter Johnson. Petty spun in Smith's oil and recovered, but no caution was thrown.

Source: Gazette Virginian, October 22, 1963
Source: Gazette Virginian, October 22, 1963
G.C. led the first 8 laps before surrendering the lead to Billy Wade in Cotton Owens' Dodge. Wade held serve for 4 laps before Johnson got around him and settled into a long stretch on point. Meanwhile, Petty resumed his pursuit of the leaders after his spin and half-lap deficit. By lap 30, the blue 43 had made it all the way back to second.

On lap 113, Petty eased under Johnson's Chevy to take the lead - a lead he wouldn't surrender the rest of the day.

Source: Gazette Virginian, October 24, 1963
As he built a comfortable one-lap lead on second place running Johnson, the Petty Engineering crew then had to do their job well to ensure Richard stayed up front. The 41 pitted once during the race, and the crew nailed the stop.

Source: Gazette Virginian, October 22, 1963
 About half-way through the 400-lap race, Johnson hit the pits for what was thought to be a routine stop. Instead, his crew realized he was absolutely spent and could not continue. The team parked the car, and Johnson was done for the day. At many tracks, other drivers were often called upon to relieve a fatigued driver. Apparently none were available that day at South Boston.

With his most formidable challenger sidelined from exhaustion, Petty cruised unchallenged the second half of the race. He took the checkers three laps ahead of second place finisher David Pearson. Joe Weatherly, who was battling Petty for the 1963 GN championship, finished 3rd. Petty's teammate Welborn earned the team double chicken-money with his fourth place finish.

Source: Gazette Virginian, October 24, 1963
Source: Gazette Virginian, October 22, 1963
Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
Edited October 18, 2014

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Schaefer Schummer of 2011...the schequel

In late July, I blogged how Schaefer Hall of Famers and Ring of Honor members were enjoying their 2011 Schaefer Schummer. Of course, summer isn't over in July. It runs through at least Labor Day - and for some folks, beyond! So here are a few more ways members of the SHOF and SROH enjoyed the remainder of their 2011 Schaefer Schummer.

Bill Combs is the great-grandson of Rudolph Schaefer Jr. He writes The Schaefer Story blog and can be followed on Twitter @schaeferstory. He represented the Schaefer Ring of Honor well with colors and brew in August at the Good Sam 500 Cup race at Pocono Raceway. Bill was brought into the Schaefer Ring of Honor about a year ago, but this entry is his first photo contribution. Schaaaaa-LOOT Mr. Schaefer Descendent!

He cemented his membership in the SROH by getting a meet-and-greet with Brandon Igdalsky just two days after Igdalsky was named the new President of Pocono!

Speaking of racing (and when am I not), how about this cool fictional scheme for the 43 of Richard Petty Motorsports? Designed by stimlad - a fellow poster at the Fans For Richard Petty Motorsports message board - I'd really like to see that happen. Look - I get it. Schaefer's market share is pretty doggone thin these days. But have you seen some of the other sponsors in NASCAR these days? Surely, the market potential for Schaefer is greater than some of them.

SROH members Kristi and Ryan earn bonus points for being a photogenic Schaefer Ring of Honor couple. They earn significant demerits, however, for toting Bud Stinkin' Light while wearing the SROH colors. As Gomer Pyle so eloquently put it: Shame, shame, shame.

Recent SROH inductee Rick earns high marks for getting a photo-op with Miss Sprint Cup. But as with Kristi and Ryan, he demonstrated why he'll likely never earn SHOF status. He had neither a Schaefer beer OR his SROH shirt in his photo. T'sk, t'sk.

As an example to the young'uns, SHOFer Uncle Dave brings it strong. He enjoys time toying with his '55 Chevy, appreciating old school Winston Cup signage, and sharing Schaefer with friend. THAT's the way to do it.

Uncle Dave also managed to score an ancient Schaefer keg bar light for the best price of all ... free. It didn't work well so he re-wired the thing, and now it works as good as new old-school.

If you've read this blog much at all, you know when Schaefer schelebrations are featured that SROH member Bruton will be right in the middle of one of them.

The following photo is perhaps the most enviable one of this post.

Bruton was prepared to write an emergency note of "Send more Schaefer...PLEASE!", stuff it in the can, and toss it to the surf. But he realized (1) the letter would get wet and (2) the can had 3 remaining ounces in it that couldn't be wasted.

One interesting discovery Bruton made this summer was to discover the fossilized remains of the frequently-sought but rarely-found Schaefersaurus.

SHOFer co-founder and executive committee voting member, Philly, enjoyed his schummer Schaefer with a Carolina classic - low country boil. You can never have enough of either.

SROH member 200WINZ delivered his own Schaefer meal - steak, potato, and Caesar salad. What completes this? The styrofoam bowls and Dixie plate - no doubt.

While in Richmond for the September Cup race, 200WINZ met someone who is arguably the most famous celebrity in American pop culture today - Windell Middlebrooks from the Miller High Life commercials.

Windell schills for Miller - not Schaefer - but that's OK. MillerCoors brews Schaefer along with all other beers owned by Pabst Brewing. And in a spirit of transparency, SHOF members also acknowledge each member will willingly quaff the champagne of beers when Schaefer is not available. Finally, I'm willing to bet Windell is the kind of guy who would in return enjoy a cold Schaefer with you if the cameras were away.

The 2011 Schaefer Schummer is now over. But that simply means its time to submit those pictures and stories of your enjoying Schaefer this fall and throughout the holidays.