Thursday, May 31, 2012

May 31 - This day in Petty history

1968 - Richard Petty wins the pole with a new track record, leads all 300 laps, laps the field and dominates for his 79th career win in the Asheville 300 at New Asheville Speedway in North Carolina.

While Petty's domination of the race may have resulted in a boring day for some, it hardly ended that way for others. As referenced in the article below, a couple of teams had a mid-race scrap as The King drove on to collect his trophy, check, and victory kisses.

Greg Fielden describes in Forty Years of Stock Racing - Volume 3:
As [David] Pearson was lapping Stan Meserve for the third time, the two cars tangled, sending Pearson into the wall. Meserve spun into the infield. Angry words were exchanged between Pearson and Meserve. The "jaw" session seemed to die down when apparently a member of Meserve's pit crew ran onto the track and hit Pearson from behind. The pits emptied and several fist-swinging incidents broke out. "I turned around saw everybody swinging." said NASCAR Field Manager Johnny Bruner. ~ p. 181
I get the feeling Bruner wasn't referring to this kind of swinging.


Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
TMC

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May 29 - This day in Petty history

1977 - Starting outside of the front row, Richard Petty dominates the World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He leads 311 of 400 laps to score his 183rd career victory and his second World 600 in three seasons.

As expected, David Pearson won the pole for the race. From 1972 through 1978, the Silver Fox won the pole for 12 out of 14 races. (For the other two events - one in '72 and the other in '73 - he qualified a *disappointing second.)

With Pearson's winning the pole and the King dominating the race, it would seem the 600 weekend was somewhat ho-hum. However, the OH-NO! moment was provided by others during practice before qualifying. Bruce Jacobi clipped Rick Newsome coming out of turn four. Jacobi's car flipped multiple times before catching fire. Fortunately, both drivers escaped serious injuries.

Sadly, the wreck was perhaps somewhat of a foreshadowing of what both drivers would face later. Newsome perished in a private airplane accident in 1988 - eleven years after his Charlotte accident. Jacobi died in 1987 - four years after slipping into a coma following a vicious crash in his 125-mile qualifying race for the 1983 Daytona 500. (Video and pics of Bruce's wreck are on the web. After waffling back and forth, I've chosen not to include a direct link to them here.)

I still have the September 1977 issue of Stock Car Racing magazine in my collection. The cover has separated from the staples. Otherwise, the mag is still in great shape. The issue included three in-depth features on the King - and some fantastic color photography: an excerpt from a Bill Libby book about Richard's win in the 1975 World 600, Petty's win in the June 1977 Riverside road courses and the 1977 World 600 win.

A great shot that this scan doesn't do justice was a two-page spread of The King racing Pearson in the #21 Wood Brothers Mercury.

Interestingly, the cover of the Petty-rich issue featured his long-time rival Bobby Allison and his red-white-blue AMC Matador. Below is a PDF of the article about this race.

In victory lane, the King was greeted by Senator John Warner and his wife, actress Elizabeth Taylor. And yes, that's Bruton Smith in the powder-blue blazer standing to the left of Petty's wife, Lynda and their daughter, Rebecca.

Petty's 1977 World 600 trophy was one of many I was fortunate to spot during my visit to the Richard Petty Museum in 2011.



TMC

Friday, May 25, 2012

May 25 - This day in Petty history

Greetings from North Carolina! I started my long weekend Thursday by arriving in Charlotte to watch qualifying for the Coca-Cola 600. This morning, I'll be en route to hallowed ground: Level Cross, NC. We plan to visit Petty's Garage in Level Cross, the Richard Petty Museum in Randleman, and .... well, who knows what else may unfold.

1975 - Starting third, Richard Petty leads 234 of 400 laps and finally wins the World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway to claim his 170th career NASCAR Winston Cup win.

Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers
Schaefer Ring of Honor member GaPettyFan remembers:
The race was still held on Monday (Memorial Day) at that time. They (Humpy Wheeler I presume) awarded prize money to the driver who led the most laps in each 50 lap segment of the race. The King started third and led 234 laps, grabbing segment after segment. We were sitting near some Pearson fans, and they were giving Richard hell all day. I was dying inside, afraid he was gonna torch the motor leading so many laps. It was a long ride home back to Georgia that night but, man, what a great one.
From the time Charlotte opened in 1960, Petty Enterprises had reaped its share of success at the track. Lee Petty, Richard Petty and Bobby Johns in a third Petty Plymouth started the inaugural World 600. Richard won a World 600 qualifying race in 1961 that was counted by NASCAR as an official win. Other wins by Petty Enterprises cars included the 1964 World 600 (Jim Paschal), 1966 World 600 (Marvin Panch) and the 1972 World 600 (Buddy Baker). Richard, however, somehow could not break through for his own win in the World 600 or National 500. Finally in 1975, the King finally nabbed his first major win at Charlotte in his STP Dodge Charger.

Schaefer Hall of Fame co-founder and charter member, Philly, has these memories:
I can vividly remember the 1975 World 600 as I was there! I had been a Richard Petty fan since 1971 first seeing the Petty Blue at Martinsville - and that was my car forever. By 1975, I had been to several races at Martinsville, North Wilkesboro, Bristol, Darlington, Charlotte and Rockingham. I was 11 years old and had never seen the King win. He ran away with the race in 1975 and led over 200 laps. I remember sitting on the edge of my seat watching his car every lap hoping nothing would break or he would wreck. I knew he could win. At the end of the race, he was nearly a lap ahead of the field. I remember Cale came in second in the Holly Farms car. David Pearson and Darrell Waltrip ran 3rd and 4th. Not sure which was which. I think Buddy Baker was in the hunt for a top 5. I also remember a Petty blue Dodge that had yellow stripes and the number 8 on it. I didn't know it then as kid but figured it out years later. I was also at Dale Earnhardt's first Grand National race.
Speaking of first-timers at Charlotte and in a Dodge - and as referenced by Philly, another future 7-time Cup champion, Dale Earnhardt, made his first career Winston Cup start. He finished 22nd in a Dodge owned by Ed Negre.

Courtesy of composerp of Randy Ayers Modeling Forum
For about 10 years, journeyman and underfunded driver Joe Frasson made a handful of starts. He lacked in key statistical categories such as wins, laps led, and top finishes. But he more than offset those deficits with his sense of humor. After not making the field for the 1975 World 600 in his Pontiac, he retired the body style by publicly beating the snot out of it with a jack handle.

Frasson most often raced Plymouths and Dodges during his abbreviated career. But in 1975, he raced a Pontiac at Talladega (shown below) and hoped to do so again at Charlotte. I wish someone had a video clip of what had to be a gut-busting, funny scene when Joe announced the Pontiac's retirement.

Joe's hood after he finished making his statement...


As for the race, Bumpertag, a fellow member at RacersReunion.com remembers:
I've been a Richard Petty fan since 1972 and started going to races in 1973. It wasn't until the 1975 World 600 at Charlotte that I witnessed The King win. It was special because Petty had not won at Charlotte before. My uncle hated Richard Petty because he was the biggest menace to his guy, David Pearson. He had told me many times during our weekend racing debates that if Petty ever won at Charlotte he would never go back. After the World 600 and later that year the National 500, both of which Petty won in 1975, my uncle never went to another race at Charlotte.



Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
In 1977, Bill Libby published a book titled simply King Richard. A chapter of the book focusing on Petty's win in the 1975 World 600 was excerpted in the September 1977 issue of Stock Car Racing magazine. I didn't keep all of my SCRs - but I definitely do still have that issue.
1975 World 600 SCR

TMC

Monday, May 21, 2012

May 21 - This day in Petty history - part 2

1971 - Richard Petty gets win number 128 by scoring the pole, leading 252 of 300 laps, and winning the Asheville 300 at at New Asheville Speedway in North Carolina.

The race was pretty much a cakewalk for Petty. Only 17 drivers started, and no other big-name drivers started. Petty plus sixteen independent or also-ran drivers arrived in Asheville. George Ledford - the track's promoter - paid Petty an appearance fee. This arrangement was common for many years in an effort to secure a driver's appearance to then help sell tickets.

Many of the independents also wanted a bit of 'show money' to help fill the field; however, Ledford refused and said Petty was the only name he needed. In protest, James Hylton started the race but parked his car on the first lap. Many others followed suit in the next few laps. When the checkers fell, only five cars were on the track.

In Greg Fielden's Forty Years of Stock Car Racing - Volume 3, he quoted Petty's forecast for NASCAR's future:
I think Grand National racing will work itself out of short track racing into nothing but a large track circuit. I think for it to be what it started out to be - the very best in racing - then NASCAR is going to have to work up a circuit with 25 races or something like that. ~ p. 341
Petty was spot-on with his prediction - and New Asheville Speedway was one of the casualties of his forecast. After a run of eight Grand National events between 1962 and 1971, Petty's win in 1971 turned out to be the final GN race at the track.

Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
TMC

May 21 - This day in Petty history - part 1

1961 - Richard Petty wins a 100-mile qualifying race for the World 600. Ralph Earnhardt finishes second.

1961 was the only year the twin qualifying races were used to set the lineup for the 600. As with the qualifying races used for Daytona 500 from 1959 through the early 1970s, the 1961 Charlotte qualifiers counted as regular wins. Petty's victory was his fifth career and first superspeedway win.

Source: Motor Race Programme Covers
Petty's win in the qualifying race put him on the pole for the main event, the World 600. The 43 puked a motor and finished 30th. It was the second dismal 600 in a row for Petty. He, his father Lee, and a few other drivers were disqualified by NASCAR in the inaugural World 600 one year earlier, and Richard was credited with a 42nd place finish in that event.

Photo and article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
TMC

Sunday, May 20, 2012

May 20 - This day in Petty history - part 2

1984 - Starting 5th, Richard Petty wins his 199th career NASCAR Winston Cup race in the Budweiser 500 at Dover.

Through the mid 90s, Dover's races were 500 miles vs. the 400 miles the teams race today. Those extra 100 laps really tested the durability of both car and driver. Richard's son, Kyle, won his eighth and final career Cup race in a 500-miler at Dover in 1995. He was completely exhausted and had to be given oxygen before getting his trophy and giving his interviews.



The 1984 win left Petty one shy of the milestone 200-victory mark. However, the victory was his first one with Curb Motorsports. With the financial challenges of Petty Enterprises fielding a second team for Kyle Petty in the early 1980s and an embarrassing penalty at Charlotte in 1983, the King made the tough choice to drive for another team. After considering offers from Rahmoc, Harry Ranier, and even newcomer Rick Hendrick, Richard settled on Mike Curb's race team - a start-up. Using equipment brought over from Petty Enterprises and engines purchased from DiGard, Richard continued racing his famed 43 / STP Pontiacs. Despite a lot of pre-season promise, the team had a tough time finding success - until Dover.

National Speed Sport News cover courtesy of Russ Thompson
Fellow long-time Petty fan (and Schaefer Ring of Honor) member, Brian '200WINZ' Hauck, was fortunate enough to be at Dover the day of Petty's win - much like he'd done since the track opened in 1969.

Some time later, he was able to visit Curb Motorsports' shops and get a photo of the banners for the last of Richard's 200 career wins.

Photo courtesy of Ray Lamm
If you are like me and were not able to be at the race - or even watch it on TV back then - you're in luck. The race can be watched in this 7-part series available on YouTube. Note the youthful Mike Joy as the lead on the broadcast. Joy is now the anchor for FOX Sports' NASCAR coverage. With Joy is Phil Parsons. After a journeyman-type career in Cup and Busch/Nationwide, Phil is now in the broadcast booth for Speed Channel's coverage of the Camping World Truck Series.

Links to YouTube segments:

1984 Budweiser 500 - part 1
1984 Budweiser 500 - part 2
1984 Budweiser 500 - part 3
1984 Budweiser 500 - part 4
1984 Budweiser 500 - part 5
1984 Budweiser 500 - part 6
1984 Budweiser 500 - part 7

GNS cover courtesy of Jerry Bushmire


TMC

May 20 - This day in Petty history - part 1

1967 - Richard Petty wins the pole, leads 223 of 250 laps, defends his race win from 1966, and notches his 56th career victory in the Tidewater 250 at Langley Field Speedway in Hampton, VA.

Petty's win was his eighth win of the 1967 season (on his way to a 27-win season) and his sixth of his last nine starts. In a quirk of the points system design of that era, however, Petty still trailed James Hylton in the points championship standings at that point of the season.

Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
TMC

Saturday, May 19, 2012

20th Anniversary Schaefer Schelebration

Thursday, I leave for what has become somewhat of a rite of spring - the gathering of the motley crew known collectively to many as the Schaefer Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor. We will be spending the weekend on the premises of the Charlotte Motor Speedway for events and races surrounding the Coca-Cola 600. Once we park our vehicles, raise our canopies, unload our beer, set up the cornhole boards and otherwise occupy our space, the track shall then be known to us as Scharlotte.


This year's gathering will have special significance because it represents the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the Schaefer beer and NASCAR racing tradition. As explained in more detail here and here, current SHOF executive committee members Philly and TMC co-founded the Schaefer tradition at the 1992 Winston 500 at Talladega. Over the next two decades, the tradition has grown to encompass five additional SHOF members, approximately a case of SROH members, and dozens of other Schaefer friends and acquaintances with whom we've schared the Schaefer experience along the way.

A commemorative logo has been designed to recognize the special occasion. T-shirts, koozies, seat cushions, and henna tattoos of the logo aren't yet available. However, please feel free to slip a Jackson or send PayPal funds to any of the SHOFers, and that individual will get back in touch with you just as soon as possible if ... I mean, when such items become available.

Pre-schelebration events actually begin a week before the Coca-Cola 600. SHOFers Philly, Rookie and Rev. Randy as well as some SROH members and other distinguished guests are taking in the NASCAR truck and Sprint Cup All Star race. The remaining contingent will begin rolling in later the following week.

A preliminary schedule should looking something like this...

Thursday - For the first time, TMC plans to drive to Charlotte on Thursday vs. Friday. Doing so will allow me to attend the Cup qualifying session. SHOF Philly has hinted we may have a quality vantage point from which to view the single-car speed runs. If his plan comes to fruition, your best bet is to follow my WHOO! of excitement on my Twitter timeline.


Friday - The tradition for me the last few years has been to drive all day to Charlotte and arrive just in time to down a single Schaefer and then head straight to The Dirt Track for World of Outlaws sprints and late models. The last 2 or 3 years, however, gave us rain vs. racin' on Friday night. To change my luck, I'm mixing up my plans this year. Because I'm arriving on Thursday, we plan to make a day trip to Randleman, NC to visit the Richard Petty Museum. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip there about a year ago - and really want to return to examine some of the items I most certainly overlooked during my first visit.

Saturday - The weekend days are when things really start to get cooking. While its pointless to plan things to a T and much more enjoyable to just let the fun unfold, a few events are simply a given as more folks roll in such as...
  • Induction of new Schaefer Ring of Honor members - including a presentation of their collector's item t-shirt
  • A kickstarter with a Schaefer amongst friends to get things rolling...
 
  • Firing up the grill to get some brats, burgers and wings smokin'
 
  • And a mid-day diversion to attend a race - the Nationwide History Channel 300

Sunday - The big day. 600 miles of racing. Food continually on the grill. Music blaring. Dozens of participants enjoying the goodness that is Schaefer. Enjoying the niceties of tailgating by arriving early - while watching the road rookies sit helplessly in traffic nearby. Undoubtedly, the day will include:
  • The third annual Schaefer Racing Cornhole Tournament. Can last year's winners, probationary and possible future SHOF entrant Wilbur and his partner Carla, repeat? Will the inaugural year's champs, SHOFer Cuba and partner Angry Karen, return after a year's absence? Or will a new tandem rise to grab the coveted trophy?

  • The Charlotte crowd is unquestionably a group of NASCAR devotees. Yet, the pageantry and tradition of the Indianapolis 500 cannot be ignored. A TV will be around to air it and follow the drama that is sure to unfold as is done virtually every year.

  • As late afternoon arrives, we'll make our way to the track for the marathon race - the five-hour Coca-Cola 600. This year's race will mark my ninth 600 trip and my eleventh trip to Charlotte races overall.

To quote famed singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen, the road goes on forever and the party never ends. Here is a look back at several of the good times we've had in recent years schelebrating with Schaefer.




TMC

Friday, May 18, 2012

May 18 - This day in Petty history

1963 - Richard Petty earns his 21st career victory by winning a 300-lap race from the pole at Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas, Virginia.

Driving #41, Petty cruised to a 1-lap win over second place finisher Ned Jarrett. Teammate Jim Paschal finished 3rd in a #43 Petty Plymouth. The King's win was the seventh for Petty Enterprises drivers in the last eight races (5 by Richard and 2 by Jim Paschal).

Old Dominion Speedway hosted seven Grand National races between 1958 and 1969. NASCAR Hall of Fame drivers Petty, Jarrett, and Junior Johnson won five of them. Their wins were book-ended by Frankie Schneider in 1958 and Elmo Langley in 1966. Elmo's win was the second of only two career wins for the independent racer. For much of the 1990s, Elmo was better known by NASCAR fans as the pace car driver.

Photo and article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire

TMC

Thursday, May 17, 2012

May 17 - This day in Petty history

1964 - Starting 7th in an 18-car field, Richard Petty leads 181 of 267 laps - including the final 119 - and wins a 100-mile race at South Boston Speedway in Virginia.

Source: Gazette Virginian, May 14, 1964 
The win didn't come without some challenges for Petty - and for the other drivers as well. The race was the third in three consecutive days. Ned Jarrett won the Tidewater 250 in Hampton, Virginia on Friday night. The next day Jarrett won again in the Hickory 250 in North Carolina. The teams then had to hump it back to Virginia to drive in South Boston on Sunday afternoon.

Furthermore, Petty blew the engine in his 1964 Plymouth in practice - perhaps because of the wear and tear of the previous two days. Rather than change an engine, the team rolled a year-old '63 Plymouth off the truck to race instead.

Petty's win on the .375 paved oval was his 30th career victory. The victory was his third in a row at South Boston - a streak he stretched to four in 1968 when the NASCAR Grand National cars returned after a 4-year absence. Pole-winner Marvin Panch in the Wood Brothers Ford finished second and was the only other car on the lead lap with Petty.

In his book Forty Years of Stock Car Racing: Volume 2, Greg Fielden writes:
Petty credited tires with the difference in winning and losing. Lee Petty had brought a number of tires designed for the Atlanta International Raceway and decided to give them a tryout on the .375-mile paved track in South Boston. "I just figured they would be about right for this track," said Papa Lee. "Nobody else here had any like them -- not even the tire company people." ~ p. 260
Source: Gazette Virginian, May 19, 1964 
Source: Gazette Virginian, May 19, 1964 
TMC
Edited May 17, 2015

Monday, May 14, 2012

Tribute fail

I'm glad Cale got into the most recent HOF class--he was a tough guy, a great driver, and part of an important bridge for the sport from "old school" to "new school."  Plus he was sponsored by two of my all-time favorite consumables:  Busch and Hardee's. Not to deflect from any other beverages which are showcased here on this blog, but the 11 team ran a "tribute" scheme at Darlington Saturday night (punctuation intentional).

Mike Joy did his best to fulfill his obligations and read his cue card with something like this: the 11 team is running a tribute to Cale Yarborough tonight, except, well, it's red instead of blue and white numbers instead of gold, but it does have a stripe down the side.  The trained eye might even see mountains on the red hood. The trained mind might even envision a barber chair atop the mountains.

Cale we're glad you're getting the attention you deserve, in spite of cross-threading Nascar's bolt. I just wish the "tribute" could have been more appropriate.