Monday, June 25, 2012

June 25 - This day in Petty history

First of all, Happy Birthday to the apple of my eye - my daughter, "toomuchculture".

1972 - Richard Petty wins the pole, leads a dominating 186 of 250 laps, endures a brutally hot Texas afternoon,  and wins the Lone Star 500 at Texas World Speedway in College Station, Texas for his 145th career NASCAR Winston Cup victory.

The King's Texas win was his career first in a Dodge. His previous 144 victories over the last 14 years had been in Plymouths (135) and Fords (nine wins in 1969). A couple of races before Texas, Petty Enterprises began a transition to Dodges for the 43, and Petty notched a victory shortly after the change.

Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers
A couple of other memorable points from the race:
  • Racing legend, A.J. Foyt, was the pace car driver for the race.
  • Columbia TN's CooCoo Marlin earned a career best at the time with a third place finish. He later matched it with a pair of additional thirds at Nashville Speedway in 1973 and 1975.
  • Clarence Lovell, made 16 career Winston Cup starts in 1972-73. He earned a career best 4th place finish at Talladega in the 1973 Winston 500 but was killed in a highway accident a few days later. In 1972, his primary sponsor (and the race's title sponsor) was Lone Star Beer. Today, Lone Star (web | Twitter) is alive and well and widely available in Texas and other selected locations in the US. The label is owned by Pabst Brewing which makes the brew a Texas cousin of Bench Racing's preferred beer, Schaefer.
Courtesy of Charles Lovell, Clarence's brother
As noted in the following article, independent driver Richard Childress slipped in oil from driver Doc Faustina's blown engine. After spinning, Childress flipped and landed in a ditch. Yes, it was THAT Richard Childress - who later found greater fame and fortune as the car owner for Dale Earnhardt.

Faustina's involvement, however, may have some Petty-related trivia attached to it. In my recent blog about our visit to Petty's Garage, I included photos of sheet metal from a #28 Dodge Charger late model. The body had been removed as part of the restoration of the 1970 Pete Hamilton Superbird built by Petty Enterprises. The chronology of the car's history included in a Mopar Muscle magazine article goes something like this:
  • Hamilton won with the Superbird in February 1970.
  • The car was re-skinned as a Plymouth Road Runner and taken to Riverside in January 1971.
  • Driver Doc Faustina expressed an interest in the car and then bought it.
  • The car was repainted and numbered #5.
  • Faustina re-skinned the car as a Dodge Charger for the 1973 season.
  • The Dodge was later sold to a west coast last model racer who re-painted it and numbered it as #28.
Faustina only raced 10 times in his career as a driver from 1971 to 1976. However, he also fielded a Plymouth and Dodge for other drivers from 1971-1976 including Richard Childress, Harry Gant, Wendell Scott, and James Hylton.

Its highly likely, therefore, that the engine that blew in Faustina's car at Texas was a Maurice Petty-built hemi in the Petty Enterprises-built Plymouth originally raced as a Superbird by Pete Hamilton to his win in the 1970 Daytona 500. (As I also learned from really knowledgeable folks at Randy Ayers Modeling Forum, Wendell Scott made his final career start in the 1973 National 500 at Charlotte driving ... a #5 Doc Faustina Dodge. This likely means he too piloted what was once the Petty-built Plymouth.)

Care to listen to the radio broadcast of the entire race? MRN's coverage of the 1972 Lone Star 500 featuring Ken Squier, Marvin Panch, and Barney Hall is available at ... or click below to listen.

Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
Edited June 24, 2014

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