- I went to my first Daytona 500 in February 1980 and saw Buddy Baker win his only 500 in Harry Ranier's #28 "Grey Ghost" Oldsmobile 442.
- My first trip to Disneyworld was in May 1980 - at the expense of missing King Richard win the Music City 420.
- In December 1980, a surgeon performed full-blown knee surgery on me. If only arthroscopic techniques had been more widely available back then, perhaps I wouldn't be hobbling around today like Festus from Gunsmoke.
- Our high school annual featured a candid of me wearing of course....
And then Pocono..
On lap 57, a wheel broke on Petty's #43 Monte Carlo, the back end came around, and he backed it into the boiler plate wall - HARD. The hit was in the era long before SAFER barriers or H.A.N.S. devices were even visioned much less designed and installed.
The safety crews extricated the King from the car. But they didn't backboard him or put any sort of neck brace on him. They simply walked him to the ambulance as he grimaced in pain.
Officially, Richard suffered a 'strained neck' and pulled back muscles. The Petty team said it, Joe Mattioli from Pocono repeated it, and the media reported it.
|Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire|
driven by Al Loquasto one year later in 1981 at Pocono.)
Schaefer Hall of Famer Rev. Randy recently sent me some great photos from the 1980 race given to him and shot by co-worker Jim Jandrasits.
Jim was able to snap a photo of what would be another relevant story line to the race - the final Winston Cup start for Janet Guthrie.While not the first female race driver in NASCAR, she did break some barriers by racing with some amount of relative success - both in Indy cars and in NASCAR - as both racing series gained more popularity across the country. Guthrie started 33 Cup races from 1976 through 1980, and the 1980 Pocono event was her final one.
|Source: Wood Brothers Racing|
Richard - The reality of Richard's injures weren't revealed until much, much later. Richard had indeed suffered a fracture in his neck. Incredibly and stubbornly, he soldiered on and did not miss a start. Had NASCAR known this - or had the information been leaked, its likely their hand would have been forced to sit Richard until doctors cleared him to race. Early in the next three races at Talladega, Michigan and Bristol, he turned the car over to former Petty crewman and driver, Joe Millikan.
Credit: Action Sports Photography - Source: Motorsport.com
Earnhardt - With Richard's championship hopes all but gone, it was up to the veteran Yarborough and the Junior Johnson team to snag their fourth championship. The Rod Osterland-owned team with Jake Elder as the crew chief and Earnhardt as the driver, however, may have bent but didn't break. The team withstood a strong challenge by the Yarborough team, but in the end Earnhardt earned the first of his seven Cup championships.
Richmond - After racing a part-time schedule by hopping rides with multiple car owners in 1981 and 1982, Tim finally landed with car owner Raymond Beadle and his Old Milwaukee Beer sponsored Pontiac team in 1983. After a moderately successful three year run with the Blue Max team, Tim moved to Hendrick Motorsports in 1986. He and crew chief Harry Hyde caught lightning in a bottle about a third of the way through the season. With seven wins to their credit but without the Cup, the 25 team was among the favorites heading into the 1987 season. But as Richmond's undisclosed illness began to take over, he all but faded away. Tim made an abbreviated but remarkable comeback midway through 1987 by winning back-to-back races at Riverside and Pocono. After that, however, he wasn't super-competitive and raced for the final time late in mid-August 1987.
Edited July 27, 2014