Friday, December 28, 2012

Learning My New Job

When I was asked to join the team at TMC, Inc. I was flattered. My new boss (THE TMC himself!) painted a rosy picture of fame, fortune, women and, of course, complimentary Schaefer. By all accounts, my dream job. As usual, there was more to the story.

In the last few days I've learned that I have to provide my own equipment, learn to use all kinds of websites and other technical stuff AND I have deadlines. I knew I should have gotten some of this stuff in writing.

To further complicate things, I own no computer equipment and I have neither the computer abilities required for this nor the desire to learn them. Basically, I was in this for the free beer.

Still, when you're the new kid on the block you want to make a good impression so today I hauled myself down to the bank to apply for a loan to buy a computer. I tried store financing but got laughed out when I was asked what kind of system I wanted. For the record, "That black one looks cool" is not the educated kind of answer they are looking for.

Somehow, my banker (normally an ill tempered sort with a superiority complex) fell for my pitch and wrote me a check on the spot! I think he fell for the same lie I did: Free beer. It gets guys like us all the time.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bench Racing's 4th Anniversary

December 19, 2008 - four years ago - the inaugural post of this blog was published. Remarkable. While banktruck and I thought a forum was needed to open our thoughts about racing to others, we really had no plan or concept as to how to proceed with it.

BT: We spend all this time dissecting the race. I wonder if anyone else would even read the stuff we trade back and forth.
TMC: What if we set-up a blog. You know, just to post on the web all the crap we trade back and forth by e-mail.
BT: Who knows. Set it up and let's see what happens.

So I did. And here we are four years later.

Though we still haven't settled on a specific direction of this blog, I'm proud of a couple of accomplishments over the last year.
  • With incredible assistance by Jerry Bushmire and contributions by many others, I was able to post a blog entry for each of Richard Petty's 200 wins (well, a couple of them slipped through my fingers). Spending a ton of time that probably should have been directed elsewhere, I really wanted to do a bang-up job on the posts. Many folks were kind with their feedback, and I'm happy with the results.
  • As silly as it may seem to all but a core of us, we hit it out of the park for the 20th Anniversary of the Schaefer Hall of Fame. The Schaefer tradition started as a Talladega bender between two of us in 1992. Twenty years later, many new friendships have formed, creativity has abounded, and I've used this forum to document as best I can the adventures of the Schaefer good-time-havers. Thanks to the members of the Schaefer Ring of Honor and my fellow Schaefer Hall of Famers: Philly, Paducah, Rookie, Uncle Dave, Cuba, Rev. Randy, Kuzzin Kari and Bruton for the continuing good times.
As year five begins and 2013 looms, a couple of goals loom.
  • An index page for The King's 200 Wins posts will be developed. The page will provide a hyperlink to each of the posts. As I hope the entries will be available for a long time to come, the index should make it easier for readers to quickly jump to a win of their choice. Its long overdue, and I need to get it up and running before the new NASCAR season begins.
  • I want to start a new series about wins by other drivers who raced for Petty Enterprises. King Richard obviously had the most wins for the family-owned business. But other drivers such as Lee Petty, Jim Paschal, Buddy Baker, Pete Hamilton, Bobby Hamilton and John Andretti won for PE as well, and I want to blog about them. Getting info for Lee's 1950s-era wins will definitely be the biggest challenge for that effort.
  • Lastly, I'd like to post content more regularly and with differing perspectives. As such, a new crew chief has been enlisted to contribute when and what he can: SHOFer, Bruton! In other corners of the interwebs, most know him as GaPettyFan. 
As you'd expect based on his nickname, he is a life-long Petty fan. He is a regular at the Atlanta and Daytona races and has attended dozens of races at other tracks. He also has a blogging past having written for other sites. And he has a gifted talent as a model builder. GPF built what may be the only models of the D.K. Ulrich-owned, Al Loquasto-driven, Schaefer beer-sponsored Buick from 1981. Welcome aboard Bruton!

So with Christmas quickly approaching, toomuchcountry, banktruck ... and now GaPettyFan wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy Schaefer-filled Holiday Season.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Petty's Final Plymouth Race ... is a win for Allison

December 10th - And that can only mean one thing. Its Schaefer Hall of Famer Paduch's birthday!

SHOFers Bruton (L) and Paduch (R) with syndicated NASCAR beat writer, Monte Dutton
As was the case with Rev. Randy's birthday, our team couldn't determine any significant race ever held on December 10th. So we'll roll back a couple of days to December 8 to revisit a race that is at least in the ballpark of Paduch's annual 29th birthday: the 1968 Alabama 200 at Montgomery Speedway. The race was the second of the 1969 season and the last of six NASCAR Grand National races at Montgomery. (The 1969 season was the last one for NASCAR to open its Grand National / Cup season in the fall of the previous calendar year.)

The race was originally scheduled for November 24, 1968 - a week after Petty's win in the 1969 season-opener at Middle Georgia Raceway near Macon, Ga. But after back-to-back Sunday rainouts, the race was re-scheduled for what turned out to be a cold day on December 8.

Credit: Spartanburg Herald via Google News Archive
Richard Petty, dominated much of the 200-lap, 100-mile race. Bobby Isaac led a couple of segments for a total of 50 laps, but King Richard always returned to the point.

In his book, Forty Years of Stock Car Racing - Vol. 3, Greg Fielden recaps:
Bobby Allison, hopelessly out of the running with just nine laps to go, took advantage of a timely caution and nabbed Richard Petty at the finish line for victory ... The slim crowd of 2,800, braving a bitter, icy wind, watched stock car racing history as both Allison and Petty were taking their last rides in Plymouths ... Petty had taken first place from Allison in the 168th lap and was pulling away. On lap 191 of the 200 lapper, Roy Tyner blew the engine in his Pontiac ... Allison ducked in the pits and got two new tires ... Petty opted to take track position and keep the lead ... When the green flag came out with two laps to go, Allison rapidly made up the deficit and was sitting on Petty's rear bumper within a lap. Coming off the final turn, Allison dived (sic) inside of Petty and won by four feet. ~ p. 218
For Petty fans, the narrow loss had to be tough to handle. The race was The King's final start in a Plymouth. His contact with Chrysler Corporation apparently ran through the end of calendar year 1968, so he ran the first two races of the 1969 season in a Mopar. When the calendar page turned to January 1, 1969, Petty became a full-time Blue Oval guy. Well, for one season at least...

Coincidentally, the race was also Allison's final race in a Plymouth. Largely a Chevy guy, Allison raced just about every car brand throughout his career. In late 1968, however, he signed on to drive Tom Friedken's Plymouths. In a limited time as a car owner, Friedken's Plymouths were raced by some great drivers including Jim Paschal (also a former Petty Enterprises driver) and Curtis Turner.

As I understand it, Friedken's #14 cars were generally painted somewhat of a slate-blue such as the one shown here from 1968.

Courtesy of Ray Lamm
From what I've gleaned, however, the colors were changed when Allison joined the team for a handful of races in late '68. While I was unable to find an actual photo from the race, I learned this very nice model build is an indication of how great the car looked.

Credit: Richard Buhr personal build
The paint scheme foreshadowed Allison's future a bit. From 1970 through 1974, Bobby drove a Dodge, Ford, and Chevrolet for different car owners but with common sponsorship by Coca-Cola. The scheme Friedken ran on Bobby's Montgomery-winning Plymouth turned out to be very similar to the one used during the early 70s.

Allison and his family and friends may have had a shocked expression on their face when they turned to the sports page of the Tuscaloosa News, the paper near Hueytown, to see this headline. While the details were accurate, I'm guessing some thought initially Bobby's win had been overturned.
Source: Tuscaloosa News via Google News Archive
All wasn't lost, however, for Petty fans committed to Mopar. After only a single season with Ford, the King returned to Plymouth and its iconic Superbird in 1970. And despite losing its NASCAR GN races in the late 60s, Montgomery Speedway (web and Twitter) continues to operate today with its slate of regular feature races.

NSSN headline and article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
So while thinking of the close finish by Bobby Allison over his rival Richard Petty and the head-shaking resignation by Petty fans that Plymouth was gone and Ford was in,the Schaefer Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor wish fellow Schaefer brutha Paduch ...

Happy Birthday! SCHA-LOOT!!
SHOF Co-Founder, Philly (L) and SHOF entrant #3, Paduch (R)
Edited December 8, 2014

Monday, December 3, 2012

December 3 - A Birthday and Buddy's Bobble

Yes-sirree - December 3rd - it's Schaefer Hall of Famer Rev. Randy's birthday!

Future (at the time) Schaefer HOFers, Bruton (L) and Rev. Randy (R)
The Rev shares a birthday with two legendary racing greats:
  • Rick Mears (1951) - four-time Indianapolis 500 winner
  • Bobby Allison (1937) - 1983 Winston Cup champion and three-time Daytona 500 winner
In addition to his impressive racing résumé, Bobby was also the first driver to win a NASCAR Cup championship with a beer brand as his primary sponsor. His DiGard Buick carried the colors of Miller High Life - the preferred back-up beer for the Schaefer Hall of Fame when Schaefer isn't available - to his one and only Cup championship.

Credit: David Chobat / Source:
This blog's passionate but part-time research staff learned no significant races of interest have ever been run on December 3rd. A few days later on December 7th; however, Texas International Speedway in College Station - any Aggie fan readers? - hosted its inaugural NASCAR event, the 1969 Texas 500. The track was later renamed Texas World Speedway.

Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers
A few trivia nuggets about the race:
  • The race was Richard Petty's final race in a Ford. When NASCAR's Grand National series returned in January 1970 for a new season at Riverside International Raceway, King Richard was back behind the wheel of a traditionally familiar 43 Plymouth - the winged Superbird. Yet, for Petty fans of that era, I understand it was awfully tough during the one season to see The King sport the blue oval.
  • Bobby Isaac won the Texas race - his first major win on a superspeedway other than two Daytona qualifying race wins which counted as official series wins in the 1960s.
  • The aforementioned Bobby Allison lost an engine in his Coca-Cola Dodge and finished 23rd - one spot behind his #22 car number. His brother Donnie, however, finished 2nd two laps down to Isaac.
  • Buddy Baker led over half the race in Cotton Owens' Dodge - but wrecked while while trying to read his pit board as he led the race.
Long-time NASCAR writer and friend of Baker, Tom Higgins - writing at the time for recalled in a 2010 column:
While running at Texas World Speedway, where NASCAR staged seven races at the Cup Series level from 1969-81, Big Buddy once seemed to have Victory Lane awaiting him. But a crash while under caution took him out of contention. He ran into James Hylton on the frontstretch. "We didn't have radio communication between the cars and the pits in those days," recalls Baker. "I momentarily took my eyes off the track to try and read a message the crew was giving me on a big chalk board. Hylton was going a bit slower than me, and I hit him." The chalked message? "You've Got It Made!"

Read more here:
James Hylton's winged Dodge Daytona before he got plowed:

For the other side of the story, Hylton - who soldiered on to finish 4th - remembers:
Buddy Baker ran into me under a caution. Bent the hell out of my car but tore his up completely and he couldn't finish the race.
On a website documenting the history of Cotton Owens, a separate page for Buddy's uh-oh moment recaps this bizarre but funny way to lose a race. An excerpt from it reads:
We find our hero leading the 500 mile Grand National race, which is running under caution. Pit stops have been made, and the cars are lined up behind the pace car leisurely circling the track with Buddy, leading the race but following closely behind James Hylton behind the pace car. Cotton is busy flashing Buddy a pit board every time by. But the message was too big for one pit board so Cotton wrote on two boards and showed both to Buddy at the same time. This was to much for poor Buddy, he had to do a double take ... while leading the race, which was under caution, Buddy Baker CRASHED into the back of James Hylton and busted the radiator in Cotton's wonderful Dodge. Oh, Cotton's message? P1 take it easy.
The site also includes a couple of photos originally published in Motor Trend magazine.

In his book Forty Years of Stock Car Racing - Volume 3, Greg Fielden writes:
Dodge officials were visibly upset when Baker crashed out under the yellow flag. The only race Dodge had won on the big tracks (TMC: in 1969) was a tainted 500-miler at Talladega. Crew chief and car owner Owens slung the pit board like a frisbee as he watched Baker take himself out of the race. ~ p. 263
Future three-time Cup champ and NASCAR Hall of Famer, Cale Yarborough endured a tough ending to the 1969 season. Again, in Fielden's book, he writes:
Cale Yarborough was seriously injured when his Mercury blew a tire and slammed the concrete wall on lap 143. The Timmonsville, SC drive suffered a shattered shoulder blade, an injury doctors said would him keep out of action for nine months. "When this bone is broken this badly," said one doctor, "usually the patient is dead. It's a miracle he survived such a hard crash." ~ p. 264
Cale was always known as a tough ol' bird. He wasn't killed in the Texas accident, and he wasn't out of action for nine months. The bit of good fortune he had was that the race was the final one of the season. When NASCAR's Grand National cars returned in 1970, Cale again buckled in the famed Wood Brothers' #21 Mercury. In a limited schedule for the team, Cale entered and started six of the first 10 races of 1970.

Credit: AP as published here (via Google News Archive)

So while thinking of the thrill of victory by Bobby Isaac and the agony of defeat by Buddy Baker, the Schaefer Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor wish fellow Schaefer brutha Rev. Randy...

Happy Birthday! SCHA-LOOT!!

The SHOF in 2011 (L to R): Paducah, Rev. Randy, Rookie, Tick, 
Cuba (with understudy filling in), Philly, and Uncle Dave