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

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