Monday, January 28, 2013

The other Petty winners

The King - Richard Petty - He is the name most closely associated with the record books of NASCAR. Well, at least within the circle of fans whose knowledge of NASCAR pre-dates 1979. All but four of his 200 career wins were behind the wheel of a Petty Enterprises-fielded race car.

Petty Enterprises as a company, however, has a legacy even richer than the King himself. Richard's father, Lee Petty, set the original bar with 54 NASCAR Grand National wins. All of his wins were earned driving his own cars fielded originally under the name of Petty Engineering (later renamed Petty Enterprises). Richard eventually broke his father's wins record with victory number 55 in the 1967 Rebel 400 at Darlington.

In the 1950s, Lee occasionally hired drivers to pilot a second Petty car. Drivers with names such as Bill Lutz, Johnny Dodson, Tiny Lund, Jimmy Lewallen, Bobby Myers, and yes... Ralph Earnhardt took turns behind the wheel of a Petty-built car.

In 1961, Lee was critically injured in a qualifying race for the Daytona 500 - a wreck that for all intent and purposes ended his driving career. As Petty Enterprises changed its focus to grooming young Richard as a driver, the company hired a number of drivers from 1961 through 1966 to help keep the momentum going and and the Chrysler checks flowing. Some raced for a single event - others raced a handful or more. Drivers such as Buck Baker, Art Malone, Bunkie Blackburn, LeeRoy Yarbrough, G.C. Spencer, Jim Hurtubise and Jimmy Massey helped keep Petty Enterprises vibrant as Lee's son evolved from Squirrel Jr. to Dick Petty to Richard Petty to The King.

From 1970 through 1972, Chrysler Corporation provided financial and other support to Petty Enterprises to field a second Plymouth and later a Dodge team for drivers Pete Hamilton and Buddy Baker. The team also built, supported and crewed cars for drivers in supporting series such as Woody Fisher in ARCA and Joe Millikan in ARCA and NASCAR's late model sportsman series.

When Kyle Petty began his driving career in 1979, the team fielded a car for him from his debut at Daytona in 1979 through his departure for the Wood Brothers team in the mid 1980s. Kyle returned to PE in the 1990s after banking eight Cup wins driving for the Woods and SABCO Racing.

In the post-Richard career of 1993-forward, Petty Enterprises fielded multiple cars until the demise of Petty Enterprises in 2008. Drivers varying from Buckshot Jones to Bobby Labonte and Jerry Nadeau to Jeff Green to John Andretti. Other Petty cars were raced by Greg Biffle, Boris Said, Christian Fittipaldi, Steve Grissom and most poignantly Adam Petty.

But of all the drivers hired to drive a Petty car, only a handful found their way to victory lane in NASCAR's Grand National / Cup races. Beginning February 1, I plan to blog about each of those wins. I'm not sure I'll have 100% success. Media coverage of NASCAR races - especially in the 1950s - was pretty limited. Finding a news article, photo, race program, ticket stub, and/or a personal anecdote for each of Lee's 54 wins will be awfully tough. But we'll give 'er a good run.

Here is a very quick overview of the other Petty winning drivers.

Lee Petty (1949-1963) - The patriarch started the organization late in life by racing's standards. A 35 year-old route truck driver said "well shoot, I can do that." And he did!

Jim Paschal (1961-1964, 1966) - This High Point NC driver - and a World War II naval vet - was hired at the right time by Petty Racing and delivered the right results. As Lee's career ended and Richard's career coming up through the gear box, the company needed some wins, cash and a nod to Mopar's management of "Yep, we got this." He notched 9 of his 25 career wins in Petty Plymouths, and all of them were during the critical period of 1962-1964 as the company rallied around a rising King.

Richard Petty, Jim Paschal, Jim Hurtubise, Lee Petty
Photo courtesy of Jerry Bushmire

Marvin Panch (1966) - The long-time Ford driver was sidelined in 1966 because of a FoMoCo boycott of NASCAR. But he broke ranks and drove a Petty Plymouth "because Lee Petty called" and won the 1966 World 600 at Charlotte.


Daytona 500 winners gathered in 2005: Michael Waltrip, Pete Hamilton, 
Junior Johnson, Darrell Waltrip, Marvin Panch, Bill France Jr., Richard Petty, 
Mario Andretti, Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Buddy Baker

Pete Hamilton (1970) - The 1968 NASCAR Grand National Rookie of the Year was put in a second Petty Plymouth Superbird for a single season in 1970. The kid made the most of a prime opportunity. In his first race with the team, he won the big 'un - the Daytona 500. He continued his winning ways at Talladega.



Buddy Baker (1971-1972) - NASCAR Hall of Famer Buck Baker's big boy Buddy was put in Petty gear for two years. The Pettys fielded a factory-backed Dodge for Buddy in 1971 and ran him again with STP colors in 1972. The decision to do so was rewarded with wins at Darlington and Charlotte.

Credit: SI.com

Bobby Hamilton, Sr. (1995-1997) - Nashville's Bobby Hamilton is arguably the best driver to have piloted the 43 since the King himself. While he only had two wins to show for his three years of racing for Petty Enterprises, Bobby made the rest of the field aware that the 43 was still in the show even if The King was on top of the hauler vs. holding the wheel. For Petty fans, it was tough to see him leave PE for Morgan-McClure's #4 team. For racing fans in general, it was even tougher to see him succumb to the ODB Cancer in 2007.


John Andretti (1994,1998-2003) - The son of Aldo Andretti and nephew of racing great Mario Andretti was the last driver to win for Petty Enterprises. The last one. That reality is still tough to comprehend. John and The King apparently remain close. In recent years, Andretti, Richard, Andretti Autosport and Window World teamed to field a #43 red and blue car for John in the Indy 500. Though the car each year was one badass looking ride, John didn't drink the milk or wear the roses at the Brickyard.


Please contact me by leaving a comment below, tweeting me, or by e-mail if you have a memento, photo, personal story, etc. you'd like to share about a Petty win. I'd very much be interested in incorporating what you have to offer and give credit where its due.

TMC

Saturday, January 26, 2013

January 26 - Rookie and a Riverside Romp

January 26th and its ... the birthday of Schaefer Hall of Famer and raceday turkey leg connoisseur Rookie!

The day is also the anniversary of NASCAR Hall of Fame member Cale Yarborough's win in the 1974 Winston Western 500 at Riverside International Raceway in California. The southern California road course was a staple of NASCAR's Grand National / Cup schedule from the early 1960s until it was lost to commercial development in the late 1980s. Today's California Speedway in Fontana lies in close proximity to Riverside as well as the former Ontario Motor Speedway, also lost to expansion in the greater Los Angeles market during the 1980s.

The race first took the green on the scheduled date of Sunday, January 20th. As the cars made their pace laps, Gary Bettenhausen started fifth in Roger Penske's #16 Matador with King Richard to his outside. Row 4 was Jimmy Insolo to the inside, and the 1973 WInston Cup champion Benny Parsons started sixth. At the right edge of the following photo is row 5, with Ray Elder to the inside and the ageless Hershel McGriff starting tenth in a second Petty Enterprises Dodge Charger.

Although the first two rows are outside the frame of this photo, their numbers can be read on the scoring pylon: 21 David Pearson on the pole, 11 Cale Yarborough second, 12 Bobby Allison third, and 15 George Follmer fourth. After starting second alongside pole-winner David Pearson, Cale spun off the course on the first lap.

He gathered the car back and resumed racing near the back of the pack. About 60 laps and well short of half-way, however, showers began to fall in the arid area of California. The race was postponed to the following Saturday, January 26th with Bobby Allison leading and The King sitting in second place.

Source: Lewiston Morning-Tribune via Google News Archive
When the teams returned six days later, Cale recovered from his spin and didn't take long to put his Junior Johnson Chevy back up front. He went on to lead 144 of the 191 laps to win the race. Not only was Petty running second to Allison when the rains fell on January 20th, but he also ended up second when the race ended on the 26th. The King tried to chase down Cale's Chevy but couldn't catch him.

Source for 3 photos above: Team Camaro message board
Richard racing his Petty Enterprises teammate, Hershel McGriff, although the photo caption erroneously had Charlie Glotzbach in the car.

Source: Hendersonville Times-News via Google News Archive
Following the race, David Pearson's 1971 Wood Brothers Purolator Mercury was retired to Darlington's  Joe Weatherly Stock Car Museum (as it was known then) ...

 Photo courtesy of Ray Lamm collection at RacersReunion.com
... but is now known today simply as the Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum.

Source: waymarking.com
Source: Free Lance-Star via Google News Archive
The car was removed from the museum in 2008, restored by the Woods, and put back on the track a final time so Pearson could run a few pace laps with Carl Edwards.


After the promotional on-track return, the car didn't return to the Darlington museum. Instead, it was relocated to the Thunder Road exhibit in the higher profile NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte.

So while thinking of the postponed race, the close roadie win by Cale Yarborough over the The King, and the head-shaking reality that Cup cars no longer race at Riverside, the Schaefer Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor wish fellow Schaefer brutha Rookie...

Happy Birthday! SCHA-LOOT!!
and doesn't HE look as happy as a cat on a warm brick?


TMC
Edited January 26, 2015

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Fall of Schaefer 2012 - in a good way

Whew, where did the last third of 2012 go?? Various entries were blogged over the last four months involving Schaefer, but the last update of the overall happenings of the Schaefer Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor was in September 2012. The SHOF and SROH has brought it since then. So here we go.

Labor Day weekend

Yours truly hit the poor man's version of a scratch-off lotto. TMC called into a local sports talk radio show to talk NASCAR with Monte Dutton. Unbeknownst to me, two NASCAR Camping World Truck tickets to the Atlanta race were on the line for the best caller of the segment - and I got it. Ka-ching. My name then went into a drawing for a mack-daddy prize of tickets to ALL the Atlanta races ... plus hotel ...  plus luxury suites ... plus pit passes. And...

BAM!!!

When I went to pick up my prize, I wanted to make sure I took care of the folks who took care of me. So I had some co-workers help rally some Schaefer bows for the beer I gave to a couple of the station's folks - you know, to show I cared.

SROH member Rick and his new lady friend, Cara, joined us for the Friday night Camping World Truck Series race and the rest of the weekend's Schaefer festivities.

When the *crack* of the pull tab sounded, a PYT behind us tapped me on the shoulder and seductively (or drunkenly?) asked over the roar of the truck engines "whazzat?" When I confidently replied "Schaefer - and its not just for racing anymore" she returned a great, genuine, southern gal laugh. I promptly found an extra for her to enjoy.

Her husband, boy friend, male friend, or whatever he was returned from a convo with his buds and held out his hand. I held his gaze a moment but pulled a Soup Nazi on him by stating emphatically "No Schaef for you."

On Saturday, we enjoyed milling about souvenir row. Well ... not exactly. Who's kidding who? The race crap is overpriced and under-quality - and it was friggin' STEAMING. Only logical thing to do was find a modicum of shade and pound Schaefer. So we did!

But then we spotted Speed Channel's Trackside stage, and I had an idea. During each week's Speed shows - Trackside, Raceday, Victory Lane - numbskull fans are always shown holding signs they've made. So in Atlanta, I decided to join 'em.

After SROH member Buddy took the photo below, I tried to position myself to see if I could make the show. Sure enough, with one eye on the monitor and one eye on Krista Voda's ... feet, I staked my position. Boom - there it was. For a couple of moments as Krista opened Trackside live, my sign and Schaefer can were clearly visible over her shoulder. If only I could find the opening on YouTube...

A couple of hours later, SHOFer Bruton landed at the track, called, and said something to the effect of "OK fellers, a surprise awaits." With a good bit of reluctance but with some curiosity and a commitment to other SHOFers, we sought him out. With a Georgia grin on his face, he whipped out three Old Style tall boys. And you think SCHAEFER is tough to drink? Whew. Dude.

Rick's lady friend, Cara, went from friendly to arrogant because as a race rookie of only one week she called Denny Hamlin to win at Bristol ... and he did. So afterwards she bought a Denny koozie. Begrudgingly though, I'll give her credit because she called for Denny to win again at Atlanta ... and he did.


As the Nationwide race time drew near, it was time for Buddy and me to part from our friends and head for the luxury suites. Any other time, I prefer to be with my race peeps in the stands with the sights, sounds, smells and flavors of racing. But when its free? Hey - I'm all over it and will bail on you in a New York minute.

With that as a toomuchcountry unwavering premise, you can probably surmise why this charter member SHOFer enjoyed a few cold Budweisers. That's right - because they were free! Sometimes you have to walk on the dark side.

On Sunday, Cup race day, we started our morning with another round of cold Schaefers and some Bertman's Cleveland Ballpark mustard on brats freshly grilled by Bruton. We enjoyed the mustard in honor of Cleveland's SHOFer Uncle Dave who couldn't join us for this trip. SCHA-LOOT UDR!

To again commemorate the SHOF's 20th Anniversary in 2012, SHOFer Bruton and SROH member Buddy joined me in enjoying Schaefer tall boys orphaned from May's All Star Race and Coke 600 weekends.

As the sun began to set, Buddy and I again made our way to our cozy, air-conditioned suite seats high above the start-finish line. I realized no race trip would be complete without a smuggled Schaefer to enjoy during the Cup pre-race festivities.


What it was, was football

Autumn not only means the beginning of NASCAR's Chase for the Championship but also the start of the college football season. SHOFers Rev. Randy and Cuba enjoyed a tall, cool one at an Appy State game in Boone, North Carolina.

As football weather became crisper, SHOFer Kuzzin Kari and 2012 Schaefer Racing Cornhole Co-Champion Kristi tailgated at the Carolina Panthers game. Though they were out of Schaefer to enjoy, Kari did make sure to bring her credentials to celebrate in spirit.

Between the Atlanta race and the full immersion into Georgia Dawgs football, SHOFer Bruton found an opportunity to drop a line.  I'm heard some whopper fishing tales over the years, but this one may top them all. Bruton claims he had to go to war with this catfish after it stole and downed a couple of his cold Schaefs. The situation went from fishing to personal.


Arrrrrr...

In mid-September, I spoke at a conference in Orlando, FL. With a bit of pre-trip research, I learned about Celebration Town Tavern near the Disney parks. They claim to have 99 beers available for sale. Sure enough, one of them was Schaefer! So on September 18th...

But as the slogan goes, Schaefer is the one beer to have when you're having more than one. So I did.

A day later on September 19th, I again saw an opportunity to have some Schaefer fun and seized it. September 19 is International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Using me maps, I scoured ze lands of Orlando and happened upon me Schaefer at Publix.

I secured da booty in me luggage and sailed back home aboard ze airplane.

The calendar turned to October, and again I was afforded the opportunity to be a Schaefervangelist. For an internal training / team building week, each employee of our department was asked to have their picture made with something unique to help others remember who they are. Sold!

Being a team player, I also took several cans of Schaefer bootlegged from places such as Philadelphia and Orlando to share with my co-workers.

Both of the female co-workers shown here were soon promoted. My comment to them was "Congrats! Clearly it was your enjoyment of Schaefer that put you over the top." One responded "Thanks! You know, it really wasn't that bad." BINGO! Truer words have never been spoken as previously documented in this space.

NASCAR Bank of America 500 - Charlotte Motor Speedway

As always, SHOF charter member Philly hosted a great, Schaefer-laden, tailgating party just outside of Charlotte Motor Speedway.

After an initial visit in May during the All Star Race tailgating fun, the Portuguese Assassin returned to again sample the Schaef. Not only does he have a good taste in beer, but I also applaud him for returning to where he knows to score a free one. 

A couple from the Lone Star state of Texas - Richard and Maria - made their first trip to Charlotte for a race. Reports from Philly were Richard enjoyed it - or at least thoughtfully critiqued "Its not that bad." I'm not sure about Maria. She looked to me like she was taking a urine sample somewhere. Paging Jeremy Mayfield. Mr. Mayfield?

The latest inductee to the SHOF, Kuzzin Kari, made sure to stop by to create strength in numbers for the Hall on race weekend.

TMC couldn't join my fellow SHOFers in Charlotte because I was committed to yet another conference - this one in San Antonio, Texas. (where the corporate HQ of Pabst Brewing happens to be - the current owner of the Schaefer brand). Gotta problem with all the training I get to attend? Leave your complaint in the comments box below, and I'll be sure to delete it ASAP. Thank you.

One night, all were encouraged to get face paintings. *Sigh* Really? That's just not my thing - until. An idea, a wink, a smile and an iPhone image search by a friend soon had me sitting me in the artist's chair so he could render this freehand.


South Florida Schaefer

SHOFer Uncle Dave relocated from Cleveland to south Florida in October. With his priorities firmly in order, he got a case of Schaef cold in his new refrigerator shortly after arriving...

... and posted signage where he devotes his most intense personal reflection time.
Then after unloading his truck, setting up his new place a bit and chilling the good stuff, he grabbed his lawn chair and drove the short distance needed to take in some short-track racing at Punta Gorda Speedway near Ft. Myers, FL.


As SHOFer Uncle Dave began to settle in, he began to educate himself about his new surroundings. He learned the genus and species of the Florida Boxwood is the Schaefferia-Frutescens. Uncle Dave believes its loosely interpreted as the fruity scent of Schaefer. While I'm not convinced his understanding of Latin is solid, I am convinced of his commitment to Schaef. So ... Boxwood, wood box, whatever. Its all good.

 

November

A rare opportunity presented itself as the end of the year closed in. An original, Schaefer racing uniform once worn by Kevin Cogan went up for bid on ebay. Cogan raced for Schaefer / Machinists Union / Playboy Fashions in the CART series in the late 1980s.


While many of us laughed about the possibility of owning such a treasure, none of us had the stones, wallet, or waist size to actually go for it. Except for one of us. SHOFer Cuba declared "I'm in." With a short time remaining, Cuba placed his bid. But ohhhh mannnn, another bidder sniped the uni with just a few seconds remaining.

Whoever you are, there is no way you'll be able to enjoy your purchase as much as Cuba and other SHOFers could have. As a consolation, we imagined what Cuba might have looked like rocking the Schaefer Beer / Playboy Fashions uni next spring at Charlotte.
November wound down with the country's national day of Thanksgiving. Bruton served up a deep-fried, Buffalo-seasoned, whole chicken accompanied by the remaining Schaefer tall boy of 2012. My level of thanks would have been much greater had he bothered to share any of it with the rest of the SHOFers.


December

The yuletide season - the time of year for garish Christmas decorations and pure enjoyment of Schaefer. SHOFer Rookie decked out his deck with the red-and-green lights of the season (What? Red-and-GOLD strands weren't available?) and enjoyed a cold one with his pup, Schaefer.

SHOFer Kuzzin Kari jumped back into the action by dressing a random neighbor's inflatables in her former SROH shirt. I'm still trying to convince her to do the same by sitting on a Perv Santa's lap at the mall.

A true highlight for me was to toast a Schaefer with my Uncle Ronald. He introduced me to racing when I was a kid back in the mid 70s. He began driving Chryslers and Plymouths in the early 60s, and began pulling for Richard Petty because King Richard was a Mopar man too.

When he told me I had to pull for Ol' Blue 43 ... or else, I believed him. In short order, I became a fan on my own terms vs. his. Over the years, my uncle and I have shared our share of beer - but never a Schaefer until this year. The ODB Cancer popped him for a second time this year, and he is handling it with a great deal of medical care, dignity, and humor ... and beer I suppose.


So with 2012 behind us and 2013 occupying the full view of our windshields, the Schaefer Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor wish you a Happy New Year.


 TMC