Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July 10 - Uncle Dave and Winning Red

July 10th and its the birthday of ... Schaefer Hall of Famer Uncle Dave!

July 10th is also the anniversary of the second ever NASCAR Strictly Stock race in 1949. (A year later, the series was renamed the NASCAR Grand National series.) The race was the first "premier series" event sanctioned by the newly-founded National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing on Daytona Beach's famed beach and road course.

Gober Sosebee from the moonshining epicenter of Dawson County, Georgia won the pole for the 28-car field. He dominated the race by leading 34 of the 40 laps on the 4+ mile course along the Atlantic Ocean and State Highway A1A.

In golf, the old saying is drive for show but putt for dough. In racing, a similar adage is it only matters who leads the last lap not the first. Although Sosebee led the majority of laps, he lost a tire and couldn't close the sale. Red Byron took the lead with six to go and led the rest of the way.

Credit: Sorrentolens Blog
Like Uncle Dave, Byron was an army vet. Unlike Uncle Dave, Byron is credited for suggesting the NASCAR name and was its first Strictly Stock champion. Last fall, Ryan McGee wrote a terrific piece about Red Byron for that covered his military service, involvement with the formation of NASCAR and his racing career.

As a Petty fan, I found it interesting Lee Petty didn't enter the event. Lee raced (and wrecked) a borrowed Buick in the series' inaugural race at Charlotte about a month earlier. And he raced his own #42 Plymouth in the series third race in Hillsboro, NC about a month later. But for whatever reason (probably financial), Lee and his fledgling team stayed in Level Cross rather than make the trip to the beach.

From the time this blog was started about 4 years ago, I've included a sidebar link to a recommended book, Driving With The Devil: Southern Moonshine, Detroit Wheels, and the Birth of NASCAR, by Neal Thompson. The book covers the convergence of southern moonshining and the invention of the automobile. Eventually, the two found their way to countless racing bullrings around the country. Thompson writes about the 1949 Daytona Beach race:
On the afternoon of July 9, 1949, Vogt had the Olds 88 ready and waiting for Byron to tow to Daytona Beach for the next day's race, the 166-milers that would be the second of NASCAR's eight strictly stock races that year.

Byron first squeezed in a Saturday night midget race at Atlanta's Peach Bowl, which he won. He then drove all night and reach Daytona a few hours before race time.

Despite some vocal complaints form others drivers, France allowed three women to race: Sara Christian, Ethel Flock Mobley, and Louise Smith. France hoped the prospect of three women battling crusty moonshiner/racers on the beach, not to mention four Flock siblings on the same track, would draw a record crowd. But rainy weather caused a sparse showing of five thousand.
UDR: Never a fan of rain at the races
Dawsonsville's Gober Sosebee led the early laps, with Tim Flock and Red Byron stalking from behind. Louise Smith flipped her Ford in the chopped-up and rutted north turn, landing upside down and dangling from her seat belt. A dozen fans ran to her aid, but Smith insisted she wasn't hurt and asked if they'd help roll her back over so she could go back in the race. Smith stayed put in the driver's seat while the men flipped her car back onto its wheels, and she took off. Sosebee held the lead until losing a tire with six laps to go. It gave Byron the perfect opening to jump into the lead.

Byron was now a master of the complicated beach course. He knew how to drive at the surf's edge, so seawater could mist up and cool his brakes, but not too close. He knew, when his windshield became gauzy and opaque with salt spray, to eyeball the telephone poles of highway A1A to help him stay on the road. He knew how to shoulder his car into the turns, to broadslide thorough the knotting, slurried arcs, trusting [Red] Vogt's reinforced wheels to withstand the pressure. With no bucket seats in his strictly stock car, he had to hold tight to the steering wheel to keep from sliding into the passenger seat.

He and his Olds 88 kept a steady pace for the final twenty-five miles, and Byron comfortably crossed the finish line nearly two miles ahead of Tim Flock for his fourth Daytona victory, more than any other driver in the stock car racing's brief history.

Ethel Flock Mobley, driving with her AM radio blasting throughout the race, finished an impressive eleventh - ahead of brothers Bob and Fonty. Sara Christian finished eighteenth, and Louise Smith, after her flip, came in second to last.

Byron's win was a first for a General Motors car in a NASCAR race. In fact, the top four finishers were all Oldsmobiles. A Ford didn't even finish among the top ten, lost in a crowd of Chryslers, Mercurys, Hudsons, Cadillacs, and Buicks. ~ pp. 298-301
Credit: Sorrentolens Blog
Source: Daytona Beach Morning Journal
L to R: SROH member 200WINZ, NASCAR HOF crew chief Dale Inman, Uncle Dave
So while thinking of watching Gober slide his car through the sandy turns as Red waited patiently behind him, the Schaefer Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor wish fellow Schaefer brutha Uncle Dave...

Happy Birthday! SCHA-LOOT!!

SHOF entrant number 5: Uncle Dave

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