Monday, July 15, 2013

July 15: A Jersey Girl Birthday & Morristown Memories

July 15th and its the birthday of ... Schaefer Hall of Famer Kuzzin Kari!

July 15th also has a nice racing legacy including...
  • The 1969 Maryland 300 in Beltsville, MD won by Richard Petty
  • The 1971 Islip 250 near Long Island, NY also won by Richard Petty
  • The 1978 Nashville 420 that was flat dominated by Cale Yarborough to sweep the two Nashville races that season. Also, Petty raced his ill-fated Dodge Magnum. After Nashville, The King raced the Dodge only six more times before switching over to Chevrolet.

Photo courtesy of Russ Thompson
Photo courtesy of Russ Thompson

But with Kuzzin Kari being an original Jersey girl, I thought I'd focus on July 15th as the anniversary of the final NASCAR Grand National race run at Morristown Speedway in New Jersey. The big cars were scheduled to race 200-laps, 100-miles on the track's half-mile, dirt surface. Georgia's Tim Flock won the pole and the race in his #300 Carl Kiekaefer Chrysler.

In his book, Forty Years of Stock Car Racing, Greg Fielden summarizes the storylines of the race:
Tim Flock, the lanky Atlanta star, proved its just as profitable to be lucky as it is to be good as he rode a wave of good fortune to win the 100-mile race at Morristown Speedway.

Flock led the first 150 laps, but made a pit stop to correct a badly worn right front tire and lost two and half laps in the process. Junior Johnson picked up first place and led for 40 laps. The Atlanta flash, however, was charging hard to make up the deficit, but it appeared that he was too late. Then the lucky break ... misfortune struck the Johnson Olds as a tire blew with the checkered flag in sight. Tim flew by as Johnson headed for the pits. Johnson wound up fourth, four laps behind the winner.

Lee Petty finished second to Flock, two laps back. [Dave] Terrel was third, with [Bobby] Johns and Jim Reed rounding out the top five.

A crowd of 9,000 jammed the grandstands to watch Flock average 58.092 mph on the half-mile dirt track. ~ pp. 188-189
Nine thousand people? By executive order, I declare a new Schaefer Hall of Fame goal - to have 9,000 Schaefer HOF and Ring of Honor members. We already have nine Schaefer HOFers. So we're umm, err, well, we're .10 percent there - but going in the right direction!

Tim Flock and Lee Petty pretty much had Morristown figured out. The Grand National series ran 5 races at the half-mile track from 1951 through 1955. Look at these finishes:
  • 1951 - Tim Flock wins pole and race, Lee Petty 2nd in the race
  • 1952 - Lee starts 3rd and wins the race, Flock qualifies and finishes 2nd
  • 1953 - Lee 3rd, Flock not entered
  • 1954 - Lee 6th, Flock not entered
  • 1955 - Tim Flock wins pole and race, Lee Petty 2nd in the race
Adding in another Petty trivia nugget for the 1955 race, as I try to do as often as possible, Bob Welborn started third and finished eighth in a Chevrolet fielded by Julian Petty.

So while reflecting on a couple of The King's 200 wins, the ending of his relationship with Dodge, Cale' blistering of the competition at Nashville, and NASCAR's legendary Tim Flock's win in the Garden State, the Schaefer Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor wish fellow Schaefer HOFer Kuzzin Kari ...

Happy Birthday! SCHA-LOOT!!

Schaefer HOF entrant #9 - Kuzzin Kari
TMC

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