Sunday, August 4, 2013

August 4, 1963 - Paschal's Music City Triple Play

August 4, 1963: For the third consecutive year, Jim Paschal wins the Nashville 400 at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.

A couple of days before the race, starter Johnny Bruner and driver David Pearson posed for a promotional photo-op at Nashville's Mercury Motel. Pearson made his first of five career Nashville starts in the race.

Source: The Tennessean
Richard Petty won the pole in his familiar #43 Plymouth. 1960 NASCAR Grand National champion Rex White started alongside Petty. Paschal started third in a second Petty Engineering #42 Plymouth. Tiny Lund started sixth and featured prominently as a story line of the race. As noted in the following article from The Tennessean, Tiny essentially predicted the outcome of his own race with his remark "It's a good place for tearing up equipment."

Source: The Tennessean - August 4, 1963
By laying down quickest time, Petty got to choose his lane. He chose to start on the outside of row 1 alongside White. Eventual winner Paschal started third - on the inside of the second row.

For reasons not understood, Petty's car raced without a number on the driver's side door. Petty raced a #41 Plymouth in the previous race five nights earlier in Greenville, SC. Two nights before Greenville, the teams raced at Bristol where Petty battled Fred Lorenzen but finished 2nd in #43. Perhaps the team came to Nashville straight from Greenville and simply ran out of time to finish painting the 43 car - especially if the left side was used up a bit at Bristol. Who knows. But with numbers on the roof and trunk (and presumably the right side door) and the recognizable Petty blue base paint, I'm sure fans, track announcer and the crew had no trouble identifying the Randleman Rocket.

Source: The Tennessean
Russ Thompson is a life-long Nashvillian and is the unofficial historian of the speedway. He has forgotten more about what has occurred over the decades at the fairground than I'll ever care to know. A couple of years ago, he posted a blog entry about the 1963 race - much of which is excerpted below.
Twenty-one cars started the race, and it was a relatively star-studded field for the 39th race of a 55 race schedule... Starting third was Richard’s Petty Enterprises teammate Jim Paschal. Paschal was looking for his third consecutive win in the big summer race. Other big names in the field were Fred Lorenzen (on his way to the first $100,000 season in stock car racing history), defending series champion Joe Weatherly, Buck Baker, Ned Jarrett, Bobby Isaac, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, and ’63 Daytona 500 winner Tiny Lund. Local favorite Jimmy Griggs secured a ride for his hometown race.

Jim Paschal had taken the lead by using savvy pit strategy. Lund was still running well on lap 194 when his engine blew at the end of the back straight. As Lund’s car slid into the guard rail, he was hit by David Pearson. Pearson’s car pushed Lund’s on top of the railing, destroying two of the billboards that surrounded the track. Rex White was following close behind and ran under the rear of Lund’s car as it was on the guard rail, ripping the right front corner of the roof off just as if you’d used a giant can opener. White received lacerations on his arm that required stiches.

Lund’s car, after being hit in the rear where the gas tank was located, burst into flames with the nose of the car through the guard rail and the back pointing down the banking. Debris, smoke, and leaking fuel littered the track.

Lund was slow to crawl from the wreckage. Part of the reason was because, in spite of his nickname, Tiny Lund was a big man. He stood over 6 feet tall and weighed in at over 250 pounds. So his race car is on fire, he’s been through a harrowing crash, and he climbs out on top of a banked turn. The cars on the track have slowed for the wreckage and debris scattered across the track. As Lund stumbled down the banking, he staggered right into the side of the car driven by Cale Yarborough, putting a huge dent in the passenger door. Cale’s car owner, Herman Beam, wasn’t very happy with Cale when he brought the car back with a dented door that didn’t result from an accident with another car.
This series of photos gives a good sense of Tiny's violent accident.

Photo sequence source: The Tennessean - August 5, 1963
The crash scene viewed from a distance. (As an aside, I remember a mid 1970s ARCA race at Nashville when a car leaped the turn 1 wall just a few feet behind where Tiny hit. That driver also knocked down some of the billboards. But I digress...)

Photo courtesy of Steve Cavanah
And the efforts of a local towing service to haul Tiny's found-on-road-dead Ford out of Nashville's guardrail. Reckon Tiny had AAA coverage back then?

Photo courtesy of Steve Cavanah
Russ Thompson continued in his post:
Just 7 laps after the crash, as it has been known to do in Nashville on a hot summer day, an afternoon thunderstorm moved across the Fairgrounds, stopping the race for an hour and 24 minutes.

Between the red flag for the crash and another for rain, darkness was now an issue. Officials decided to stop the race after 350 laps. Jim Paschal scored his third straight Nashville 400 win, followed by Billy Wade, Joe Weatherly, Richard Petty, and Buck Baker.
Paschal not only won his third straight Nashville 400, but he also won all three in Petty cars. His wins in 1962 and 1963 were with Petty Engineering / Enterprises. Lee Petty's brother - Julian Petty - owned the #44 Pontiac Paschal drove to the first of his three straight wins in 1961.

Source: The Tennessean
Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
Edited August 3, 2014

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