Sunday, June 19, 2016

June 19, 1964 - Chattanooga's All-American 300

Tennessee has a pretty rich history with respect to NASCAR GN/Cup racing. Bristol has been a mainstay on the schedule since 1961 and really took off when the summer night race was introduced in 1978. Nashville's Fairgrounds Speedway began hosting GN races in 1958, and the names continued racing until 1984. Drivers such as Darrell Waltrip and Sterling Marlin have longed called middle Tennessee home. But southeastern Tennessee also has a bit of NASCAR history to it.

Boyd's Speedway technically sits on the south side of the Tennessee-Georgia border. To get to it, however, one leaves I-75 at Exit 1 - the first one inside Tennessee. A couple of turns later, and you're back in Georgia - though folks would still refer to the area as part of the 'Nooga.

In the mid 1960s, Boyd's was known as Chattanooga International Raceway. The track hosted two GN races - one in 1962 won by Joe Weatherly and the second one on June 19, 1964. The All-American 300 was scheduled as a 300-lap race around the 1/3-mile paved track.

Source: Chattanooga Daily Times
One of the expected victory lane benefits for the winning driver was a peck on the cheek by Miss Firebird, Linda Vaughn. Later known as Miss Hurst Shifter, Linda didn't have far to travel for the Chattanooga race. Being from Dalton, GA, she only had to travel about a half-hour from her mama's front porch.

The King, Richard Petty, won the pole. Coincidentally, Petty also won the pole for the first GN race at Chattanooga in 1962. David Pearson qualified on the front row with Petty. Two more NASCAR HOFers, Ned Jarrett and Buck Baker, lined up on the second row. Jimmy Pardue rounded out the top five starters. A few other drivers in the line-up included Wendell Scott in 6th, Buddy Baker in 12th, and Cale Yarborough 19th - shotgun on the field.

When the green dropped, Pearson got the jump in his Cotton Owens Dodge. He led the first 100 laps. Buddy Baker wrecked during the 100th lap, and it may have been during that time the lead traded hands.

Petty took the lead from Pearson as the field entered the middle third of the race. Around lap 150, Scott wrecked resulting in another caution flag. Petty and Pearson made pit stops and headed back on the track. When the race went green again at lap 160, Petty realized he had a cut tire - likely from some gravel kicked up on the dirt from the infield.

With Petty forced to the pits for an unexpected second stop, Pearson re-assumed the lead from Petty, built a two-lap lead because of the 43's misfortune, and stayed out front for the second half of the race.

Jarrett blew a tire and hit the wall with just three laps remaining. The flagman displayed the yellow once again, and Pearson cruised the remaining three laps to take the win over Petty, Buck Baker in third, and Jarrett surviving to finish fourth. The race was the sixth of 63 times involving a Petty-Pearson, 1-2 finish.

Boyd's Speedway continues to operate today (web | Twitter) with a slate of races most Friday nights.

As noted earlier, Chattanooga has its own connection to NASCAR. In addition to Boyd's / CIR, here are a few examples:
  • Lee Petty and Johnny Beauchamp finished side by side in the inaugural Daytona 500 in 1959 with Petty getting the slight edge and the win. Finishing third was Charley Griffith from Chattanooga - a career best for Griffith in his 17 GN races.
  • Chattanooga's Friday Hassler was a 10-year veteran of GN/Cup racing. He regularly raced with #39 and sponsorship from Rock City. Hassler was tragically killed during his 125-mile qualifying race at Daytona in 1972.
  • The late Grant Adcox of Chattanooga was an occasional Cup racer and a winner in the ARCA series. He was sponsored for a brief period by Krystal Hamburgers, a Chattanooga-based company at the time.
  • When Ken Schrader drove the famed Wood Brothers Ford, Little Debbie snack cakes sponsored #21. Little Debbies are made by McKee Baking, a Chattanooga-based company.
  • Schrader also drove for another team with Chattanooga ties. Nelson Bowers, an owner of Chattanooga-area auto dealerships, was one of the three owners of MB2 Motorsports. MB2 was acquired by Ginn Racing which was later merged into Dale Earnhardt, Inc. 
  • And coincidentally, 20 years after Pearson's win in Chattanooga, he was again connected to Rock City with sponsorship from Chattanooga Chew tobacco.
Credit: Jerry Bushmire
Source: Chattanooga Daily Times


  1. Good stuff as usual, love the close with all the Chattanooga connections

  2. Looking at that aerial map, while the actual track is in Georgia, the pits are in Tennessee.