Saturday, February 27, 2021

There's No 'Minnesota Nice' for Joe Frasson

Joe Frasson

By Trevor Williams 

Brainerd, Minn. (February 27, 2007) - "Lead, follow or get the heck out of my way."

That was the racing philosophy of Minnesota native and former NASCAR driver Joe Frasson. He is the most accomplished NASCAR driver from Minnesota, having raced in more than 100 events on what is now the Nextel circuit.

Frasson was born in south Minneapolis and grew up in Golden Valley. He began his career by racing sprint cars and roadsters.

He developed a reputation of being one of the more popular drivers at Elko Speedway during the 1960s. In one race he was dueling Blackie Wangerin, another Minnesotan who would later make it into NASCAR. After Frasson went up a lap, Wangerin decided to take Frasson out and spun both of their cars.

"I was pretty hot tempered back then," Frasson said. "I got out of the car and went after him. Some track officials tried to grab me. I guess I knocked Blackie down along with a couple officials. I didn't know I hit Blackie as hard as I did. I put him in the hospital with a concussion."

After the incident Frasson was barred from Elko, but because he was so popular, they eventually relented and let him back in.

"As a joke the next week I came back with a black hat since I'm the bad boy," Frasson said. "I wore that hat at the racetrack ever since. I guess the reputation has followed me. Any track I went to, short track, dirt, USAC (United States Auto Club), NASCAR, if you wanted to find Big Joe, find the black hat and the cigar."

In 1969 Frasson decided to move on to bigger things when racing legend A.J. Foyt, whom he raced with in USAC, talked him into going to Riverside, Calif. to try his luck at NASCAR.

"Foyt told me, 'Those NASCAR boys aren't so tough. We can whup 'em!'" Frasson said. "Boy was he wrong!"

Frasson had some small success, finishing in the top ten 19 times, but most NASCAR fans remember him only for being inadvertently part of the wild finish at the 1976 Daytona 500.

Way ahead of the rest of the field, Richard Petty and David Pearson went into the final lap first and second, respectively.

Pearson took the lead going into turn three by drafting Petty and then going inside. Petty was then able to get around Pearson in turn four to regain the lead. As they came out of turn four, Petty moved to the right of Pearson, trying to close the door on him but instead clipped Pearson, sending both of them spinning.

At the same time Frasson was running a lap down.

"I went to the bottom of the track to try to avoid it and David came down and hit me in the side," Frasson said. "That knocked him back toward the track. It knocked me down pit row."

While Pearson hit Frasson, Petty's car came to a dead stop, but his crew ran out toward his car.

Pearson had engaged the clutch during the melee to keep his car running. In first gear, at what some estimated between 20 to 30 mph, Pearson slowly drove toward the finish line, several hundred feet away. As Petty's crew reached his car and began pushing, Pearson puttered past Petty and won the race.

"It's taken from the day of the crash until last year to get David to finally admit to the press that if he hadn't hit me, which knocked him back toward the track, he wouldn't have won the race," Frasson laughed.

Frasson is also known for the aborted attempt in 1975 to get Pontiac back into racing. He was approached by NASCAR and a motor company to field Pontiac cars, but it didn't turn out as planned.

"NASCAR wouldn't let me have a spoiler on the back of the Pontiac," he said. "You couldn't drive it, you couldn't hold it straight. When I missed qualifying at Charlotte, it was time for the Pontiac to go."

Joe Frasson takes a tire iron to his Pontiac. 

Frustrated, he decided to destroy the car with a tire iron.

"I didn't hit anywhere around the carburetor, windshield or glass," he said. "I could use that to make a Chevrolet. If I didn't destroy it, the car would go back to the shop and we'd be using it for the next race.

"The press said, 'Good Lord! Why didn't you tell us you were going to do that? We would like to get some pictures.' I said, 'Gather round, we'll do it again.' So the press gathered around, I did it again and NASCAR fined me $1,000."

Outside of NASCAR, Frasson participated in the first two Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash races, which would later inspire the film "The Cannonball Run" with Burt Reynolds.

Bill Broderick of the Union Oil Co. convinced Frasson to drive a Travco motor home that someone wanted delivered from New York to California.

"By the time I reached California, the party was over," Frasson said.

The next year Broderick wanted Frasson to drive a motor home again, but Frasson declined. However, Broderick told Frasson that Travco would build the motor home any way he wanted.

"I'll drive on one condition they have a 426 Hemi, a four-speed road race transmission, a 327 gear and special shocks," Frasson told Broderick. "That crazy motor home ended up running 140 mph!"

As the 1970's progressed, Frasson raced less and less in NASCAR. He was making money as a short track driver, but the amount of money to keep his NASCAR car running was tying up his finances.

One of his major last races was in the Late Model Sportsman 300 at Daytona, the precursor to today's Busch Series Orbitz 300.

Frasson had his own car ready to go, yet decided not to drive, having a bad feeling about the race.

"But Marion 'Preacher' Cox called me and begged me to drive his car," he said. "I told him I had a bad feeling. He said, 'You're the only one who can make money on my car for me. I fired the driver and lost the sponsor.'

Reluctantly, Frasson took Cox's car. Surprisingly, it ran well and Frasson began moving up the pack.

Then tragedy struck.

A driver blew a clutch. Another driver who was driving Petty's car went low to avoid it but turned sideways and lost control of the car. Frasson had to choose between going straight into the spinning driver's side door or going into the wall. Frasson chose the wall. But it wasn't enough.

"I hit the wall and quarter panel of Petty's car so hard it spun him around," he said. "He came down on top of my hood and drove the left front wheel into the clutch and brake pedal.

"The car caught fire. I'm trying to get out of the car, taking off my seatbelts because the car is burning. I heard a voice that said, 'Joe - sit down!' So, I sat back down, snapped the lap belt back on. That's when a car driven by Don Williams, a rookie, who had gone through three caution lights, took the caution flag, but kept running wide open, slammed into the back of my car.

"Of course, the car exploded. It rolled end over end. And it happened so fast. For a moment I thought I had gone blind. My goggles had melted and ran down into my eyes. Amazingly, I had only some superficial burns, including half my beard burned off."

While Frasson walked away from the wreck, Williams went into a coma for 10 years before finally dying.

Soon afterward Frasson was out of NASCAR as a driver for good.

"I went back to open competition dirt Outlaw racing," he said. "That's where I was successful, and all my wins came. Racing Champions, this company that makes racing cards like baseball cards, they documented some 450 short track wins."

Frasson is not a fan of today's NASCAR. "It's not racing anymore," he said. "It's, 'Oh, don't you bump that car in front of you. We'll fine you and bar you!'

"What are we doing gentleman racing? Then let's not do it for money, let's do it for a glass of wine!"

"My favorite drivers are the guys I came up with, like Foyt, Dan Gurney, Mario Andretti, Al Unser and Bobby Unser. Those guys were race car drivers. We'd race speedways, short tracks, dirt tracks, stock cars, sprint cars, Indy cars. If there was a race, we were going to be there.

"These cats today, two-thirds of them are lost when they get on a road course. God help the crowd if they ever had to run an eighth-mile dirt track."

He shrugs off NASCAR's recent crackdown down on cheating. "If you don't cheat, you don't eat."

"But I have never cheated. I just have been a little more competitive than others!" Frasson said.

Friday, February 26, 2021

1961 - Daytona 500 Won by Marvin Panch

Marvin Panch waves to fans after winning the 1961 Daytona 500. 

Daytona Beach, Fla. (February 26, 1961) - Marvin “Pancho” Panch drove a powerful black 1960 Pontiac at a world record breaking speed of 149.601 miles an hour to score a stirring, 15-second victory today in the Daytona 500 stock car race.

The 35-year-old Panch came on to win when Glenn “Fireball” Roberts dropped out with heartbreaking car failure after setting a pace of better than 150 m.p.h. until he was just 13 laps from the end of this grueling 200-lap grind.

Daytona International Speedway's high-banked turns invited unprecedented speeds and Panch easily topped the previous 500-mile world record of 138.767 set by Jim Rathmann of Miami in last year's Indianapolis race.

And he made the Daytona 500 record of 135.129, set two years ago by Lee Petty of Randleman, N.C., seem slow by comparison.

A throng of some 65,000 saw Panch of Daytona Beach come in for the checkered victory flag ahead of Joe Weatherly, another Pontiac pilot from Norfolk, Va.

Paul Goldsmith of St. Clair Shores, Mich., who was third in last year's Indianapolis 500, also was third today in still another of the Pontiacs which have dominated “Speed Week” events here.

For his victory, Panch collected $20,750 in this $98,145 event.

Despite the perilous speeds, the race was crash-free in refreshing comparison with Friday's two 100-milers, which were filled with numerous crashes.

Roberts was a full two and a half miles in front of the pack when he pulled into his pit, with his gold painted car smoking and the crowd groaning. A broken crankshaft was discovered, and he was pushed over to the infield.

It was a heartbreaking day also for Edwin (Banjo) Mathews of Asheville, N. C. His 1961 Ford was in second place when it was disabled in a spin off the east turn on the 183rd lap. He was the only one offering a challenge to the roaring Pontiacs.

At the same time, Darel Dieringer of Indianapolis spun out and limped in with front end smashed.

Bob “Junior” Johnson of North Wilkesboro, N. C., winner last year, was running first on the 42nd lap but was slowed by engine trouble and failed to finish.

The brutal pace started taking its toll of machines early. In the first five laps, four cars had to go into the pits for repair work. Only 30 of the 58 starters finished.

Roberts led for 12 laps, Mathews for the next three, then Nelson Stacy of Cincinnati for two in a 1961 Pontiac.

This trio continued to take turns in front until the 43rd lap when Roberts forged ahead to stay until his breakdown. At one time, at the end of the 30th lap, Roberts was driving at 152.456 miles an hour.

It was still a close battle at the 250-mile halfway mark, with Panch whittling away at Roberts’ lead until it was only seven seconds.

Then Fireball began to move out. By the 170th round, he had lapped Mathews and Panch and was two laps up on Weatherly and Goldsmith.

Some observers thought he would decide to begin coasting then. But he didn't and the demand was too much for his car.

Richard Petty of Randleman, N.C., made a surprise appearance in the race, sharing wheel time with Bob Welborn of Atlanta in a 1961 Pontiac. Petty was painfully injured Friday when his car went over the high west wall. His father, Lee, was badly hurt in another Friday race.

Results –

1. Marvin Panch, Daytona Beach, Fla.
2. Joe Weatherly, Norfolk, Va.
3. Paul Goldsmith, St. Clair Shore, Mich.
4. Fred Lorenzen, Elmhurst, Ill.
5. Cotton Owens, Spartanburg, S.C.
6. Jack Smith, Spartanburg, S.C.
7. Ned Jarrett, Newton, N.C.
8. Johnny Allen, Atlanta, Ga.
9. Buck Baker, Spartanburg, S.C.
10.Tom Pistone, Chicago
11.Bob Welborn, Atlanta, Ga.
12.Rex White Spartanburg, S.C.
13.Jim Reed, Peekskill, N.Y.
14.Sal Tovella, Addison, Ill.
15.Charlie Glotzbach, Edwardsville, Ind.
16.Darel Dieringer, Indianapolis
17.Tom Dill, Erie, Penn.
18.Emmanuel Zervakis, Richmond, Va.
19.Joe Kelly, Conshohocken, Penn.
20.Glenn Roberts, Daytona, Fla.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

1968 – Yarborough cops Daytona 500

Cale Yarborough celebrates his Daytona 500 victory. 

Daytona Beach, Fla. (February 25, 1968) – Chunky Cale Yarborough won the Daytona 500 demolition derby by a scant 50 feet Sunday. That figure out to be $945 a foot.

In winning his second race in a row over the high-banked Daytona International Speedway, the blond driver from Charlotte, N.C., picked up a tidy sum of $42,250 in the richest stock car race in history.

Yarborough, who won the Firecracker 400 here last July 4, passed his sound-alike on the stock car circuit, LeeRoy Yarbrough, with only seven miles to go in the grinding 500-miler.

LeeRoy collected $17,525 for his second-place finish.

It was a one-two finish for the spiffy new Mercury Cyclones as Yarborough flashed by the finish line with Yarbrough a single second behind him

“My heart fell at least four times,” said Yarborough, as he sipped a soft drink and wiped the grime from his face afterwards. “It just seemed like we were always having a lot of pit stops and each time I felt like ‘this is it’.”

First it was a bad transformer, said Yarborough, the two stops for cut tires and a fourth stop for an overheating engine.

Fifty sparkling stock cars rolled under the green flag at 12:30 pm, but only 19 followed Yarborough across the finish line 3 hours, 23 minutes and 44 seconds later in a race marked by several wrecks in front of the grandstand.

Although the finish was one of the most exciting in stock car racing history, Yarborough failed to set an expected new record due to 11 caution flags, which were flown for 58 laps of thee race for wreck debris on the track.

His winning speed was 143.251 miles per hour compared to the official record of 154.334 set by Richard Petty in 1964.

The $200,000 race was watched by a crowd of nearly 100,000 racing fans and was seen on closed-circuit television in England, Europe and Japan.

Petty, the Randleman, N.C., flash who was one of thee favorites in his new Plymouth Roadrunner, took the lead briefly early in the race but had to make several unscheduled pit stops because of windshield trouble. He finished eighth, two laps behind Yarborough.

The first three cars were in the same lap with David Pearson of Spartanburg, S.C., in a 1968 Ford leading a pack of four other car a lap behind the leaders. Pearson finished fourth, followed by Paul Goldsmith of Munster, Ind., in a 1968 Plymouth; Darel Dieringer, Charlotte, N.C., 1968 Plymouth; and Al Unser, Albuquerque, N.M., 1968 Dodge.

Results –

1. Cale Yarborough
2. LeeRoy Yarbrough
3. Bobby Allison
4. David Pearson
5. Paul Goldsmith
6. Darel Dieringer
7. Al Unser
8. Richard Petty
9. Tiny Lund
10.Andy Hampton
11.Bob Pronger
12.A.J. Foyt
13.Bob Senneker
14.Clyde Lynn
15.Bill Seifert
16.Butch Hartman
17.Wendell Scott
18.Larry Manning
19.Henley Gray
20.Dave Marcis
21.Rod Eulenfield
22.Sam McQuagg
23.Charles Burnett
24.Frank Warren
25.Elmo Langley
26.Jabe Thomas
27.Jim Hurtubise
28.Don Biederman
29.Mario Andretti
30.Buddy Baker
31.John Sears
32.Charlie Glotzbach
33.Earl Brooks
34.Bill Champion
35.Dick Johnson
36.Bobby Isaac
37.Bobby Johns
38.Sonny Hutchins
39.Bob Cooper
40.Donnie Allison

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Daytona 1964 – The Greatest Field in NASCAR History

By Mark Aumann 

Daytona, Fla. (February 23, 1964) - From a competitive standpoint, the 1964 Daytona 500 was nothing special. Richard Petty dominated the race, leading 184 laps, including the final 148 as the new Plymouths were head and shoulders above the rest of the competition. 

However, a glance through the finishing order reveals a veritable Who’s Who of American auto racing. With no fewer than six current or future Cup champions, nine Daytona 500 winners, three Indianapolis 500 winners and two drivers with Formula One experience -- not to mention the patriarch of the Earnhardt racing clan and the only black driver to win a Cup race -- the 1964 Daytona 500 could be considered the greatest field in NASCAR history.

And sadly, five drivers who competed in that race would lose their lives in racing accidents before the racing world assembled at Daytona again the following winter.

Petty's success in both NASCAR and the Daytona 500 has been well-documented. He would go on to win the 500 six more times in the next 15 seasons and finish with 200 career victories and seven championships. Petty started the ‘64 race alongside pole-sitter Paul Goldsmith as Chrysler products -- featuring the new 426 cubic-inch Hemi engine -- captured eight of the top 10 starting positions.

And it didn't take long for Petty to show his superiority. He took the lead from Goldsmith on the second lap, and after Bobby Isaac led for three circuits, only gave up the lead as a result of an early round of green-flag pit stops. From that point on, Petty was unstoppable. He lapped the entire field, beating runner-up Jimmy Pardue to the checkered flag by one lap and 9 seconds.

But the real story of the 1964 Daytona 500 wasn't as much about what as who.

Driving as a teammate to Petty, two-time Cup champion Buck Baker finished 12th, six laps behind. Ned Jarrett, the 1961 champ -- who would win a second title the following season -- was involved in a mid-race crash and wound up 27th.

Future three-time champion David Pearson, whose name would be forever linked with Petty’s after the finish in the 1976 Daytona 500, also crashed out of the ‘64 race, finishing 30th. Isaac, who would wear the 1970 Cup crown, ran out of fuel late in the going and was credited with 15th place. And a young Cale Yarborough -- who wouldn't score his first Cup victory until the following season -- was one of only 20 of the 46-car field still running at the finish, as he wound up 17th.

In addition to Petty, Pearson and Yarborough, each winner of the previous four Daytona 500s took part in the '64 race. Starting third, 1960 winner Junior Johnson drove a steady race to finish ninth. Driving the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Ford, 1961 winner Marvin Panch wound up fourth. Daytona native Fireball Roberts, the 1962 winner, went out early with transmission troubles and was credited with 37th place. And Tiny Lund, who had pulled off a surprising upset in the 1963 race, was five laps down at the finish in 11th.

Two other drivers in the field would visit Daytona’s victory lane in future 500s. A.J. Foyt, better known for his four Indianapolis 500 victories, would win the Daytona 500 in 1972. And Buddy Baker, who always seemed to be the bridesmaid at Daytona, finally captured NASCAR’s crown jewel in 1980.

In addition to stock car’s finest, many of open-wheel’s top stars were also in attendance that day. Future three-time Indy 500 winner Johnny Rutherford finished 26th in Bud Moore's Mercury, while 1963 Indy 500 winner Parnelli Jones wound up 28th after the engine let go in his Mercury after 77 laps.

And making his third and final Daytona 500 appearance, sports-car legend Dan Gurney finished 14th in one of the Wood Brothers team cars.

Also worthy of mention: Ralph Earnhardt wound up 19th in his final Daytona 500 start, and Wendell Scott -- coming off a victory at Jacksonville two months earlier -- was credited with a 38th-place finish after his Chevy overheated just seven laps into the event. Frenchman Jo Schlesser drove Bondy Long's Ford to a 13th-place finish in what would be his only Daytona 500 appearance.

The 1964 Daytona 500 was also a prelude to what was a tragic season for racing in general.

In May, Roberts would be involved in a fiery accident during Charlotte's World 600 and die of his injuries one month later. One week later, sports-car ace Dave MacDonald -- who scored a top-10 finish at Daytona -- would crash on the first lap of the Indianapolis 500 in a horrific accident that claimed his life and that of Eddie Sachs.

Those two accidents would lead to major safety improvements in both NASCAR and USAC, including the eventual implementation of fuel cells and more fire-retardant driving suits and helmets.

Three other drivers would be killed in the next 12 months in tire-testing accidents. Pardue lost his life while doing tire testing for Goodyear at Charlotte in September when a tire blew and he lost control, crashing through the guardrail. Billy Wade, who finished sixth in the ’64 race, was killed in a crash at Daytona the following January during tire testing. And rising open-wheel star Bobby Marshman died of injuries sustained in a tire-testing accident at Phoenix in December.

Results –

1. Richard Petty
2. Jimmy Pardue
3. Paul Goldsmith
4. Marvin Panch
5. Jim Paschal
6. Billy Wade
7. Darel Dieringer
8. Larry Frank
9. Junior Johnson
10.Dave MacDonald
11.Tiny Lund
12.Buck Baker
13.Joe Schlesser
14.Dan Gurney
15.Bobby Isaac
16.Larry Thomas
17.Cale Yarborough
18.Doug Cooper
19.Ralph Earnhardt
20.Smokey Boutwell
21.Curtis Crider
22.Reb Wickersham
23.Sal Tovella
24. A.J. Foyt
25.Jim McElreath
26.Johnny Rutherford
27.Ned Jarrett
28.Parnelli Jones
29.Buddy Baker
30.David Pearson
31.Fred Lorenzen
32.Jack Anderson
33.G.C. Spencer
34.Ronnie Chumley
35.Booby Marshman
36.Bobby Johns
37.Fireball Roberts
38.Wendell Scott
39.Elmo Henderson
40.Joe Clark
41.Bill McMahan
42.Jim Bray
43.Bunkie Blackburn
44.Bob Cooper
45.Jim Cook
46.Neil Castles

Sunday, February 21, 2021

1970 - Lund is Big Man at Daytona

DeWayne "Tiny" Lund comes up big at Daytona. 

Daytona, Fla. (February 21, 1970) – The winner of Sunday’s Permatex 300 is a big man in auto racing circles.

They call him “Tiny,” but DeWayne Lund stands 6-feet-4 and carries 250 pounds on that well-muscled frame of his.

It was his extra beef and courage that led to his victory in the 1963 Daytona 500 and probably saved the life of Marvin Panch.

A few days before Panch was drive the Wood Brother’s Ford in the 500-mile classic, he crashed while practicing in a sports car and it burst into flames. Lund was johnny-on-the-spot, pulling the injured Panch from the fiery inferno in one of the most heroic acts ever witnessed at Daytona.

Panch was too seriously injured to drive to Glen and Leonard Wood asked Lund if he would fill in. Lund, carless at the time, grabbed the opportunity and piloted the Ford to victory a week later.

The now 40-year-old driver from Cross, S.C., won a split-second victory over another veteran, Red Farmer of Hueytown, Ala. A crowd of 51,300 were in attendance.

Driving a 1966 Ford that won last year’s Permatex 300, Lund averaged 133.116 miles per hour in a race that was run under caution for 35 circuits.

Ironically, the Bondy – Long owned car is the same one that Lee Roy Yarbrough drove to victory in last year’s 300-miler. And the next day, Lee Roy won the Daytona 500.

In what was described as one of the weirdest finishes ever seen on the 2.5-mile tri-oval, Lund was comfortably out front when a caution waved with four laps to go. Pieces of tire left from another car were on the track.

For three laps, they rode under the yellow and as the field came into sight of the starter, Lund and the rest of the field got the green “go” flag, which made it a quarter-lap dash for the checkered.

The final dash for the checkered made a difference of more than $4,000. Lund collected $11,850 while Farmer took home $7,735

“Boy!” said the breathless Lund afterwards. “That turned into a drag race at the end.”

Results –

1. Tiny Lund, Cross, S.C.
2. Red Farmer, Hueytown, Ala.
3. Donnie Allison, Hueytown, Ala.
4. Sonny Hutchins, Richmond, Va.
5. Hooker Hood, Memphis, Tenn.
6. Haskell Willingham, Columbia, S.C.
7. Jim Maires, Baltimore, Md.
8. Billy Bayles, West Monroe, La.
9. Lou Lazzaro, Utica, N.Y.
10.Phil Wendt, Irvington, Ala.
11.Butch Hirst, Orange City, Fla.
12.Rod Eulenfield, Jacksonville, Fla.
13. Glenn McDuffie, Sanford, N.C.
14.Sam Sommer, Savannah, Ga.
15.Ronnie Daniels, Lynchburg, Va.
16.Wayne Niedecken, Pensacola, Fla.
17.Bill Hollar, Burlington, N.C.
18.J.C. Spradley, Gloversville, S.C.
19.Jerry Churchill, Windsor, Ontario
20.Ray Walfenstein, Las Vegas, Nev.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

1966 – Low Tank Costly to Iowan

Daytona winner Jack Bowsher is joined by ARCA's John Marcum in victory lane. 

Daytona Beach, Fla. (February 20, 1966) - Talk about Inflation - Ramo Stott stopped off to get a couple of gallons of gas at Daytona’s International Speedway on Sunday, and it cost him $2,100.

Stott, from Keokuk, Iowa, had to settle for second place and $3,350 in the Automobile Racing Club of America 250-mile championship when his pit crew sent him onto the track with less than a full lank of gas in his 1965 Plymouth after his second pit stop.

He had to make a third stop and Jack Bowsher, Springfield, Ohio - who made only two pit stops - drove his 1966 Ford to the championship and a prize of $5,450.

Bowsher beat Stott across the finish line by only 100 feet, and it was that third pit stop that made the difference. The stop lasted only five seconds - just enough to splash a couple of gallons in the tank, but the slowing down time let Bowsher get that 100-foot margin.

Bowsher’s speed was 164.053 miles an hour, the fastest 250 ever negotiated over the high-banked track. It beat the old ARCA record of 154.103 miles per hour set two years ago by Nelson Stacy driving a 1964 Ford and also topped the NASCAR 250-mile race record of 154.291, set by David Pearson July 4, 1961.

Two minor problems cost Bowsher a little extra pit time - an adjustment to his wedge, engine, and transmission trouble, He spent a total of 65 seconds at a dead stop. Stott had no mechanical delays; stopped only 27 seconds the first time and 15 seconds the second.

But with eight laps to go and leading about 25 seconds, he saw the fuel pressure bubbling. “When that bubbles, you know you don’t have enough gas to go more than two laps,” Stott said. “There was nothing to do but alert the pit crew the first time past and come in the next time.”

Bowsher said he could not go at top speed because of his bad transmission but he coaxed 168 miles an hour out of his car or, each of the last six laps and kept Stott from catching him.

There was not as much as a brush of fenders by the 33 contenders. The yellow caution flag was out for two laps when Phil Cronin of Houston, Tex., blew an engine, but it barely slowed the leaders as Cronin coasted into the pit.

Andy Hampton of Louisville, Ky., finished one lap back in third place in a 1965 Dodge and won $2,150. Ernie Derr of Keokuk, Iowa was fourth in a 1966 Dodge for $1,125. Shad Wheeler of Fredericktown, Ohio was fifth in a 1961 Ford for $800.

Results –

1. Jack Bowsher
2. Ramo Stott
3. Andy Hampton
4. Ernie Derr
5. Shad Wheeler
6. Ralph Latham
7. Jack Purcell
8. Mel Gillett
9. Sal Tovella
10.Keith Ploughe
11.Clyde Parker
12.Harold Smith
13.Paul Wensink
14.Bob Coe
15.Hank Teeters
16.Wally Arkkelin
17.Ray Daniels
18.Kenny Benner
19.Jack Shanklin
20.Phil Cronin
21.Iggy Katona
22.Johnny Ditch
23.Homer Newland
24.Benny Parsons
25.Dick Dunlevy
26.Elmer Davis
27.Leon Van Atta
28.Daniel Warlick

Friday, February 19, 2021

1978 – Bobby Allison Wins at Daytona

Bobby Allison celebrates winning the 1978 Daytona 500, the first of three victories in "The Great American Race."

Daytona, Fla. (February 19, 1978) – Earthy ‘ol Bud Moore must have had extrasensory perception.

“The sun doesn’t shine on the same dog’s fanny all the time,” the salty master mechanic from Spartanburg, S.C. said a week ago while mulling a question about a combined 118-race non-winning streak shared by him and veteran stock car driver Bobby Allison. “Me and Bobby are gonna get our turn one of these days.”

That occasion came no later than Sunday for new “Bud and Bobby Show.” The two basked their backsides considerably, like a couple of puppies out in the sun, by winning the sport’s biggest race, a Daytona 500 that was as bizarre as any in the event’s 20-year history.

Among the day’s developments –

· Three of stock car racing’s biggest stars – Richard Petty, David Pearson and Darrell Waltrip – all went out in a wild tangle while running away from the rest of the field.

· A.J. Foyt, the only man to win the Indianapolis 500 four times, took a scary, flipping ride down the front stretch and was hospitalized overnight for observation.

· Buddy Baker, who came within a few miles winning here so frequently, saw victory hopes dashed again when his Oldsmobile engine expired just five laps from the finish after he had led more laps – 75 – than any other competitor.

When Baker’s car blew, it meant Allison was home free to put Moore’s Thunderbird in victory lane, the first time that model has been there on NASCAR’s Winston Cup circuit since 1959.

Defending champion Cale Yarborough, who assumed the runner-up position after Baker exited, was experiencing engine issues with his Olds 442 and couldn’t threaten.

Allison thus cruised to a 33.2-second margin over the only other driver on the same lap with him on the 200th turn of the track that was jammed with a crowd estimated to be anywhere between 120,000 to 140,000.

Benny Parson finished third in an Oldsmobile, edging a Ron Hutcherson-driven Buick by eight inches in a photo finish for that position. Dick Brooks piloted a Mercury to a fifth-place finish.

“We had our share of luck to get here today,” conceded Allison, savoring victory for the first time since winning at Darlington in 1975.

The triumph was worth $56,300 to the Moore-Allison combo from a record purse of $457,000. The 40-year-old father of four took the Thunderbird around at an average speed of 159.730 miles per hour. He led five times for a total of 28 laps.

Results –

1. Bobby Allison
2. Cale Yarborough
3. Benny Parson
4. Ron Hutcherson
5. Dick Brooks
6. Dave Marcis
7. Buddy Baker
8. Bill Elliot
9. Ferrell Harris
10.Lennie Pond
11.Tighe Scott
12.Skip Manning
13.Richard Childress
14.Grant Adcox
15.Roger Hamby
16.Buddy Arrington
17.D.K. Ulrich
18.Dick May
19.Roland Wlodyka
20.Jerry Jolly
21.Cecil Gordon
22.Claude Ballot-Lena
23.Jimmy Lee Capps
24.Frank Warren
25.Tom Gale
26.Coo Coo Marlin
27.Neil Bonnett
28.Darrell Waltrip
29.Al Holbert
30.J.D. McDuffie
31.Joe Mihalic 
32.A.J. Foyt
33.Richard Petty
34.David Pearson
35.Jimmy Means
36.Ervin Wangerin
37.Ricky Rudd
38.Jim Vandiver
39.Donnie Allison
40.Morgan Shepherd
41.Harry Gant