Thursday, July 27, 2017

"NASCAR Legend" Stick Elliott Born - July 27, 1934

July 27, 1934 - November 1, 1980
Stick Elliott
(Photo; thirdturn.wikia.com)
Home; Shelby, North Carolina, USA.
Named Gene Daves, aka Stick Elliott after his Grandfather whom was a railroad security officer raised him in Lawndale NC. He would take little Gene with him to work. The hobos on the trains would see Mr Elliott coming & say, "here comes that big man with that big stick, & he has that 'little stick' with him ". Thus the nickname "Stick'.

A true master of the dirt, he sold all his land and belongings in the early 60`s to go NASCAR racing and when he came back to the local dirt scene, terrorized the area with 106 wins in the Toy Bolton #18 55 Chevy & was asked by Ralph Earnhardt to drive his # 8 Chevelle while Ralph recoverd from a heart attack. The two later became teammates, but would spin each other out if given the chance, leaving the fans in a frenzy.

It is said that Dale Earnhardt picked up a lot of his driving style from "The Big Stick". Before his death, Dale was known to tell tales of his short track battles with Stick, and some of those Friday & Saturday night battles as Stick was the man to beat any night when a young Dale Earnhardt was running the dirt tracks.

In 1962, at the age of 27, Elliott made his debut in the NASCAR Grand National Division driving Toy Bolton’s No. 18 Ford at Concord Speedway. Elliott’s debut in the bigs did not work out like he had dreamed as he was eliminated from competition on lap 48 after being collected in a crash. He was credited with a 17th place finish and collected $33. Two months later, Elliott recorded a eighth-place finish in the Greenville 200 at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. He recorded a seventh-pace finish in the Dixie 400 at Atlanta International Raceway. He closed the 1962 NASCAR Grand National season with 21 starts in the 53-event season and charted two top-ten finishes.

In 1963, Elliott competed in 28 of the years 55 NASCAR Grand National events. He finished sixth in the Nashville 400 at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway driving Toy Bolton’s No. 18 Pontiac. Despite 14 DNFs, Elliott recorded seven top-tens.

In 1964, equipment failures marked Elliott’s seven Grand National starts. Mechanical failures caused him DNFs in all seven events. 1965 was not much better as he made 15 starts and suffered through ten DNFs. When the equipment held up, Elliott ran up front. He finished second in the Pickens 200 at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, fourth in the 200-lap event at Valdosta Speedway, and seventh in the Southern 500 at Darlington.

1966 was another season of the frustration of mechanical failures. Elliott started 19 NASCAR Grand National events and had 13 DNFs. He had a fourth place finish in the Pickens 200, and eighth place finishes in the Fireball 300 at Asheville-Weaverville Speedway and in the Volunteer 500 at Bristol.

Elliott made only one event in the 1967 season, the World 600 at Charlotte. He recorded a 14th place finish in Bolton’s No. 47 Chevrolet. His final appearance in NASCAR Winston Cup Series competition came in 1971. He made two starts that year driving O. L. Nixon’s No. 31 Dodge. Mechanical failure dropped him out of the National 500 at Charlotte, and he finished 20th in the American 500 at Rockingham.

Despite a lack of funding and inferior equipment, Stick Elliott made 93 starts in seven years in NASCAR’s premier division and recorded three top-fives and 15 top-tens. Elliott continued to compete on the North Carolina dirt tracks on into the 1980s driving O.L. Nixon’s No. 57 Chevrolet Malibu and Camaro. He earned a reputation over his career as a hard-nosed racer who did not mind using his front bumper to move someone out of his way.

Stick Elliott died November 1, 1980 from a little known disease, Cryptoccocal Meningitis, from dust in the dirt that was delivered to his yard that was taken from a chicken farm. Humans are exposed to it everyday and there is no known cure & no reason why more don`t get it. It remains a puzzle how such a big man coud be struck down in his prime by such a little known virus.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Three Race Fans Killed During "U.S. 500" At MIS - July 26, 1998

July 26, 1998
The U.S. 500, the most prestigious race in the Championship Auto Racing Teams series, dissolves into tragedy on this day in 1998, when three fans are killed and six others wounded by flying debris from a car at Michigan Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan.

While rounding the fourth turn, driver Adrian Fernandez lost control of his car and crashed into one of the raceway’s retaining walls. The car broke apart, and the right front tire and part of the suspension flew over the 15-foot-high wall and into the stands. Traveling nearly 200 mph, the debris hit fans in the eighth and 10th rows. Two people were killed instantly, another died moments later, and six others received minor injuries. To the outrage of Sports Illustrated reporter Rick Reilly, who wrote a scathing editorial about the incident in the magazine, race officials didn’t stop the event, which was won by the young Canadian driver Greg Moore. In August 1998, Michigan Speedway announced that it would extend the protective fencing around all of its grandstand sections to a total of around 17 feet in an effort to prevent further accidents.

"Midget & Sprint Hall Of Famer" Rich Vogler Born - July 26, 1950

July 26, 1950 - July 21, 1990
Richard Vogler
(Photo; richvoglerscholarship.org)
Born in Chicago, Illinois, USA.
He was nicknamed "Rapid Rich". He competed in the Indianapolis 500 five times, and his best finish was eighth in 1989.

Vogler was the National Alliance of Midget Auto Racing midget champion in 1973. He won the midget car track championships at the Indianapolis Speedrome in 1984 and 1985. He won the Fireman Nationals midget car race at Angell Park Speedway in 1985. In 1980, Vogler became the first driver to win the USAC Sprint Car and Midget championships in the same year. He won USAC National Sprint Car Series championships in 1980 and 1989, USAC National Midget Series championships in 1978, 1980, 1983, 1986, and 1988.

Vogler won numerous major national events: the Hut Hundred eight times, the 4-Crown Nationals midget car event four times, the Copper Classic twice, the Hoosierdome Invitational twice, the WWRA Florida Winter Nationals in 1983, and the Night Before the 500 once. In 1987 he won the inaugural Chili Bowl Midget Nationals race.

Vogler finished seventeenth in his only NASCAR Busch Series start at the North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham in 1988.

His 134 wins (95 Midget, 35 Sprint, and four Silver Crown wins) in national events is second only to A. J. Foyt's 169. Vogler had 170 total USAC wins, and won over 200 "outlaw" midget races.

Days before his 40th birthday, Vogler was competing in a nationally broadcast ESPN Thunder Joe James/Pat O'Connor Memorial sprint car event at Salem Speedway. He was leading the race at the time, when his car crashed with just over a lap to go. Vogler's helmet flew off of his head and he suffered severe head injuries that proved to be fatal. Because of USAC rules on a red flag reverting to the previous completed lap, he was declared the winner of the event following his death, which was his 170th win. He was scheduled to make his NASCAR Winston Cup series debut at Pocono Raceway the day after his fatal crash. He was awarded a 40th-place finish as a "Did Not Start".

The Pocono race was not his first attempted NASCAR Winston Cup start. Two weeks before, he entered the Michigan race but failed to qualify.

His mother Eleanor started a college scholarship fund for aspiring Indiana students as part of Rich's concern over his sons, and the fund was started by USAC officials and sponsor Valvoline.

The first major fund-raiser for the fund has been a Daytona 500 viewing party in Indianapolis, today well-attended with a silent auction and notable names in auto racing in the state as guests. Usually, his mother and his sons appear at the annual fund-raiser. In 2008, the viewing party was moved to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where 1996 scholarship recipient Ryan Newman won the aforementioned race.
(Photo; richvoglerscholarship.org)
Eleanor Vogler with Ryan Newman.

In April 1991, Winchester Speedway began the annual season-opening Rich Vogler Classic sprint car race, usually the first race at the track each year.

There is also a Team Vogler classic at the Indianapolis Speedrome. His father Donald Vogler died in a midget car accident at the Indianapolis Speedrome on May 1, 1981.

Vogler was inducted in the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1986, the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2010.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Renault/Elf Teammates Arnoux, Prost 1-2 In "Grand Prix of France" - July 25, 1982

July 25, 1982
Rene Arnoux, and Renault/Elf teammate Alain Prost, finished first and second in the "Grand Prix of France", at Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, France. Next across the finish line were the Ferrari's of Didier Pironi and Patrick Tambay in third and fourth, followed by the Williams of Keke Rosberg in fifth. Michele Alboreto grabbed the final point position in a Tyrrell.

Nelson Piquet Jr Born in Heidelberg, Germany - July 25, 1985

July 25, 1985
Nelson Piquet Jr
Born in Heidelberg, Germany.
The son of three-time Formula One world champion Nelson Piquet, he was signed as test driver for Renault Formula One team for the 2007 season, and was promoted to the race team for 2008, before being dropped midway through the 2009 season. After losing his drive, it emerged that he had, under instruction from senior members of the team, crashed deliberately at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix to help his teammate, Fernando Alonso, win the race. The resulting scandal became one of the most significant in the sport's history.

After Formula One Piquet tried his hand at NASCAR between 2010 - 2014. On June 23, 2012, Piquet scored his first victory in NASCAR competition, winning the Nationwide Series Sargento 200 at Road America, becoming the first Brazilian driver to win a NASCAR national touring series event.

On August 18, 2012, Piquet won his first race in the Camping World Truck Series at Michigan. On lap 56 of the race he spun out racing Kurt Busch after a restart. The team pitted under the caution and it allowed them to use fuel strategy later in the race to obtain their first win of the season. On September 29, 2012, Piquet won his second career Camping World Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

He currently competes in Formula E where he was champion in the 2014-15, and also races a Rebellion R-One LMP1 in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

John Gunn Born In Yanceyville, North Carolina - July 25, 1939

July 25, 1939 - July 7, 2010
Johnnie Oliver Gunn, Jr
(Photo; myf5000.com)
Born in Yanceyville, North Carolina, USA.
John graduated from Bartlett Yancey High School and was interested in motor sports from the start. This may have come partly as a result of his father being the Ford dealer in Yanceyville. Johnnie had a very distinctive Ford coupe and was the local daredevil.

Gunn grew up near Virginia International Raceway and was a spectator at the inaugural event in August, 1957. His racing career began while a student at the University of Miami in an Alfa Romeo that carried him to two SCCA divisional championships. He turned pro in 1968 by entering the SCCA Formula A Continental series and became a regular for the entire life of the championship. Also in 1968, Gunn co-drove to first in the Sports category, eighth overall at the Daytona 24-Hours; finished second in the under-2-liter class at the Sebring Trans-Am race and tied for first place in the Southeast Division’s Formula A (5000) class.

After his second season he returned to VIR at the conclusion of the 1969 pro races to enter the September SCCA Nationals. In his Lola T-142 he set the final overall lap record for the original course at 2:06.3. He later was a regular entrant there in Can Am and IMSA events.

Gunn raced primarily in the Can Am and Formula 5000 series, but also spent time endurance racing in Alfa Romeo’s and Ferrari’s. In the Seventies, he raced the mighty Porsche 934/935 before switching to closed cockpit Phoenix cars in IMSA racing. Gunn remained involved with these cars until 1989.

John Gunn raced a variety of cars including a Lola T-140, Eagle F-5000, Surtees TS-5, Lola T-300, Lola T-260, March 73A, Lola T-332, Lola T-333, and his own Phoenix Camel GT/Can Am II creation. He often race as he said "a low buck" privateer, financing his racing operations with his own racing equipment company, Gunn's Goodies. Many fans remember John Gunn for his tenacious battles against the teams that had far deeper pockets.
Among his memorable moments was leading the first center seat Can-Am race at Mount Tremblant in 1977, but a spin in the waning laps caused him to finish second. Or the time he smoked everyone for the F5000 pole at Lime Rock in 1972, in his Lola T300.

Having battled heart problems, John Gunn passed away in his sleep July 7, 2010, at his home in Palm City, Florida.

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Carrie Jo Neal Dies In Bizarre Accident - July 25, 1997

 July 25, 1997
Carrie Jo Neal
In a bizarre accident, Neal's car shot forward at the end of performing her burnout, reaching a speed of 200 MPH when she crashed. Some thought it might have been caused by a stuck throttle, but others weren't convinced. What is puzzling is why she didn't hit the kill switch, flip the fuel shut-off switch, or deploy the parachute. Although she was a beginner in the sport, she was well prepared. No consensus or satisfactory explanation for the cause of the crash was reached although NHRA claimed it was a stuck throttle. She lived in Poway, California, and was a computer software tester.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Johnny O'Connell Born In Poughkeepsie, New York - July 24, 1962

July 24, 1962
Johnny O'Connell
(Photo; johnnyoconnell.com)
Born in Poughkeepsie, New York, USA.
Johnny is the most successful GM factory racing driver from the United States. He currently drives for Cadillac in the Pirelli World Challenge, winning the 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 GT driver's championship.

O'Connell started racing in the Formula Atlantic series in 1987, winning the Championship and Rookie of the Year. He also spent 1996 in the Indy Racing League, racing in the Indianapolis 500 and finishing in the top 10 in half of his 4 starts. He has seven class wins in the 12 Hours of Sebring, more than any other driver, and an overall title in 1994 when racing for Nissan. Driving for Corvette Racing, he has also won a number of class victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 24 Hours of Daytona. With his teammate Ron Fellows he won the 2003 GTS class driver's championship.

O'Connell was also featured in Chevy's 2007, Super Bowl ad, "Ain't We Got Love" also featuring Mary J. Blige, rapper T.I., Big & Rich, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

In 2013, O'Connell competed in the Johnsonville Sausage 200 at Road America in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports, driving the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro, he finished 12th.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

"Former Driver & Constructor" Jim Hall Born - July 23, 1935

July 23, 1935
 Jim Hall
Born in Abilene, Texas, USA.
Jim is a former racecar driver and constructor. He competed in Formula One from 1960 to 1963, participating in 12 World Championship Grands Prix and numerous non-Championship races. He scored three World Championship points.

Hall's special place in motorsports history came as the result of him being the "motivating force" and part owner, with Hap Sharp, of Chaparral Cars. Based in Hall's hometown of Midland, Texas, during the 1960s, in the United States Road Racing Championship, and later in the Can-Am, Chaparral cars were the most innovative cars in racing. Hall was a very early adopter of aerodynamics applied to race cars and was the leading proponent of that technology for an entire decade. He had a sabbatical in the early 1970s, racing in several SCCA Trans-Am Series races.

Hall's Chaparral Cars team came back to prominence in the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) series, including two wins in the Indianapolis 500 in 1978 and 1980; the latter with the first of the ground effect cars to be raced in the event. He would later turn to using off-the-shelf racecars to race in his Indycar team which was renamed Jim Hall Racing until 1996, when he retired from racing altogether.

Hall now resides in Midland, remaining active in the oil and gas business, and motorsports racing legacies.

(Photo; chaparralcars.com)
An entire wing portrays the saga of Hall and Chaparral Cars at the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum in Midland.

His son, Jim Hall, Jr., resides in California and operates the Jim Hall Kart Racing School.


John Cordts Born In Hamburg, Germany - July 23, 1935

July 23, 1935
John Cordts
(Photo; www.wheels.ca)
Born in Hamburg, Germany.
John emigrated from Germany to Sweden at the age of two with his family, and then to Canada and settled in North Bay, Ont.

Cordts participated in one Formula One World Championship Grand Prix, the 1969 Canadian Grand Prix on September 20, 1969. He qualified 19th, but retired his Brabham after 10 laps with an oil leak, while lying 16th.

In addition to his Formula One appearance, Cordts had been successful in Canadian and U.S. sports car racing, particularly with various McLarens run by Dave Billes's Performance Engineering. He competed in many events, ranging from Harewood Acres, where he still holds the track record when it closed in 1970, Mosport, Mont-Tremblant, and Westwood in Canada to various tracks in the US and even Japan. He later became a regular participant in the CanAm series, in which he raced until 1974, mainly in McLarens and Lolas. His best Can-Am finish was second at Road America in 1974. He was also known for his participation in the SCCA Trans-Am Series, where he had, at one point, piloted a BF Goodrich-sponsored Pontiac Firebird, known as the "Tirebird" and also several FIA events with the Greenwood Corvette team.

Cordt has since retired to a private life in Western Canada where he is well known for his beautiful wood carvings and recently wrote his autobiography entitled "Blood, Sweat and Turnips".

Saturday, July 22, 2017

"Broadcaster & Former Driver" Calvin Fish Born - July 22, 1961

July 22, 1961
Calvin Fish
Born in Norwich, England.
Fish began his career in karts at 13. He then moved to Formula Ford in 1979 at age 18 and then British Formula Three. He then came to the United States and competed in various classes of SCCA competition as well as IMSA GT. He was the 1987 Formula Atlantic champion and then made 14 starts in the Indy Lights series. He returned to sports cars. He was the GTO class winner at the 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Daytona in 1990.

Calvin is featured in all editions of the Ayrton Senna story. Fish and Senna were fierce rivals in the junior formulae in the UK. Both had the utmost respect for each other, hence, the acknowledgment of Fish in any of the books written about Senna. Fish is one of the few drivers to beat Senna in F3 and F2000.

He is currently an analyst announcer for the Fox Sports 1 in the US and covers such series as the United SportsCar Championship.

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"4-Time Indy-Car Champ" Scott Dixon Born - July 22, 1980

July 22, 1980
Scott Dixon
Born in Brisbane, Australia.
 Competing for Chip Ganassi Racing since joining IndyCar, Dixon has won the championship in 2003, 2008, 2013, and 2015, and he won the 92nd Indianapolis 500 in 2008 from pole position. With 41 wins, Dixon is the leading non-U.S. driver in American Championship Cars, and is the leading active driver in the current IndyCar Series with 40 wins.

He was selected in a worldwide poll among fans as one of the 33 greatest drivers in Indianapolis 500 history. Among other notable awards won by Dixon are the Jim Clark Trophy (1999, 2001, 2004) and the Bruce McLaren Trophy (2003, 2008). In 2012 he was appointed Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and was New Zealand's Sportsman of the Year in 2008 and 2013. In July 2013, Autosport magazine named Dixon one of the 50 greatest drivers to have never raced in Formula One.

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Friday, July 21, 2017

"Hall Of Famer" Rich Vogler Dies In Crash - July 21, 1990

July 26, 1950 - July 21, 1990
Richard Vogler
(Photo; richvoglerscholarship.org)
Born in Chicago, Illinois, USA.
He was nicknamed "Rapid Rich". He competed in the Indianapolis 500 five times, and his best finish was eighth in 1989. Vogler finished seventeenth in his only NASCAR Busch Series start at the North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham in 1988. He was scheduled to make his NASCAR Winston Cup series debut at Pocono Raceway the day after his fatal crash. He was awarded a 40th-place finish as a "Did Not Start".

Vogler was the National Alliance of Midget Auto Racing midget champion in 1973. He won the midget car track championships at the Indianapolis Speedrome in 1984 and 1985. He won the Fireman Nationals midget car race at Angell Park Speedway in 1985. In 1980, Vogler became the first driver to win the USAC Sprint Car and Midget championships in the same year. He won USAC National Sprint Car Series championships in 1980 and 1989, USAC National Midget Series championships in 1978, 1980, 1983, 1986, and 1988.

Vogler won numerous major national events: the Hut Hundred eight times, the 4-Crown Nationals midget car event four times, the Copper Classic twice, the Hoosierdome Invitational twice, the WWRA Florida Winter Nationals in 1983, and the Night Before the 500 once. In 1987 he won the inaugural Chili Bowl Midget Nationals race.

His 134 wins (95 Midget, 35 Sprint, and four Silver Crown wins) in national events is second only to A. J. Foyt's 169. Vogler had 170 total USAC wins, and won over 200 "outlaw" midget races.

Days before his 40th birthday, Vogler was competing in a nationally broadcast ESPN Thunder Joe James/Pat O'Connor Memorial sprint car event at Salem Speedway. He was leading the race at the time, when his car crashed with just over a lap to go. Vogler's helmet flew off of his head and he suffered severe head injuries that proved to be fatal. Because of USAC rules on a red flag reverting to the previous completed lap, he was declared the winner of the event following his death, which was his 170th win.

His mother Eleanor started a college scholarship fund for aspiring Indiana students as part of Rich's concern over his sons, and the fund was started by USAC officials and sponsor Valvoline.

The first major fund-raiser for the fund has been a Daytona 500 viewing party in Indianapolis, today well-attended with a silent auction and notable names in auto racing in the state as guests. Usually, his mother and his sons appear at the annual fund-raiser. In 2008, the viewing party was moved to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where 1996 scholarship recipient Ryan Newman won the aforementioned race.
(Photo; richvoglerscholarship.org)
Eleanor Vogler with Ryan Newman.

In April 1991, Winchester Speedway began the annual season-opening Rich Vogler Classic sprint car race, usually the first race at the track each year.

There is also a Team Vogler classic at the Indianapolis Speedrome. His father Donald Vogler died in a midget car accident at the Indianapolis Speedrome on May 1, 1981.

Vogler was inducted in the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1986, the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2010.

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"First 3-Time Indy 500 Winner" Louis Meyer Born - July 21, 1904

July 21, 1904 – October 7, 1995
Louis Meyer
Born in Manhattan, New York, USA.
Meyer was raised in Los Angeles, where he began automobile racing at various California tracks. He went on to become the first-ever driver to win the Indianapolis 500 three times, capturing the prestigious race as a rookie starter in 1928, then again in 1933 and 1936. Louis Meyer started the tradition of drinking milk in victory lane at the 1933 Indianapolis 500 race, when he drank a glass of milk. Following his 1936 Indianapolis 500 victory, he drank from a glass milk bottle instead, as most race winners have done since. Following the suggestion of former race winner, Tommy Milton, that year he became the first driver to receive the Pace Car as part of the race winnings. Louis Meyer won the United States National Driving Championship in 1928, 1929 and 1933.

Meyer's wife June did not even know he was racing in the 1928 Indianapolis 500. Earlier in the day she was in Pennsylvania picking up a wrecked car and after that went to see her brother-in-law Eddie Meyer race in Reading. She found out about her husbands victory after the track announcer in Reading asked the crowd to give a big hand to Eddie Meyer, the brother of the Indianapolis 500 winner.

Louis Meyer died on October 7, 1995 in Searchlight, Nevada, aged 91, where he had been living in retirement since 1972. He was interred at Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California.

Meyer's son Louis (Sonny) Meyer, Jr. assisted him in engine work at his race shops, and worked on the various DOHC Ford engines in USAC racing, including building 15 Indianapolis 500-winning engines. Grandson Louis III (Butch) built Oldsmobile Aurora engines for Team Menard in Indy Racing League IndyCar Series competition, winning the 1996-97 and 1999 championships before becoming the current Indy Pro Series director.

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