Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Jarett Andretti Born In Indianapolis, Indiana - December 13, 1992

December 13, 1992
Jarett Andretti
Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
He is the son of former CART and NASCAR driver John Andretti and the grandson of Aldo. He is the grandnephew of legend Mario Andretti, a Formula One, IndyCar, and Daytona 500 champion. His cousin, Marco, drives on the IndyCar circuit, and his second cousin, Michael, is a former CART driver and the owner of Andretti Autosport.

Carrying on and continuing the family tradition, he has steadily progressed in several series, including winning championships in go-karts and the USAC Eastern Ignite Pavement Series. He was the 2012 Oswego Speedway Supermodified Rookie of the Year. In 2013, he competed part-time in Sprint Cars and Silver Crown Cars, earning the Lawrenceburg Speedway Sprint Car Rookie of the Year

In 2014, he raced for Michael’s Andretti Autosport Short Track subsidiary, making him a third-generation racer. Andretti drove the Superior Auto Sprint Car in all Midwest USAC races and was also behind the wheel of the No.4 Window World Silver Crown car on pavement and the No.14 McQuinn Silver Crown car at all of the dirt track Silver Crown races.

In February 2015, Andretti Autosport Short Track announced that Window World would return as a primary sponsor of Jarett for the 2015 season. The team will enter a Window World car in 17 USAC Sprint Car races and also the complete USAC Silver Crown pavement schedule. Andretti's 2015 season, which will include over 50 races across the country in Sprint Car and Silver Crown competition.

"2-Time Indy 500 Winner" Bill Vukovich Sr. Born - December 13, 1918

December 13, 1918 - May 30, 1955
Bill Vukovich Sr
Born in in Fresno, California, USA.
Before he began Indy racing, Vukovich drove midget cars for the Edelbrock dirt track racing team. He raced on the West Coast of the United States in the URA, and won the series' 1945 and 1946 midget car championships. Vukovich won the 1948 Turkey Night Grand Prix at Gilmore Stadium, and six of the last eight races at the stadium track before it was closed for good. He won the 1950 AAA National Midget championship.

In 1952, his sophomore year in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's 500-Mile Race, he quickly moved up from his starting position in the middle of the third row to take the lead, and led 150 laps in dominant fashion before suffering steering failure on the 192nd of the 200 laps. He returned to win the race in consecutive years, 1953 and 1954. He led an astounding 71.7% of laps that he drove in competition at the track, and remains the only driver ever to lead the most laps in the race three consecutive years.

Vukovich was killed in a chain-reaction crash while holding a 17-second lead on the 57th lap of the 1955 Indianapolis 500. He was exiting the second turn, trailing three slower cars—driven by Rodger Ward, Al Keller, and Johnny Boyd—when Ward's car swerved as the result of a gust of wind. Keller, swerving into the infield to avoid Ward, lost control and slid back onto the track, striking Boyd's car and pushing it into Vukovich's path. Vukovich's car struck Boyd's, became airborne, and landed upside down after going over the outside backstretch retaining wall and somersaulting four-and-a-half times, bursting into flames. As the car burned Ed Elisian stopped his undamaged car and raced towards Vukovich in an attempt to save him. But it didn't matter as Vukovich perished instantly in the accident.

Vukovich was the second defending Indy 500 champion to die during the race, following Floyd Roberts in 1939, and the only former winner to have been killed while leading. Roberts' car was also thrown over the backstretch fence after exiting the second turn in his fatal accident. Since the 1955 race was counted as part of the Formula One World Championship, Vukovich is also the first driver to be killed during a World Championship race.

He was known variously as "Vuky" and "The Mad Russian" for his intense driving style, as well as the "Silent Serb" for his cool demeanor. Several drivers of his generation have referred to Vukovich as the greatest ever encountered in American motorsport. Vukovich was inducted in the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1990. He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1991 and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1992.

His son, Bill Vukovich II, and his grandson, Bill Vukovich III, also competed in the Indianapolis 500, with Vukovich II taking second in 1973, and Vukovich III being named Rookie of the Year in 1988.

The Wendell Scott Story

August 29, 1921 - December 23, 1990
Wendell Oliver Scott
(Photo; "WendellScottRetiredNASCARDriver" by Source.)
Born in Danville, Virginia, USA.
From boyhood, he wanted to be his own boss. In Danville, two industries dominated the local economy: cotton mills and tobacco-processing plants. Scott vowed to avoid that sort of boss-dominated life. He began learning auto mechanics from his father, who worked as a driver and mechanic for two well-to-do white families. Scott raced bicycles against white boys. In his neighborhood, he said, "I was the only black boy that had a bicycle." He became a daredevil on roller skates, speeding down Danville's steep hills on one skate. He dropped out of high school, became a taxi driver, married Mary Coles and served in the segregated Army in Europe during World War II.

After the war, he ran an auto-repair shop. As a sideline, he took up the dangerous, illegal pursuit of running moonshine whiskey. This trade gave quite a few early stock car racers such as Junior Johnson and Big Bill France their education in building fast cars and outrunning the police. The police caught Scott only once, in 1949. Sentenced to three years probation, he continued making his late-night whiskey runs. On weekends, he would go to the stock car races in Danville, sitting in the blacks-only section of the bleachers, and he would wish that he too could be racing on the speedway.

The Danville races were run by the Dixie Circuit, one of several regional racing organizations that competed with NASCAR during that era. Danville's events always made less money than the Dixie Circuit's races at other tracks. "We were a tobacco and textile town, people didn't have the money to spend," said Aubrey Ferrell, one of the organizers. The officials decided they would try an unusual, and unprecedented, promotional gimmick: They would recruit a Negro driver to compete against the "good ol' boys." To their credit, they wanted a fast black driver, not just a fall guy to look foolish. They asked the Danville police who the best Negro driver in town was. The police recommended the moonshine runner whom they had chased many times and caught only once. Scott brought one of his whiskey-running cars to the next race, and on May 23, 1952, Southern stock car racing gained its first black driver. Some spectators booed him, and his car broke down during the race. But Scott realized immediately that he wanted a career as a driver.

The next day, however, brought the first of many episodes of discrimination that would plague his racing career. Scott repaired his car and towed it to a NASCAR-sanctioned race in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. But the NASCAR officials refused to let him compete. Black drivers were not allowed, they said. As he drove home, Scott recalled, "I had tears in my eyes." A few days later he went to another NASCAR event in High Point, North Carolina. Again, Scott said, the officials "just flat told me I couldn't race. They told me I could let a white boy drive my car. I told 'em weren't no damn white boy going to drive my car." Scott decided to avoid NASCAR for the time being and race with the Dixie Circuit and at other non-NASCAR speedways. He won his first race at Lynchburg, Virginia, only twelve days into his racing career. It was just a short heat race in the amateur class, but for Scott, the victory was like a barb on a hook. He knew that he had found his calling.

He ran as many as five events a week, mostly at Virginia tracks. Some spectators would shout racial slurs, but many others began rooting for him. Some prejudiced drivers would wreck him deliberately. They "just hammered on Wendell," former chief NASCAR photographer T. Taylor Warren said. "They figured he wasn't going to retaliate." And they were right, Scott felt that because of the racial atmosphere, he could not risk becoming involved in the fist-fights and dirty-driving paybacks that frequently took place among the white drivers.

Many other drivers, however, came to respect Scott. They saw his skills as a mechanic and driver, and they liked his quiet, uncomplaining manner. They saw him as someone similar to themselves, another hard-working blue-collar guy swept up in the adrenalin rush of racing, not somebody trying to make a racial point. Some white drivers became his close friends and also occasionally acted as his bodyguards. Some Southern newspapers began writing positive stories about Scott's performance. He began the 1953 season on the northern Virginia circuit, for example, by winning a feature race in Staunton. Then he tied the Waynesboro qualifying record. A week later he won the Waynesboro feature, after placing first in his heat race and setting a new qualifying record.

Scott understood, though, that to rise in the sport, he somehow had to gain admission to the all-white ranks of NASCAR. He did not know NASCAR's celebrated founder and president, Bill France, who ran the organization like a czar. Instead, Scott found a way, essentially, to slip into NASCAR through a side door, without the knowledge or consent of anyone at NASCAR's Daytona Beach headquarters. He towed his racecar to a local NASCAR event at the old Richmond Speedway, a quarter-mile dirt oval, and asked the steward, Mike Poston, to grant him a NASCAR license. Poston, a part-timer, was not a powerful figure in NASCAR's hierarchy, but he did have the authority to issue licenses. He asked Scott if he knew what he was getting into, that NASCAR had never had any black drivers, and he was going to be knocked around. Scott responded "I can take it." Poston approved Scott's license. Later he confided to Scott that officials at NASCAR headquarters had not been pleased with his decision.

Scott met Bill France for the first time in April 1954. The night before, Scott said, the promoter at a NASCAR event in Raleigh, North Carolina, had given gas money to all of the white drivers who came to the track but refused to pay Scott anything. Scott said he approached France in the pits at the Lynchburg speedway and told him what had happened. Even though France and the Raleigh promoter were friends, Scott said France immediately pulled some money out of his pocket and assured Scott that NASCAR would never treat him with prejudice, that he was a NASCAR member, and as of now will always be treated as a NASCAR member. Instead of the fifteen dollars received by the other drivers, France gave him thirty.

Scott won dozens of races during his nine years in regional-level competition. His driving talent, his skill as a mechanic and his hard work earned him the admiration of thousands of white fans and many of his fellow racers, despite the racial prejudice that was widespread during the 1950s. In 1959 he won two championships. NASCAR awarded him the championship title for drivers of sportsman-class stock cars in the state of Virginia, and he also won the track championship in the sportsman class at Richmond's Southside Speedway. Even at this early stage of his racing, Scott would tell friends privately that his goal was to win races at the top level of NASCAR. For the rest of his career he would pursue a dream whose fulfillment depended heavily upon whether France backed up that promise.

In 1961, he moved up to Grand National. In the 1963 season, he finished 15th in points, and on December 1 of that year, driving a Chevrolet Bel Air that he purchased from Ned Jarrett, he won a race on the half-mile dirt track at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Florida, the first Grand National event won by an African-American. Scott passed Richard Petty, who was driving an ailing car, with 25 laps remaining for the win. Scott was not announced as the winner of the race at the time, presumably due to the racist culture of the time. Buck Baker, the second-place driver, was initially declared the winner, but race officials discovered two hours later that Scott had not only won, but was two laps in front of the rest of the field. NASCAR awarded Scott the win two years later, but his family never actually received the trophy he had earned until 2010, 47 years after the race, and 20 years after Scott had died.

He continued to be a competitive driver despite his low-budget operation through the rest of the 1960s. In 1964, Scott finished 12th in points despite missing several races. Over the next five years, Scott consistently finished in the top ten in the point standings. He finished 11th in points in 1965, was a career-high 6th in 1966, 10th in 1967, and finished 9th in both 1968 and 1969. His top year in winnings was 1969 when he won $47,451.

Scott was forced to retire due to injuries from a racing accident at Talladega, Alabama in 1973. He achieved one win and 147 top ten finishes in 495 career Grand National starts.
He was posthumously inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2015. He had also been inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.

Scott died on December 23, 1990 in Danville, Virginia, having suffered from spinal cancer.


(Photo; "Wendell Scott 34 Chevrolet NASCAR Hall of Fame" by Mike Kalasnik)
A 1962 Chevrolet built by Scott for the movie Greased Lightning on display at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The film Greased Lightning, starring Richard Pryor as Scott, was loosely based on Scott's biography.

Mojo Nixon, a fellow Danville native, wrote a tribute song titled "The Ballad of Wendell Scott", which appears on Nixon and Skid Roper's 1986 album, Frenzy.

Scott has a street named after him in his hometown of Danville.

Only six other black drivers are known to have started at least one race in what is now the Sprint Cup Series: Elias Bowie, Charlie Scott, George Wiltshire, Randy Bethea, Willy T. Ribbs and, most recently, Bill Lester, who made the field for races at Atlanta and Michigan in 2006. Those drivers have made a combined nine Cup starts.

As reported in the Washington Post filmmaker John W. Warner began directing a documentary about Scott, titled The Wendell Scott Story, which was to be released in 2003 with narration by the filmmaker's father, former U.S. Senator John Warner but instead Warner created a four set DVD entitled "American Stock: The Golden Era of NASCAR: 1936-to-1971" which documents many racers including Scott. The film included interviews with fellow race-car drivers, including Richard Petty.

Scott is prominently featured in the 1975 book The World's Number One, Flat-Out, All-Time Great Stock Car Racing Book, written by Jerry Bledsoe.

In January 2013, Scott was awarded his own historical marker in Danville, Virginia. The marker's statement “Persevering over prejudice and discrimination, Scott broke racial barriers in NASCAR, with a 13-year career that included 20 top five and 147 top ten finishes.”

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Emerson Fittipaldi Born In Sao Paulo, Brazil - December 12, 1946

December 12, 1946
Emerson Fittipaldi
Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
He is a 2-time Formula One World Champion, 2-time "Indianapolis 500" winner and the 1989 CART Champion.

He is the youngest son of prominent Brazilian motorsports journalist and radio commentator Wilson Fittipaldi Sr. Both his parents had raced production cars shortly after the Second World War and Wilson Sr was also responsible for the first Mil Milhas race in 1956, in São Paulo, having been inspired by the 1949 Italian Mille Miglia. Emerson Fittipaldi is the younger brother of former Formula One driver and team owner Wilson Fittipaldi. He is the uncle of former Formula One, Champ Car, NASCAR and current Sports car driver Christian Fittipaldi.

Emerson became a motorsports enthusiast at an early age. When aged 14, Fittipaldi was racing motorcycles, and when aged 16, hydrofoils. While racing one day, his brother Wilson took off at 70 mph and landed upside down. Afterwards, they both decided that although he had survived, they would no longer race hydrofoils and moved onto racing karts.

The pair moved to racing Formula Vees, and started a company with their parents. In his second season in single-seaters, Fittipaldi won the Brazilian Formula Vee title at 21 years old. He left for Europe in 1969, with the ambition to convince team owners of his talent in three months. After some podiums and his first victories in Formula Ford, Fittipaldi was first trained and then subsequently engaged by the Jim Russell Driving School Formula Three team. He won nine Formula Three races driving a Jim Russell Lotus 59 to win the 1969 MCD Lombard Championship title.

For 1970, Fittipaldi moved up to Formula Two by joining the Lotus semi-works Team Bardahl driving a Lotus 59B. With six finishes in the points and four on the podium, he ended the season in 3rd place behind Clay Regazzoni and Derek Bell. Also that year, because of the success of Cosworth DFV and Lotus 49/49B in 1968, Team Lotus was enjoying the reputation as one of the top Formula One teams with the inflow of sponsorship money, and Colin Chapman used the 3rd seat on the team for championship races as the testing ground for younger drivers. Early in the season the third seat was given to Alex Soler-Roig and then to Fittipaldi starting with the British GP in July, with Jochen Rindt and John Miles as the regular seat holders. Fittipaldi scored a fourth place as the No.3 driver at the next German GP where the No.1 Jochen Rindt won, and the No.2 John Miles retired. Team Lotus plans for the season drastically changed when Jochen Rindt was killed at Monza in September and became the only driver to win the championship posthumously. John Miles also left the team, and Fittipaldi was promoted to be the Lotus No.1 driver on his fifth F1 race at the United States GP with Reine Wisell and Pete Lovely as the teammates. Fittipaldi proved up to the task and won this first post-Rindt race for Lotus.

In his first full year as Lotus' lead driver in 1971, Fittipaldi finished sixth in the drivers' championship as the team further developed the previous season's Lotus 72. Armed with what was arguably the greatest Formula one design of all time, the Lotus 72D, Fittipaldi proved dominant in 1972 as he won five of 11 races and easily won the F1 Drivers' Championship from Jackie Stewart by 16 points. At 25 he was then the youngest champion in F1 history. It appeared he might do it again in 1973. But after three wins from four attempts with the 72D, he began to struggle in the new 72E that was unveiled mid-year. It resulted in the reverse of the previous year, Stewart beating Fittipaldi for the Drivers Championship by 16 points; though the combination of the 72D and E's points earnings were enough to gain Team Lotus the 1973 F1 Manufacturers Championship.

Fittipaldi left Lotus to sign with the promising McLaren team. Driving the highly efficient McLaren M23, he had three victories in 1974, reached the podium four other times, and beat out Clay Regazzoni in a close battle for his second championship. The following season, he notched two more victories and four other podiums, but was second to a dominant Niki Lauda. However, at the height of his F1 success, Fittipaldi shocked everyone by leaving McLaren to race for older brother Wilson Fittipaldi's Copersucar-sponsored Fittipaldi Automotive team.

It was hardly a world-class organization and the double champion regularly struggled, failing to qualify in three races in his time there. Despite this, he remained with the team for five seasons but only managed a best finish of second. Emerson Fittipaldi decided to retire from racing at the end of 1980. He has since said that his last two years in Formula One were very unhappy: "I was too involved in the problems of trying to make the team work, and I neglected my marriage and my personal life", although at the time he cited the deaths of many of his colleagues as his reason. He was only 33, but had been racing in Formula One for a decade. He had failed to finish seven of the last ten races that year and had several times been outpaced by his Finnish teammate Keke Rosberg. He moved into the management of the team alongside his brother. The team struggled on for another two years with minimal sponsorship, going into receivership at the end of 1982.

 After leaving F1 in 1980, Fittipaldi took time out from major racing for four years, returning in 1984 in CART. The 38-year old spent his first season acclimatising to IndyCars, driving for two teams before joining Patrick Racing as an injury replacement. He stayed five years with the team, recording six victories and solid finishes in the overall standings. In 1989 he had five wins and finished in the top five in every race he completed, giving him a CART championship. Among his wins was a dominant performance in the 1989 Indianapolis 500 where he led 158 of 200 laps and won by two laps, but only after a dramatic duel with Al Unser, Jr. in the closing laps of the race. With both drivers a commanding six laps ahead of third place Raul Boesel, Unser ran down Fittipaldi after a late-race restart and passed him for the lead on lap 196. Three laps later, Fittipaldi used lapped traffic to his advantage to pull alongside Unser on the backstretch. Neither driver would give way, and the two cars touched wheels as they went through turn three side by side. Unser's car spun out of control to hit the outside wall, while Fittipaldi was able to maintain sufficient control to keep his car moving straight. In spite of the altercation, Unser saluted Fittipaldi from the infield with a double thumbs-up sign as he brought his car through turns three and four on the subsequent caution-slowed final lap.

Roger Penske hired Fittipaldi for his racing team in 1990 and he continued to be among the top drivers in CART, winning at least one race with Penske for six straight years. In 1993 he added a second Indianapolis 500 victory by taking the lead from defending Formula One World Champion Nigel Mansell on lap 185 and holding it for the remainder. The race saw him break Indianapolis victory lane tradition when he drank a celebratory bottle of orange juice instead of the traditional bottle of milk. He was only the second driver to not drink milk at Indianapolis since the tradition was founded in 1936 (and firmly established in 1956). Fittipaldi owned several orange groves in his native Brazil, and wanted to promote the citrus industry. He was widely criticized and ridiculed for the action, even though he later took a sip of milk after the television cameras were off. Fan reaction to the milk snub was highly negative, and he was booed a week later at Milwaukee. In interviews since, Fittipaldi explained his action, and apologised for the wave of negativity that followed.

In 1996 while approaching the age of 50, Fittipaldi suffered an injury during a crash at the Michigan International Speedway. While recovering from the crash the next year in September of 1997, Fittipaldi was flying his private plane across his orange tree farm in São Paulo, Brazil when the plane lost power and plunged 300 feet to the ground. He suffered serious back injuries. He recovered but did not return to the series as a driver, however would return later as a team owner. Fittipaldi finished his Champ Car career with 22 wins. 

He was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2001. He was a friend of Beatles guitarist George Harrison and was with him shortly before Harrison died in November of that year. 

In 2003 he made a return to Champcars as a team owner. In 2005 Fittipaldi made a surprise return to competitive racing in the Grand Prix Masters event held at Kyalami in South Africa, finishing second behind former CART sparring partner Nigel Mansell.

In 2008, Emerson and his brother Wilson entered the Brazilian GT3 Championship, driving a Porsche 997 GT3 for the WB Motorsports team. Also that year, Fittipaldi returned to Indianapolis to drive the Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car for the 2008 Indianapolis 500. In 2011 he started embracing social media by opening up an official Twitter and Facebook account, as well as becoming a Chairman of

In 2013 he began writing a regular monthly blog column on the official website of McLaren.

Bruce McLaren Becomes Youngest Winner In F-1 - December 12, 1959

December 12, 1959
Motor racing history was set when Bruce McLaren, driving a Cooper T51/Climax 2.5 L4 won the first ever United States Grand Prix to count for the world driver’s championship. He was 22 years, 104 days old, the youngest driver ever to win a Formula 1 Grand Prix. He held this record until Fernando Alonso won in Hungary in 2003.

For the first and only time the event was run on the Sebring International Raceway, Sebring, Florida, a track better known for the 12-hour sports car race. The 8.36 kilometre circuit was laid out on a disused military airfield and the race would be run over 42 laps or 218 miles. 

Three drivers went into that final round with a chance of becoming 1959 world champion. Leading the championship race with 28 points was Jack Brabham followed by Stirling Moss with 25 and a half points. Both Brabham and Moss, driving the small lightweight and nimble rear engined Cooper Climax T51s, Brabham driving for the ‘works’ and Moss in the navy blue colours of his patron Rob Walker. Third in the title standings was Tony Brooks on 23 points piloting the big front engined V6 Ferrari. The former dentist was destined to be a real threat on Sebring’s long straights, the Ferrari punching out around 290bhp, the most powerful car at the time. It would also be the last year a front engined car would be in serious contention for the championship. 

In such circumstances it is the role of the number two driver to support the team leader’s quest for glory and in the fledgling Cooper Grand Prix team that role fell on the young but broad shoulders of Bruce McLaren. Moss had pole position and led for the first five laps before the transmission went and with it his chance for the championship. It was a hot, sunny day, good news for the Coopers and Brabham took the lead following the retirement of Moss, the world championship in his grasp. Brabham and McLaren had broken the Ferrari challenge although Brooks was still strongly placed and if both works Coopers retired, the Englishman needed only a second place to take the title by one point. On the last lap Brabham’s car  ran dry of fuel, and McLaren flashed by to win while Brabham physically pushed his car home for fourth place and the championship.

Bruce McLaren didn’t lead much of the 1959 United States Grand Prix but he led the lap that mattered most, becoming a star overnight as the press made much of his age.

"Long-time Indy Car Veteran" Wally Dallenbach Sr Born - December 12, 1936

December 12, 1936
Wally Dallenbach Sr
(Photo: Vukie1953 via photopin cc)
Born in East Brunswick Township, New Jersey.
He drove in 180 Indy Car races between 1965 and 1979, winning five times. Dallenbach nearly won the 1975 Indianapolis 500, dueling with A. J. Foyt for many laps. He led for half of the race, but blew a piston on lap 162, twelve laps before the race was called due to rain. Bobby Unser won the race, which was halted at lap 174 (435 miles) due to a heavy rain storm.

He joined CART as competition director in 1980 and became Chief Steward of the sport in 1981, a position he held until 2004. Under his tenure, he improved the safety program in CART. He also established nondenominational church services for drivers and their families.

Dallenbach has been inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, due to his exploits at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, and the New Jersey Sports Hall of Fame. Wally was also voted into the American Motorcyclist Association Motorcycle Hall of Fame, for his work as founder and president of the Colorado 500 Invitational charity motorcycle rides. This event has raised over a million dollars in community support for the town of Basalt, Colorado, located in the Roaring Fork Valley region of western Colorado. Most recently Wally was voted into the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame.

He is the brother of former Pillar of Fire Church superintendent Rev. Robert Dallenbach and father of NASCAR driver and commentator, Wally Dallenbach, Jr. He and his wife, Peppy, reside near the Fryingpan River in upper Basalt and maintain a ranch, fairground, cabins and a private automotive restoration garage.

Monday, December 11, 2017

NASCAR Legend Herman "The Turtle" Beam Born - December 11, 1929

December 11, 1929 - August 27, 1980
Herman "The Turtle" Beam
Home: Johnson City, Tennessee, USA.
Herman “The Turtle” Beam was a NASCAR Grand National driver and team owner from  who was active as a driver from 1957 until 1963. He is famous for holding the longest streak of races without a DNF, with 84, from 1961 until 1963. He had 57 Top 10 finishes in 194 races.

Beam was a chemical engineering graduate from the University of North Carolina. His contemporaries would say that with his horn-rimmed glasses and stoic demeanor he looked and acted more like a college professor than a race car driver. Beam did, however, have a scientific, methodical approach to his career in the NASCAR Grand National series. His method was based on the simple principle that the less he abused his equipment and the less money he spent making repairs, the more money he earned.

“He knew the distance to each racetrack, how many gallons of gas it took to get there, what you had to do to qualify for the race, how much money the race paid for each position, and where he thought he could finish,” said Kingsport racer Gene Glover, who was one of Beam’s contemporaries. “He built his own car and towed his own car, and didn’t have much help and didn’t really have a lot of overhead. He was really a genius at stretching a dollar and stretching his equipment longer than anybody.

“They called him Herman the Turtle because he had good equipment but he just didn’t want to drive fast, so he just got down on the apron and stayed out of the way. A lot of times he’d end up with good finishes.”

In an era when it was normal for at least half of a Cup field to fall out of a race, Beam ran a race for survival rather than a race for victory. As other cars crashed out or suffered mechanical problems, Beam gained positions in the finishing order.

Beam made his Grand National debut in 1957, finishing 20th in a self-owned Chevy. In 1958, he ran 20 races, with a single top 10 finish. 1959 was his best season, where he started 30 of 44 events, had 12 top 10 finishes including his first career top 5, and finished 4th in points. He made 2 starts in the NASCAR Convertible Division that year. In 1961, Beam suffered an engine failure at Richmond International Raceway. It was the last last DNF for 84 races, starting the streak of finishing races that he is most famous for, which ended at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1963. Beam retired from racing that year, but continued to field cars for other drivers, including Ned Jarrett and Cale Yarborough.

Beam's 84-race streak took place over the span of 22 months 10 days, and was being threatened by Clint Bowyer, who if he finished the first ten races of the 2009 season could have tied the record. However, he crashed at the 2009 Southern 500 at Darlington to end his streak at 83 finished races. Bowyer's teammate Kevin Harvick fell three short when his engine failed in the 2009 Auto Club 500 ending his streak at 81 races without a DNF.

Beam also holds a number of other distinctions. In 1959 he finished fourth in the Grand National point standings ahead of legendary drivers including Buck Baker, Rex White, Jack Smith, Junior Johnson, Fireball Roberts, and the young second-year driver Richard Petty.

He was also the first driver ever to be black flagged at Daytona International Speedway. It occurred in 1960 during one of the two Daytona 500 40-lap qualifying races when he somehow forgot to put on his helmet before the race.

Beam ran eight laps before officials noticed he didn’t have on a helmet and threw the black flag.

Beam ended his car owner career in 1966. He operated a garage in Johnson City, Tennessee, and continued to work with area drivers until his death on August 27, 1980 at the age of 50. He was instrumental in the early career of NASCAR veteran Brad Teague.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Remembering The "Polish Prince" - Alan Kulwicki

December 14, 1954 - April 1, 1993
Alan Kulwicki
Born in Greenfield, Wisconsin, USA.
Kulwicki grew up in Greenfield, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee known for its Polish-American neighborhoods, near the Milwaukee Mile racetrack. After his mother died, his family moved in with his grandmother, who died when Kulwicki was in seventh grade. A year later, his only brother died of a hemophilia-related illness. Kulwicki attended Pius XI High School, a Roman Catholic high school in Milwaukee, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in 1977. His knowledge of engineering has been cited as a contributing factor to his success as a driver, as it helped him better understand the physics of a racecar. 

Kulwicki began his racing career as a 13-year-old kart racer. His father built engines as the crew chief for Norm Nelson and Roger McCluskey's United States Automobile Club racecars. Because his work involved travel, Kulwicki's father was unable to help his son at most kart races, so Kulwicki's resourcefulness was often tested trying to find someone to transport his kart to the track. Even when Kulwicki asked his father for advice, he typically ended up doing most of the work himself. 

Kulwicki started racing stock cars at the local level at the Hales Corners Speedway and Cedarburg Speedway dirt oval tracks. In 1973, he won the Rookie of the Year award at Hales Corners Speedway and the next year started racing late models at the same track. That season, he won his first feature race at Leo's Speedway in Oshkosh.

Kulwicki moved from dirt tracks to paved tracks in 1977. He also teamed up with racecar builder Greg Krieger to research, model, engineer, and construct an innovative car with far more torsional stiffness than other late models. The increased stiffness allowed the car to handle better in the corners, which increased its speed. Racing at Slinger Super Speedway, he won the track championship in 1977. In 1978, Kulwicki returned to Slinger; that same year he started racing a late model at Wisconsin International Raceway, finishing third in points in his rookie season at the track. In 1979 and 1980, he won the Wisconsin International Raceway late model track championships.

In 1979, Kulwicki began competing in regional to national level events sanctioned by the USAC Stock Car series and the American Speed Association, while remaining an amateur racer through 1980. When Kulwicki raced against future NASCAR champion Rusty Wallace in the ASA series, the two became friends. Kulwicki's highest finish in the ASA season points championship was third place, which he accomplished in both 1982 and 1985, with five career victories and twelve pole positions.

Kulwicki raced in four NASCAR Busch Grand National Series races in 1984. Kulwicki qualified second fastest and finished in second place at his first career NASCAR race, which took place at the Milwaukee Mile, several city blocks from where he grew up. Later that year, he finished seventh at Charlotte and fifth at Bristol. The following year, Kulwicki placed sixteenth in the season-opening Busch Series race at Daytona. Although he won the pole position at that year's event in Milwaukee, he finished fourteenth because of engine problems. Kulwicki's Busch Series successes caught car owner Bill Terry's eye and he offered Kulwicki a chance to race for him in a few Winston Cup events.

In 1985, Kulwicki sold most of his belongings, including his short track racing equipment, to move to Charlotte, North Carolina. He kept only a few things; his pickup truck was loaded to tow a trailer full of furniture and tools. An electrical fire two days before he left destroyed his truck, so Kulwicki had to borrow one to pull the trailer. After arriving in the Charlotte area, he showed up unannounced at Terry's shop ready to race. Veteran NASCAR drivers were initially amused by Kulwicki's arrival on the national tour, being from the northern United States when the series was primarily a southern regional series, and with only six starts had limited driving experience in the Busch series. Kulwicki was described as very studious, hard working, no-nonsense, and something of a loner. He frequently walked the garage area in his racing uniform carrying a briefcase. Kulwicki made his first career Winston Cup start at Richmond on September 8, 1985, for Bill Terry's Hardee's Ford team. That season he competed in five races for Terry, with his highest finish being 13th.

Kulwicki started his rookie season in 1986 with Terry. After Terry decided to end support for his racing team mid-season, Kulwicki fielded his own team. He started out as essentially a one-man team in a time when other teams had dozens of people in supporting roles. Initially the driver, owner, crew chief, and chief mechanic, Kulwicki had difficulty acquiring and keeping crew members because he found it difficult to trust them to do the job with the excellence that he demanded, and because he was hands on in the maintenance of racecars to the point of being a "control freak". He sought out crew members who had owned their own racecars, believing they would understand what he was going through, working long hours and performing his own car maintenance with a very limited budget. Future crew chief and owner, Ray Evernham, lasted six weeks with Kulwicki in 1992. Evernham later said, "The man was a genius. There's no question. It's not a matter of people just feeling like he was a genius. That man was a genius. But his personality paid for that. He was very impatient, very straightforward, very cut-to-the-bone." With one car, two engines, and two full-time crew members, Kulwicki won the 1986 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year award. He had competed in 23 of 29 events, with four Top 10 finishes, and had only one result below 30th place. Kulwicki finished 21st in the Winston Cup points standings for the season.

For the 1987 season, Kulwicki secured primary sponsorship from Zerex Antifreeze and changed his car number to #7. He picked up his first career pole position in the season's third race at Richmond. Later that season, he again qualified fastest at Richmond and Dover. Kulwicki came close to winning his first Winston Cup race at Pocono, finishing second after winner Dale Earnhardt passed him on the last lap. With nine Top 10 finishes, Kulwicki finished 15th in the Winston Cup points standings for the season.

In 1988, Kulwicki hired Paul Andrews as his crew chief after Andrews was recommended by Rusty Wallace at the 1987 NASCAR Awards banquet. That year Kulwicki won his first NASCAR Winston Cup race in the season's second-to-last race at Phoenix International Raceway after race leader Ricky Rudd's car had motor problems late in the race. Kulwicki led 41 laps and won by 18.5 seconds. After the race finished, he turned his car around and made, what he called, a Polish Victory Lap by driving the opposite way (clockwise) on the track, with the driver's side of the car facing the fans. "This gave me the opportunity to wave to the crowd from the driver's side", Kulwicki explained. Andrews recalled, "He had wanted to do something special and something different for his first win and only his first."

Kulwicki victory lane quote in Grand National Scene magazine; "It's been a long road and it's taken a lot of hard work to get here, but this has made it all worthwhile. When you work for something so hard for so long, you wonder if it's going to be worth all of the anticipation. Believe me, it certainly was. And what do you think of my Polish victory lap? There will never be another first win and you know, everybody sprays champagne or stands up on the car. I wanted to do something different for the fans."

(Kulwicki's 1988 car he used for his Polish Victory Lap)

He finished the 1988 season with four pole positions in 29 events, nine Top 10 finishes including two second place finishes and finished 14th in the Winston Cup points standings.

Kulwicki started his own engine-building program for the 1989 season. He had four second place finishes that season and held the points lead after the fifth race of the season. The team dropped from fourth to fifteenth in points by suffering nine engine failures during a sixteen-race stretch in the middle of the season. In 29 races, he had six pole positions, nine Top 10 finishes, and finished 14th in season points. The team had a new workshop built during the season.

Junior Johnson, owner of one of the top NASCAR teams, approached Kulwicki at the beginning of the 1990 season to try to get him to replace Terry Labonte in the #11 Budweiser Ford. Kulwicki declined, stating that he was more interested in running his own team. He won his second Cup race at Rockingham on October 21, 1990, and finished eighth in points that year, his first finish in the Top 10 points in a season.

Before the 1991 season, Zerex ended their sponsorship of Kulwicki's team. Junior Johnson came calling again, looking for a driver for his revived second team that had last seen Neil Bonnett behind the wheel in 1986. Kulwicki turned down Johnson's $1 million offer thinking that he had secured a sponsorship deal with Maxwell House Coffee. Johnson then went to Maxwell House himself and obtained the sponsorship for his new car, which Sterling Marlin was hired to drive instead. Kulwicki was forced to begin the season without a sponsor, paying all of the team's expenses out of his own pocket. At the opening race of the season, the 1991 Daytona 500, five cars raced with paint schemes representing different branches of the United States military to show support for the American forces involved in the Gulf War. It was the first use of special paint schemes in NASCAR history. Kulwicki's car was sponsored by the United States Army in a one-race deal. 

After running the second and third races of the season in a plain white unsponsored car, Kulwicki's luck finding a sponsor changed for the better at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Hooters was sponsoring a car driven by Mark Stahl, another owner-driver in the Cup series. Unlike Kulwicki, Stahl was a part-timer who had trouble making races. The Hooters car failed to make the field for the Motorcraft Quality Parts 500 and the Atlanta-based chain, desiring a spot in the race, approached the sponsorless Kulwicki to gauge his interest. The principals agreed to at least a one-race deal, which became a much longer term deal when Kulwicki recorded an eighth-place finish in the race. Later in the season, Kulwicki won the Bristol night race for his third career win. In 29 races, he had eleven Top 10 finishes, four poles, and finished 13th in the points.

The 1992 Hooters 500, the final race of the 1992 season, is considered one of the most eventful races in NASCAR history. It was the final race for Richard Petty and the first for Jeff Gordon. Six drivers were close enough in the points standings to win the championship that day. Davey Allison led second-place Kulwicki by 30 points, Bill Elliott by 40, Harry Gant by 97, and Kyle Petty by 98 and needed to finish sixth or better to clinch the championship. Kulwicki received approval from NASCAR and Ford to change the "Thunderbird" lettering on his bumper for the race to "Underbird" because he felt like the underdog in the contention for the championship. During Kulwicki's first pit stop, the first gear in the car's transmission broke. Crew chief Paul Andrews said, "We had to leave pit road in fourth gear, because we had broken metal parts in there, and only by leaving it in fourth are you not going to move metal around as much. We could only hope that the loose piece of metal didn't get in there and break the gears in half. We had three or four pit stops after it broke. I held my breath all day long." Allison was racing in sixth place, closely behind Ernie Irvan, when Irvan's tire blew with 73 laps left. As a result, Allison ran into the side of Irvan's spinning car and his car was too damaged to continue. Kulwicki and Elliott were left to duel for the title. While leading late in the race, Andrews calculated the exact lap for his final pit stop so that Kulwicki would be guaranteed to lead the most laps and would gain five bonus points. To save time, the pit crew did a fuel-only pit stop. Not changing tires allowed them to be available to push the car to prevent it from stalling, since the car had to start moving in a higher gear. Because the team's fuel man hurried to add the gasoline during the quick stop, he did not add the desired amount into the tank. As a result, Kulwicki had to conserve fuel to ensure that his car was still running at the end of the race. Elliott won the race and Kulwicki stretched his fuel to finish second. Kulwicki won the 1992 Winston Cup Championship by maintaining his 10-point lead over Elliott. He celebrated the championship with his second Polish Victory Lap. Always conscious of his appearance for potential sponsors, Kulwicki combed his hair, making a national television audience wait for him to emerge from his car.
(Photo: jbspec7 via photopin cc)
Alan Kulwicki's 1992 championship winning Ford "Underbird" at the Hooters Casino

Kulwicki won the championship because of his consistent high finishes, overcoming a 278-point deficit in the final six races of the season. It was the closest title win in NASCAR Cup Series history until the implementation of the Chase for the Cup format in 2004. The championship was noteworthy for other reasons, Kulwicki was the last owner/driver to win the title for nearly two decades and the first Cup champion born in a Northern state.
(Photo: royal_broil via photopin cc)
1992 NASCAR Owner's Championship Trophy

The song that played during a short salute to Kulwicki at the year-end awards banquet was Frank Sinatra's "My Way". During the prep work for the banquet, Elvis' version of "My Way" was found, but Kulwicki insisted on Frank Sinatra's version.

Kulwicki returned to his hometown, Greenfield, for Alan Kulwicki Day in January 1993. The gymnasium at Greenfield High School was filled and surrounded by four to five thousand people. Local television crews filmed the event. Kulwicki signed autographs for six hours. In celebration of his championship, sponsor Hooters made a special "Alan Tribute Card" that was used at all of the autograph sessions during the 1993 season. Kulwicki did not change his spending habits after winning the 1992 championship. "The only thing I really wanted to buy was a plane", he said, "but it turns out Hooters has a couple I can use." 

Kulwicki died in an airplane crash on Thursday April 1, 1993. He was returning from an appearance at the Knoxville Hooters in a Hooters corporate plane on a short flight across Tennessee before the Sunday spring race at Bristol. The plane slowed and crashed just before final approach at Tri-Cities Regional Airport near Blountville. The National Transportation Safety Board attributed the crash to the pilot's failure to use the airplane's anti-ice system to clear ice from the engine inlet system.

Kulwicki was buried at St. Adalbert's Cemetery in Milwaukee in a family plot with his mother and brother.  
(Photo: royal_broil via photopin cc)
The funeral was attended by NASCAR President Bill France, Jr. and numerous drivers. Kulwicki's racecar transporter was driven from the rainy track later that Friday morning while other teams and the media watched it travel slowly around the track with a black wreath on its grille. Years later, Kyle Petty described the slow laps as "the saddest thing I've ever seen at a racetrack, we just sat and cried". Three days after Kulwicki's death, Bristol race winner Rusty Wallace honored his former short track rival by performing Kulwicki's trademark Polish Victory Lap.

Kulwicki had competed in five NASCAR races that season with two Top 5 finishes, and was ranked ninth in points at his death. His car was driven by road course specialist Tommy Kendall on road courses and by Jimmy Hensley at the other tracks. Kulwicki had been selected to compete in the 1993 International Race of Champions series as the reigning Winston Cup champion. He competed in two IROC races before his death, finishing ninth at Daytona and eleventh at Darlington. Dale Earnhardt raced for Kulwicki in the final two IROC races, and the prize money for those races and their fifth place combined points finish was given to the Winston Cup Racing Wives Auxiliary, Brenner Children's Hospital and St. Thomas Aquinas Church charities. Davey Allison died on July 13, 1993, competitors who had been carrying a #7 sticker in memory to Kulwicki added a #28 sticker for Allison. After the final race of the season, series champion Dale Earnhardt and race winner Rusty Wallace drove a side-by-side Polish victory lap carrying flags for Kulwicki and Allison.

The USAR Hooters Pro Cup championship, the "Four Champions Challenge", is named in memory of the four victims of Kulwicki's plane crash. Established in 1997, the challenge is a four-race series, with each race named after one of the four who died in the crash, Kulwicki, Mark Brooks, son of Hooters owner Bob Brooks, Dan Duncan, and pilot Charles Campbell.

Milwaukee County honored Kulwicki in 1996 by creating Alan Kulwicki Memorial Park. Hooters chairman Robert Brooks donated $250,000 to build the 28-acre park, which features a Kulwicki museum inside the Brooks Pavilion.
(Photo: royal_broil via photopin cc)
1992 NASCAR Winston Cup Trophy 
Taken at Kulwicki's trophy room at Alan Kulwicki County Park.

Bristol Motor Speedway named its grandstand in Turns 1 and 2 in honor of Kulwicki, as well as a terrace above the grandstand. The 2004 Busch Series race at the Milwaukee Mile was named the "Alan Kulwicki 250" in honor of Kulwicki. Wisconsinite Paul Menard turned his car around after winning the 2006 Busch Series event and performed a Polish Victory lap to honor Kulwicki. Slinger Super Speedway has held an annual Alan Kulwicki Memorial race since 1994.

Father Dale Grubba, the priest who had presided over Kulwicki's funeral, released a biography of his friend entitled Alan Kulwicki: NASCAR champion Against All Odds in 2009. The book was the basis for a low-budget feature film, Dare to Dream: The Alan Kulwicki Story, released on April 1, 2005. The film chronicles Kulwicki's life from racing late models at Slinger Super Speedway, through his rise to NASCAR champion, and ends with his death. The movie was created by Kulwicki's Wisconsin fans for less than $100,000. The star of the film, Brad Weber, was a Kulwicki fan and credits the late driver with being his inspiration to become an actor.

In 2010, the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee created the Alan Kulwicki Memorial Student Center in their Engineering and Mathematical Sciences Building. The center, along with a scholarship for engineering students, was made possible in part by a donation from Thelma H. Kulwicki, the late racer's stepmother, who also donated numerous items of memorabilia located in the center.

In May 2012, the Milwaukee County Historical Society announced plans for a special exhibit celebrating the life and career of Kulwicki to open in early 2013. The exhibit is called "Alan Kulwicki: A Champion's Story".

In his career, he had won five NASCAR Winston Cup races, 24 pole positions, 75 Top 10 finishes, and one championship in 207 races. Kulwicki was posthumously inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2002. He was inducted in the Lowe's Motor Speedway Court of Legends in 1993, the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993, Talladega-Texaco Hall of Fame in 1996, Bristol Motor Speedway Heroes of Bristol Hall of Fame in 1997, the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2010.

Price Cobb Born In Dallas, Texas - December 10, 1954

December 10, 1954
Price Cobb

(Photo credit;
Born in Dallas, Texas, USA.
He is a former Formula Atlantic, Sports-car, and Indy car driver. He won the 1990 24 Hours of Le Mans together with John Nielsen and Martin Brundle in a Jaguar XJR-12. He also owned an Indy Racing League team in 1998 and 1999 for Roberto Guerrero and Jim Guthrie. He also has authored a number of books on auto racing.

Price is currently working in Austin, Texas with Moorespeed general manager.

"Former CART Driver" Herm Johnson Dies - December 10, 2016

March 4, 1953 - December 10, 2016
Herm Johnson
Born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, USA.
 He was a former driver in the CART Championship Car series. He raced in 7 seasons from 1979–1985, with 35 career starts, including the 1984 Indianapolis 500. He also raced at Indy in 1982, but the race was not part of CART that year. He finished in the top ten 8 times, with his best finish in 6th position in 1982 at Atlanta.

In 1976, Johnson won the SCCA National Championship at Road Atlanta and was the 1977 USAC Super Vee Champion. Johnson's father suffered a fatal heart attack, just days before the 1982 Indianapolis 500. Also during this race, Rick Mears bumped into the back of his car on a lap 183 pit stop. For his next race Johnson, who runs a business painting helmets, trimmed the back edge of his rear wing with the message "Rick...if you can read this, you're too close."

Johnson suffered a serious crash in practice for the 1986 Indianapolis 500. Johnson suffered injuries to his back and neck, and the crash effectively ended his Indycar career.

Johnson resided in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, running his custom painting business, 'Just Herm Designs'. The shop has done work for several Indy 500 winners as well as IRL and NHRA Champions (Eddie Cheever Jr., Al Unser Jr., Johnny Herbert and Sam Hornish, Jr., for example) as well as amateur racers like Jon Belanger and 4-time SCCA Champion Brad Ellingson. The shop specializes in custom paint jobs for helmets, racecars, and motorcycles. Johnson was also a performance driving instructor at Brainerd International Raceway in Brainerd Minnesota.

On December 10, 2016 Herm Johnson passed away from liver & renal failure.
(Photo;The Open Wheel)

Bentley Warren Born In Kennebunkport, Maine - December 10, 1940

December 10, 1940
Bentley Warren
Born in Kennebunkport, Maine, USA.
He is best known for racing in the USAC Championship Car series, and for some New Englanders, even more so for his racing in the Supermodified winged cars now called ISMA.

He had his first win 1957 at West Peabody, Massachusetts. As of 2007 he has won races at 34 tracks in states and Canada. His first championship came in 1962 in the B-class at Hudson and the Pines. Since then he has won championships at Oswego Speedway, Star Speedway, New England Super Modified Racing Association and ISMA.

He raced in the 1970-1975 seasons, with 37 career starts, including the 1971 and 1975 Indianapolis 500. He finished in the top ten 14 times, with his best finish in 4th position in 1970 at Milwaukee.
Warren poses with his 1971 Indianapolis 500 car, the Classic Wax Special Eagle.

After he stopped racing in the Indy cars, Warren's career was revitalized at Oswego Speedway driving for Tom Heveron in a wingless supermodified. While subbing for injured driver Doug Heveron, Bentley racked up 5 wins in his first 6 starts which led to a series of great rides including the Flying 5 and one of Paul Dunigan's fleet. Bentley has won the International Classic at Oswego 6 times.

Other notable wins include the Little 500 twice, the Copper World Classic, the Star Classic, The Thompson World Series, and an East-West showdown between the best of the supermodified drivers. He continues to drive on occasion in the ISMA supermodified series and recorded a win in 2006 driving for car owner Vic Miller.

In the early 2000s Bentley worked with film legend Paul Newman in a midget car and supermodified at Star Speedway in Epping, NH. In the late 1990s and in the 2000s, Bentley has dabbled back in the USAC open-wheel division, and continues to make appearances in supermodifieds.

He was inducted in the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame in 2007.

Bentley is also a legend in the world of motorcycling. As the owner of Bentley’s Saloon in Arundel, Maine, he has built a destination spot that attracts motorcyclists, tourists and folks from all over North America.
The place is filled with Bentley Warren racing memorabilia and vintage motorcycles hanging from the rafters in the saloon! 
Famous for its motorcycle viewing deck, food - especially generous lobster feeds, hospitality and live music, Bentley’s once small bar room has grown to include inside and outside bars, a motel, a gift shop, and full service campground.
The local community knows Bentley for his sponsorship of charity motorcycle rides throughout the summer for numerous worthy causes and his Tuesday night weekly car shows.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

"Tribute To NASCAR Legend" Charles "Red" Farmer

October 15, 1932?
Charles "Red" Farmer
Born in Nashville, Tennessee, USA.
He is a former NASCAR racecar driver. His date of birth is disputed but it was sometime between 1928 and 1932. The International Motorsports Hall of Fame lists his birthyear as 1928, but other sources list his birthdate as October 15, 1932. He was asked by "You've been coy about your age over the years. I've read that you were born in 1928, 1929, or maybe even 1930 or 1931. What year was it?" Farmer replied: "Hey, I ain't sure. When I was born I was too young to read the birth certificate." The interviewer followed up with "We'll just go with 1928, how's that?" Farmer replied: "There is so many that I can't even figure it out. I ain't even sure myself anymore."

His first race was at Opa-locka Speedway near Miami, Florida in a 1934 Ford in 1948. He became famous as a member of the Alabama Gang and he considered his hometown to be Hueytown, Alabama. Estimates of Farmer's career victories range from 700 to 900 victories, most occurring in the late 1950s and early 60's.
He raced 36 NASCAR races from 1953 to 1975. He won numerous championships at local tracks. He was the NASCAR National Late Model Sportsman champion (later Nationwide Series) for three consecutive years from 1969 to 1971. Farmer's best finish in NASCAR's top division was a fourth at both the 1972 Talladega 500, and the 1968 Middle Georgia 500 near Macon, Georgia). He had so few Cup races because he was content to run primarily in the Late Model Sportsman. He was named NASCAR's most popular driver 4 times. Red later raced in the white and gold #97 car. In the mid 60's, however, Red raced a white, gold, and red Ford Fairlane, #F-97.
He was Davey Allison's crew chief in the Busch Series. On July 12, 1993, Farmer was a passenger in a helicopter crash at Talladega Superspeedway that took the life of NASCAR driver Davey Allison, which occurred as Allison was attempting to land the aircraft in a nearby parking lot. The two were en route to the track in order to watch David Bonnett (son of fellow Alabama Gang driver Neil Bonnett) drive in a practice session. Farmer suffered a broken collarbone and fractured ribs in the crash.

Farmer has retained his skills as a driver in spite of his age. He competed in two Busch Grand National races in 1992, and the season opening ARCA event at Daytona in 1993. On June 2005, Farmer, nearly aged 80, turned heads in winning a heat over current NASCAR Sprint Cup stars, and finished 8th in the feature during the Sprint Prelude to the Dream at Eldora Speedway, owned by Tony Stewart.

As of 2015, Farmer still regularly competes in a late model at Talladega Short Track, a 1/3 mile oval dirt track in Eastaboga, Alabama located near the Talladega Superspeedway. His Grandson, Lee Burdett, also races there.

His accolades are numerous. He's a member of 5 halls of fame. Red was named one of the 50 Greatest Drivers in NASCAR history in 1998. He was a member of the first Class of Inductees into the Talladega-Texaco Walk Of Fame. When the International Motorsports Hall of Fame inducted Red, they had to waive their rule of 5 years of retirement - they figured that he never would retire.
Red Farmer poses next to his F97 late model at Talladega Short Track.

"3-time USAC Sprint Car Champ" Sheldon Kinser Born - December 9, 1942

December 9, 1942 - August 1, 1988
Sheldon Kinser
(Photo: Ted Van Pelt via photopin cc)
 Born in Bloomington, Indiana, USA.  
He was a three-time USAC Sprint Car Series Champion (1977, 1981, 1982). He also drove in the USAC and CART Championship Car series. He competed during the 1975-1981 seasons, with 38 combined career starts, including the Indianapolis 500 each year except 1980, when he failed to qualify. He had 11 top-10 finishes, with a best of third at Texas World Speedway in 1979.

Sheldon was the cousin of Steve Kinser, the 20-time World of Outlaws sprint-car champion, and Mark Kinser. Sheldon, died of cancer August 1, 1988.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Ryan Newman Born In South Bend, Indiana - December 8, 1977

December 8, 1977
Ryan Newman
(Photo: Bristol Motor Speedway & Dragway via photopin cc)
Born in South Bend, Indiana, USA.
Newman made his racing debut in 1993 in the United Midget Auto Racing Association and the All-American Midget Series, winning both Rookie of the Year and the championship. His 100 feature wins and two titles have him in the Quarter Midget Hall of Fame. Moving to USAC in 1995 running the C.E. Lewis No. 39 Drinan Chassis powered Brayton Motor, he was ROTY again in both the Midget Series and the Silver Crown in 1996. In 1999, he was the first driver to win in all three divisions while being the Silver Bullet Series champion in the No. 14 Beast Chassis powered Chevy.

Newman began working for legendary racing icon Roger Penske in 2000, winning 3 of the five ARCA RE/MAX Series races he entered, and making his Winston Cup debut at Phoenix International Raceway. In 2001, Newman continued in both ARCA and NASCAR, while attending Purdue. Newman ran 15 Busch Series races that season, winning poles in his 2nd and 3rd career starts and scoring his first career win at Michigan International Speedway in just his 9th career start. He also had a series-high 6 poles. Around this time he would meet racing legend Buddy Baker, who would eventually become his mentor on superspeedways.

In 2002, Newman won a season-high 6 poles, breaking the record set by Davey Allison. In September, he won his first career Winston Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after starting from the pole. Newman joined Dale Earnhardt, Jr. as the second rookie to win The Winston, and beat out Jimmie Johnson for the Rookie of the Year award on the strength of rookie records in top-fives (14) and top-tens (22), even though Johnson had more wins, finished higher in the points standings, and led the standings at one point.

Nicknamed "Rocket Man", Ryan is a graduate of Purdue University, he currently competes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driving the No. 31 Caterpillar, Inc./Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS for Richard Childress Racing.

Newman and his wife, Krissie, operate the Ryan Newman Foundation, whose mission is to educate and encourage people to spay or neuter their pets and to adopt dogs and cats from animal shelters; to educate children and adults about the importance of conservation so the beauty of the great outdoors can be appreciated by future generations; and to provide college scholarship funding through the Rich Vogler Scholarship program, of which Newman himself was a recipient, to students interested in auto racing careers. The Newmans themselves have rescued and care for six dogs: Digger, Mopar, Harley, Socks, Dunkin and Fred. He helped fund the construction of the Catawba County, North Carolina Humane Society shelter, in the county where he once lived.

Newman is a car enthusiast and owns 14 cars. He enjoys driving and working on vintage cars, particularly 1950s Chryslers. His first car was a 74 Triumph TR-6. His favorite car is his 1948 Buick Roadmaster convertible he received from his wife as a birthday gift. His collection can be viewed on the History Channel show American Pickers (Episode: Art of the Deal). Newman also enjoys playing iRacing, a computer racing simulation game.

On April 29, 2008, the St. Joseph County, Indiana, Board of Commissioners dedicated a half-mile stretch of newly rerouted Lincoln Way West (formerly U.S. Route 20) near the South Bend Regional Airport to Newman.

Kevin Harvick Born In Bakersfield, California - December 8, 1985

December 8, 1975
Kevin Harvick 
(Photo: Bristol Motor Speedway & Dragway via photopin cc)
Born in Bakersfield, California, USA.
 He currently competes full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, driving the No. 4 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing and part-time in the Xfinity Series, driving the No. 41 Ford Mustang for SHR. Harvick is the former owner of Kevin Harvick Incorporated, a race team that fielded cars in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series between 2004 and 2011. He is the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and a two-time Xfinity Series champion. Harvick holds the all-time record for Cup Series wins at Phoenix International Raceway with eight wins. Harvick is also the third winningest driver in Xfinity Series history with 46 wins.

Harvick began kart racing at an early age in 1980. Over the next decade Harvick achieved considerable success on the go-cart racing circuit, earning seven (7) national championships and two (2) Grand National championships.

In 1992, he started racing late models part-time in the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Series and he competed there while still in high school. While in 5th grade Harvick gave a glimpse of his future career plans when he completed a class project poster listing his goals as competing in NASCAR and racing at the Indy 500. Harvick's father, a firefighter and fixture around the Bakersfield racing scene, built him his first car to compete in the lower NASCAR Series by using the money he earned to run his own garage, Harvick Motorsports. When Harvick could not race, such as in the winter, he competed on his high school wrestling team at Bakersfield's North High School winning a sectional title in his weight class his senior year. Growing up Harvick also participated in baseball, basketball, football, and soccer. Originally intending to attend college and major in architecture, Harvick took classes at Bakersfield College. However he found his heart was in racing and dropped out to continue his racing career full-time.

Kevin Harvick married wife DeLana on February 28, 2001 in Las Vegas, Nevada. They had met the previous year at Michigan Speedway where at the time she was working in public relations for fellow driver Randy LaJoie. DeLana had worked in a similar capacity for Jeff Gordon previously and had even dabbled in race driving herself. Her father is former NASCAR Busch series driver John Paul Linville.

The couple live in Oak Ridge, North Carolina with their son Keelan. The Harvicks also own a vacation home in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. His wife, DeLana is an active participant in Harvick's career, co-owning and managing Kevin Harvick Incorporated until its sale, as well as frequently appearing on Harvick's pit box during Sprint Cup races.

Harvick has made several TV talk show appearances during his career on shows such as Late Show with David Letterman, Live with Regis and Kelly, Jim Rome is Burning, and The Tony Danza Show. He was also on the first season of FX's NASCAR Drivers: 360. It took an in-depth look at NASCAR drivers outside the track and the preparation it takes to be a NASCAR driver. Harvick has also been on MTV Cribs. He is an avid fan of the Philadelphia Flyers of the NHL. He also stated during the ESPN broadcast of the 2011 5-hour Energy 500, while there was a rain delay, that he was a fan of the New York Yankees baseball team. On Aug. 10, 2011, Harvick threw out the ceremonial first pitch between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels at Yankee Stadium. He owns a Learjet 31 Private Jet with the tail number N229KD

On Feb. 19, 2011, Harvick's new sponsor, Budweiser hosted "The Roast of Kevin Harvick", which had some of Kevin's opponents and teammates give their thoughts and opinions on the Sprint Cup driver. Harvick was nicknamed "Happy Harvick" ironically due to his occasional temper outbursts and in fact his pit sign being a smiley face is a play on this nickname. He was called the "Bakersfield Basher" in his early years for his aggressive driving style.

Because of his last-second passes to win many of his races and his ability to start deep in the field and finish towards the front, he was nicknamed "Mr. Where did he come from?" by NASCAR on Fox announcer Mike Joy. In the 2011 season, commentators began referring to Harvick as "The Closer" for his late-passing wins.

Kerry Earnhardt Born In Kannapolis, North Carolina - December 8, 1969

December 8, 1969
Kerry Earnhardt
(Photo: realjv via photopin cc)
 Born in Kannapolis, North Carolina, USA.
Kerry is a former NASCAR driver. He is the eldest son of seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt and the half-brother of NASCAR Sprint Cup star Dale Earnhardt, Jr. He is employed by Dale Earnhardt, Inc. as a consultant, specializing in driver development. Kerry is known for his physical similarity to his father.

He and wife René married in 1999. They have a daughter, Kayla. From their previous marriages, Kerry has two sons, Bobby and Jeffrey, and René has a daughter, Blade. Bobby Earnhardt currently races in the ARCA Truck Series out of Charleston, WV and won the ARCA Truck Series Rookie of the Year. He has also raced dirt and asphalt late model cars over the past couple years.

Jeffrey Earnhardt made his Sprint Cup Series debut at the 2015 Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway for Go FAS Racing. On September 18, Go FAS announced Earnhardt will run the majority of the 2016 season, except for the restrictor plate races that Bobby Labonte will run and the road courses that Boris Said will run, in the Cup Series for the team with sponsorship from Can-Am motorcycles. He will compete for Cup Rookie of the Year honors.