Chuck Piazza

Front Row @ Concord Speedway

Ralph Earnhardt and Chuck Piazza on front row at Concord Speedway pace lap for feature event. Est. Apr. 1971
paul woody
@paul-woody   10 years ago
look at that crowd
David Alfred Bayer
@david-alfred-bayer   9 years ago
Chuck, Even though it's not the kit car, your red Camaro looks pretty clean and sharp there! Dave Bayer
Bobby Williamson
@bobby-williamson   9 years ago
Great shot, Chuck, and what a crowd! I agree, the future would have been better if dirt had remained. As it was, at least a generation of race fans were lost. Asphalt racing never set the South, or at least the Carolina's, on fire. Asphalt was for NASCAR's big leagues. The local track had a different identity and one that fans had grown up with.
Chuck Piazza
@chuck-piazza   9 years ago
Hi Bobby Williamson, There has been a lot of confusion on the Concord Speedway track that I have been refering to. This is the old 1/2 mile dirt track, see the excellent comment by Jim Reep, Jr. Jan. 22. But thank you for your interest. Chuck Piazza
Bobby Williamson
@bobby-williamson   9 years ago
Chuck, Thanks again. I understand and know that your photo is of the old track, and that several differenttracks have all had the name of "ConcordSpeedway".True, the currentspeedway was never dirt butI think Concord was a dirt-track community, and has never embraced the pavement.
Robin L. Agner
@robin-l-agner   9 years ago
Those are four sets of scales in the trailer with the wood ramps to roll the cars across the scales. The Old Concord Speedway was off of Hiway 73 at I-85 where Zemosa Acres housing developement is now located.
Patty Markin
@patty-markin   9 years ago
I'm not sure where some info comes from, but Concord Speedway on Rt 601 definitely was a dirt trackand got paved in the 80's. My husband raced on it when it was dirt. If you go into the office, there is a picture of it when it was dirt.
Bobby Williamson
@bobby-williamson   9 years ago
Thanks Patty, I was not aware it was ever dirt.
Robin L. Agner
@robin-l-agner   9 years ago
Jim, Poplar Tent Road is at exit 52 off I-85. Highway 73 is at exit 55. I helped on the #25 57 Ford driven by Butch Trexler and owned by his brothers Roy and Troy. We raced at the old Concord Speedway every Sat. night and at Metrolina on Friday.
Patty Markin
@patty-markin   9 years ago
I didn't mean to step on toes,- just adding that the Concord Speedway has some history to it. Mr. Furr was a super guy and did a lot for the local racers. It's a very different track, but would make a great investment for the right person to bring it back to the way it was.
Chuck Piazza
@chuck-piazza   9 years ago
Hi Robin L Anger, Wow, good eye on the scales and ramps. If memory serves me correct I think we had to weigh 3000 lbs. after the race with driver. Can any of the officials from the day back that up ? Chuck Piazza
Patty Markin
@patty-markin   9 years ago
Do any of theracers from Concord Speedway on 601 remember a guy by the name of David Miller. He was a kid back then and claims he won races whenit was a dirt track.
Robin L. Agner
@robin-l-agner   9 years ago
Patty, here is a link that I think is the person you are talking about. http://www.luvracin.com/03_z_NC/Concord/drivers/112-miller.html
Chuck Piazza
@chuck-piazza   9 years ago
You could be right Jim, maybe we'll get some more comments from a tech back in the day. I was competing in the race that Don Bumgardner's car went over the rail. I believe there were a popular racing brand name of tires on the car at that time and that the right front went down causing the accident. I did drive for the Gordon's at a later date and they probably have the most accurate knowledge of what happened. I was a good friend of Don, who was a great driver and individual,it was so unfortunate that this incident did end his racing career. Chuck Piazza
Patty Markin
@patty-markin   9 years ago
Wow!! He looks really skinny in that picture!
a true race fan
@a-true-race-fan   9 years ago
CHUCK - THIS PHOTO BRINGS BACK SO MANY MEMORIES - YOU WERE A GREAT DRIVER AND ONE OF MY FAVORITES - I WAS JUST A YOUNG KID AT THE SHELBY FAIRGROUNDS - WE WERE PARKED IN THE INFIELD IN TURN TWO - YOU WERE NEAR US IN A DARK BLUE #65 A 55 OR 57 CHEVY - I KEPT WATCHING YOU - WHEN THE MAIN EVENT WAS ABOUT TO START I WATCHED YOU CLIMB IN AND BUCKLE UP - YOU WERE ON THE POLE - YOU CAME OFF TURN TWO AND REALLY GAVE THAT WHEEL A SNAP - ROARED DOWN THE BACKSTRETCH - YOU LED THE WHOLE RACE - I WAS HOOKED - THE NUMBER #74 CAR WAS BEAUTIFULL - ALL US KIDS LIKED IT - THE ROLL BARS WERE PAINTED LIGHT BLUE AND THE CAR JUST SOUNDED AWESOME - WHEN YOU LET OFF GOING INTO TURN ONE A BLUE FLAME WOULD SHOOT OUT THE EXHAUST - YOU HAD THIS THING THAT LOOKED LIKE YOU WASH DISHES WITH - A MOP ON A STICK THAT YOU USED TO CLEAN YOUR WINDSHIELD WITH - I ACTUALLY TOOK SOME PICTURES FROM THE STANDS AND DID A BOOK REPORT ON YOU - I GOT AN A ON MY REPORT AND ALL THE KIDS WANTED TO GO TO THE RACES - SO ABOUT SIX OR SEVEN DADS TOOK A BUNCH OF US KIDS TO METROLINA SPEEDWAY - WE HAD A ABSOLUTE BEST TIME EVER - BUT YOU LED EVERY LAP AND NEVER ONCE USED THE WINDSHIELD MOP - THE OTHER KIDS DIDNT BELIEVE ME - I WANTED TO TAKE THEM ACROSS THE TRACK AFTER THE RACE - BUT THE DADS WANTED TO GO HOME - WE STILL TALK ABOUT THAT NITE TODAY AND IM FORTY EIGHT NOW - I WAS ALSO AT THE 60 LAP SPECIAL RACE WHEN YOU DROVE THE HARRY HYDE DODGE - I LOVE YOUR COMMENTS ABOUT THAT CAR - YOU MADE IT LOOK LIKE IT WAS ON ASPHALT - YOU ALLWAYS DROVE A FAST CAR AND HAD GREAT CAR CONTROL - I LOVED WATCHING YOU DRIVE .
a true race fan
@a-true-race-fan   9 years ago
I remember the #92 camaro that was yates/roper built - that was a fast car and don bumgardner was a good clean driver as i remember - i also remember the #74 camaro - it was also fast - sounded awesome - and shot a blue flame out the exhaust when you let off - you won lots of races - could you give some background and information about this car - i really appreciate it .
Chuck Piazza
@chuck-piazza   9 years ago
Hi True race fan, Boy, you really are! What a great memory, and thank you for the kind words. The number 74 Camaro was owned by Joe Elmore out of Gaffney, SC. The car was built by Pete Beyers from Carolleen, NC (near Forest City). Pete was a talented builder who had worked with Charlie Blanton. The car was a 1970 model Camaro using the stock front frame clip, which had good steering and geometry characteristics from the factory.The car was built much like a cup car of that era. Specially fabricated upper and lower control arms which gave the car excellent anti-squat and dive features, the car was bump steered (keeping the tow change to a minimum under suspension trave). We ran quite a soft spring set for that time with front springs in the 700 lb. range and rears in the 110- 125. We controlled roll with anti- roll bars, often changing bars as track conditions changed. The interior of the car was painted "Petty Blue" (popular color) as was the chassis which enabled close inspection for fatigue. We were running 302 cu. in. engines turning 72-7500 rpm. One unique feature on that car was the exhaust system. The exhaust exited out of the right (pass.) side of the car making it very uncomfortable for the drivers as we got inside of them. I had many drivers tell me they couldn't stand the noise! That particular car went on to win 50% of all races entered, over 60 wins and 100 top three's before it was sold. But much like the Yates, Roper, Gray Camaro it was ahead of the times! Chuck Piazza
Chuck Piazza
@chuck-piazza   9 years ago
True Race Fan, Ralph Earnhardt whom I had great respect for and I shared some great races together, often running side by side for almost an entire race. One particular night at Metolina Speedway we had battled lap after lap with each of us leading different laps at the finish line. As we got the checker I knew it was really close, we were awarded the win and Ralph came by and said "You know I really won that race" my front wheels were in front of yours and he was right! Ralph was running a Chevelle body at the time and he had thenose moved back so far the front bumper was just barely ahead of the front wheels while the Camaro had the long nose which was probably 8-12" in front of his. We had a good laugh together on that night.
Chuck Piazza
@chuck-piazza   9 years ago
True Race Fan, I would like to share another story about Ralph Earnhardt. We had an unusual string of engine problems over several races one season early iln the '70's and while running a close race with Ralph at Cherokee Speedway one night engine problems forced us to withdraw. After the race Ralph came by and asked me if we would be at Metrolina the next night. I told him we probably would not be able to make it as that was our last spare. Now keep in mind that racing was Ralph's job, he provided for his family with his racing earnings! But he looked at me and I'll never forget his words. "I've got a fresh spare in the shop, it should be the strongest one I've built. Your welcome to it if you'll come and get it and we can race tomorrow night". Wow!! I told my car owner "Joe Elmore" what Ralph had offered and he graciously accepted. We made the race at Metrolina, Ralph won, we ran a distant second. I knew then that I had superior engine power to Ralph but I couldn't understand how we were always so close and he was so hard to out run and he would win as often as not! Not only was he the best buthe showedhis compassion for a fellow competitorand deep down I always felt he really enjoyed the races we had together. Chuck Piazza
Chuck Piazza
@chuck-piazza   9 years ago
Hi Jim, When I was racing up north I drove a 1959 Ford which was driven at Daytona I believe in 1960 by Bob Duel for Ford dealer Julian Buesink,Clymer, NY. I was about 22 at the time and I thought this was a really cool car. In that era some of the super speedway car had wind tunnels located beside the transmission tunnel and this Ford had one plus a small trap door that the driver could activate with a cable and check the condition of the right front tire. Of course if one paid too much attention to what he was looking at, it could spell worse problems than a tire wearing out. The wind tunnels were supposed to relieve a build up of air from under the hood and exhaust it under the car. Not sure it ever worked on the short tracks back in the day, but everyone was so busy looking at the tunnel that they overlooked other details. We had a 4000 lb. weight limit in those days and the Ford actually was a good handling car and while I was still in learning curve we were winning races and staying up in the points chase. I was running a few races with MARC which was the old ARCA circuit and actually ran quite well, usually finishing in the top ten. On to the 74 car, it was a leaf spring set up. The toe in cornering (ackerman), what we looked for then was for the left front to gain toe out when entering the corner. Most race cars then and now runtoe out as against a street car which generally runs toe in. Gus will have to forgive me.Sounds familar but I'll have to run the wheel around as maybe I don't remember as well as I thought. As tough as Ralph and Dale were on the track they really had a tender side that people didn't realize.
a true race fan
@a-true-race-fan   9 years ago
CHUCK - THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL THE INFORMATION - AND THE STORIES ABOUT RALPH EARNHARDT - THIS IS SO INTERESTING AND YOU ARE A ONE OF A KIND PERSON - I WOULD LIKE TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS ON DRIVER STICK ELLIOTT - AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RACING UP NORTH AND DOWN SOUTH - AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE DRIVERS - THANKS .
Chuck Piazza
@chuck-piazza   9 years ago
Jim Reep, Jr., Your memory is probably better than mine on Bobby Johns. but it does ring a bell. Bump steer can get pretty detailed, It is of course the amount of toe in or out as the front goes through its suspension travel (compression and rebound) tie rods need to swing on the same arc as the lower control arm which can involve lengthening, shortening, raising or lowering the inner or outer points of the tie rods. On our cars we tried to maintain .060 over 5" of total travel which was pretty good in those days. I'm not sure how many racers were into back then. Also, even rack and pinion cars need bump steered. I campaigned an extrans am camaro in SCCA for several years and we ran much closer tolerences than previously mentioned. But those are great questions you have raised. Chuck Piazza
Chuck Piazza
@chuck-piazza   9 years ago
True race fan, Well you could write a book on Stick Elliott and never cover the man. I raced a lot of years with him and the only thing I ever figured out was to stay as far away from him on the track as I could. Actually, we really got along pretty well. He always called me "yankee" and sometimes a little worse. As everyone who ever knew "Stick" you didn't mess with him, and those that did either carried their car or themselves home in a basket.I always thought that he could manhandle a car better than anyone I ever knew. What success we had with him was getting our cars to handle really well were we could race the track and not him. I recall him taking us out on the caution lap at Shelby one race, whichin all fairness he owed me one, but I always tried not loosing track of where he was at. Stick won a lot of races and I often think he was the first intimadator. When health issues required Ralph Earnhardt to step back from driving, he hired Stick and they went on a tear of victories. They were a good pair, Ralph's equipment was always reliable, hischassis setups were always good, Stick would drive the wheels off, I personally felt that Stick made some of his finest drives for Ralph. I miss them both. Chuck Piazza
Chuck Piazza
@chuck-piazza   9 years ago
True race fan, Your question on drivers from the north and south, I'm sure as many people you asked you would get that many answers. I cut my teeth on flat dirt tracks which seemed to me to requirea differenteffort by the track operators, our winters were harsher, the soil did not have near the clay content that was in the south. I remember many tracks trucking in loads of clay and adding tons of calcium to hold the surface. But for the most part track preparation is a never ending task for all track promoters. The seasons in the north were much shorter (we would start in mid-May, finish Labor Day) and unless we traveled south, we were done. When I moved south I would runas many as three times more races as is the north. My point is I think seat time is important to a driver's performance. One difference was we were able to run big block engines (the 396's and upfrom GM, 406's Ford and some teams were running out the roof on Chrysler). I think most of the southern teams were running smaller cu inches when I moved here. I remember struggling a bit because we didn't have the torque of those large engines. Back in those days it seems like most of the successful drivers were in the south that got the headlines. As history has demonstrated drliver talent is all over the country and even global. I've always felt privilaged for the opportunity to have raced with so many great drivers. Chuck Piazza
Howard Bost Jr
@howard-bost-jr   7 years ago
i love these photos i remember them well as i was probably in the stands i was 6 yrs old at the time
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