Snow and Dave Marcis' Final Win Overshadowed by Racing Drug Bust before Feb. 21, 1982 Richmond Cup

Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
10 years ago
9,134 posts

I think the 1982 Richmond 400 might be the strangest race weekend I recall.

Following the previous weekend's Daytona 500, Richmond would be the first short track test and plenty of drama unfolded before the cars took to the track.

Race day was Sunday, February 21, with qualifying scheduled for Friday, February 19 at Paul Sawyer's 1/2-mile asphalt Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway layout.

The day before the Richmond track opened, the race world was rocked by a drug scandal that saw a number of racers arrested in a Florida Federal drug sting. One of the arrested was Rahmoc Winston Cup driver, Gary Balough.

Balough made bail and was allowed to join his team to compete at Richmond.

However, Friday morning in Richmond dawned with heavy snow amid the usual frigid February temperatures. It was obvious there'd be no practice or qualifying on Friday.

Sitting on the Virginia State Fairgrounds, the Richmond track was surrounded by a number of large fair exhibition buildings. Arrangements were made to use several of these buildings as an indoor garage and inspection station for NASCAR to get everyone out of the snow.

Do you remember how the Blues Brothers were dressed in the movie of the same name? Well, all day on Friday, a number of guys in suits roamed the premises inside those two exhibit buildings where the cars were being worked on and inspected. The center of their universe seemed to be the Rahmoc car and its transporter.

Believe me, a bunch of guys in suits and sunglasses in the Richmond NASCAR compound on a snowy day in 1982 stood out like a sore thumb. We all kept whispering and waiting for something exciting to develop, but nothing did... at least, not on Friday. Somebody did sprinkle the contents of a Goodys Headache Powder wrapper on the hood of the Bob Rahilly & Butch Mock owned Pontiac.

The track crew worked furiously on Saturday morning to remove snow and ice and prepare the track for qualifying. When the qualifying round concluded, Darrell Waltrip had put his #11 Junior Johnson built Mountain Dew Buick on the pole with a lap at 93.256 mph.

Morgan Shepherd captured the outside front row position in the #98 Ron Benfield owned Levi Garrett Buick and Benny Parsons, winner of the last Richmond race, was third in Harry Ranier's #28 Pontiac.

A sellout crowd was on hand on a soon to turn nasty Sunday for the main event.

When the green flag dropped, it was roller skater Morgan Shepherd on the outside of the front row who beat DW back to the line to lead lap one and the following 29. It would be a competitive day with 11 lead changes up to lap 246 of the scheduled 400. That's when it began to rain.

All the lead lap cars immediately headed to the pits - except for one. Dave Marcis, driving for himself in his #71 independent Chevy stayed out and assumed the lead. Running under the yellow the rain soon became a frigid monsoon. The race was red flagged on lap 250 with Marcis in the lead and never restarted. The win would be the final trip to victory lane for the native of Wausau, Wisconsin.

Snow, drugs, ice, rain and the final Winston Cup win by one of NASCAR's most popular drivers. It was indeed a dramatic weekend on the NASCAR circuit.

From the pages of National Speed Sport News, here's a recap of the drug bust:

Black Thursday Saw Racers Arrested In Drug Ring
by Keith Waltz

Feb. 18, 1982, was identified as Black Thursday in the pages of National Speed Sport News as five prominent members of the South Florida auto-racing community, including NASCAR Winston Cup driver Gary Balough, were indicted on drug-trafficking charges.

The five were among 66 people charged in what FBI agents described as a multi-million dollar drug ring stretching from Florida to North Carolina. The indictments followed a long probe of alleged drug smuggling and other illegal activities among the Bahamas, several foreign countries and the Carolinas.

Other racing figures charged were Billie Harvey, Bruce Pee Wee Griffin, Herbert Tillman and Pete Pistone.

The FBI opened its investigation of Griffin in 1980 and agents identified Harvey and Griffin as the kingpins of the operation. FBI Agent Joe Corless said the drug ring had been making $300 million a year in profits since 1976.

The FBI confiscated approximately $6.5 million in property, including a 400-acre ranch in Floridas Broward County and a marina in Dania, Fla. Marijuana, rifles, pistols and shotguns were also seized.

FBI Special Agent Welton Merry said the ring consisted of four groups that imported and distributed at least a million pounds of marijuana a year. These people are the beginning of the octopus, Merry said.

According to the FBI, evidence showed that some of the suspects used their race cars to transport narcotics to other states.

Balough was released from a Miami jail on $100,000 bond and drove the No. 75 Rahmoc Racing Buick in that weekends Winston Cup race in Richmond, Va. Ironically; he was involved in an early accident and finished last in the 32-car field.

Id like to say a few things, but my lawyer says not to, Balough told reporters at the track. Maybe when its all over, Ill make some comments.

Others in the garage area said the publicity surrounding the arrests gave racing a black eye.

Chris Economakis column in the Feb. 24 issue of NSSN included: The unfortunate headlines of last week concerning a few racing insiders caught up in a drug investigation is another slap in the face for our sport. Unlike the moonshiners of the 30s and 40s who broke an unpopular law, drugs, particularly the hard ones, are a cancer on the American scene. Papers that wouldnt carry a race result if the mayor of their city won at Indy, bannered the racing connection of the drug story.

# # #

If you're interested in detailed information here is a pdf file link to the U.S. Attorney General's file on the matter:

http://www.archives.gov/news/john-roberts/accession-60-88-0498/010-organized-crime/folder010.pdf

1982 Richmond 400

NASCAR Winston Cup race number 2 of 30
Sunday, February 21, 1982 at Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway , Richmond, VA
400 laps* on a .542 mile paved track (216.8 miles)

Time of race: 1:51:30
Average Speed: 72.914 mph
Pole Speed: 93.256 mph
Cautions: 6 for 33 laps
Margin of Victory: under caution
Attendance: 28,000
Lead changes: 11
Fin St # Driver Sponsor / Owner Car Laps Money Status Led Points
1 6 71 Dave Marcis J.D. Stacy ( Dave Marcis ) Chevrolet 250 19,145 running 5 180
2 15 43 Richard Petty STP ( Petty Enterprises ) Pontiac 250 16,325 running 1 175
3 3 28 Benny Parsons J.D. Stacy ( Harry Ranier ) Pontiac 250 15,475 running 120 175
4 8 15 Dale Earnhardt Wrangler Jeans ( Bud Moore ) Ford 250 10,960 running 1 165
5 10 44 Terry Labonte J.D. Stacy ( Billy Hagan ) Chevrolet 249 6,330 running 0 155
6 5 50 Joe Millikan Performance Connection ( Cliff Stewart ) Pontiac 249 8,635 running 0 150
7 21 21 Neil Bonnett National Engineering ( Wood Brothers ) Ford 249 2,970 running 0 146
8 13 88 Bobby Allison Gatorade ( DiGard ) Chevrolet 249 6,910 running 0 142
9 9 47 Ron Bouchard J.D. Stacy ( Jack Beebe ) Buick 249 7,710 running 0 138
10 2 98 Morgan Shepherd Levi Garrett ( Ron Benfield ) Buick 248 2,010 running 31 139
11 17 12 Tommy Ellis Industrial Boiler ( Tommy Ellis ) Chevrolet 248 1,610 running 0 130
12 20 9 Bill Elliott Melling Tool ( Harry Melling ) Ford 247 1,590 running 0 127
13 18 90 Jody Ridley J.D. Stacy ( Junie Donlavey ) Ford 246 7,570 running 0 124
14 23 67 Buddy Arrington Buddy Arrington Dodge 245 3,850 running 0 121
15 4 2 Joe Ruttman J.D. Stacy ( Jim Stacy ) Buick 244 4,395 crash 78 123
16 24 97 Bob Schacht Test Tube ( Bob Schacht ) Oldsmobile 244 1,285 running 0 115
17 26 48 Slick Johnson Palatine Auto Parts ( James Hylton ) Pontiac 244 3,285 running 0 112
18 32 52 Jimmy Means Broadway Motors ( Jimmy Means ) Chevrolet 244 3,080 running 0 109
19 22 17 Lake Speed Kings Inn ( Roger Hamby ) Buick 244 2,975 running 0 106
20 16 42 Kyle Petty STP ( Petty Enterprises ) Pontiac 243 2,890 running 0 103
21 31 64 Tommy Gale Sunny King ( Elmo Langley ) Ford 242 2,645 running 0 100
22 14 3 Ricky Rudd Piedmont Airlines ( Richard Childress ) Pontiac 242 2,450 running 0 97
23 27 70 J.D. McDuffie Mack's Stores ( J.D. McDuffie ) Pontiac 241 2,095 running 0 94
24 30 24 Lennie Pond Washington Freightliner ( Cecil Gordon ) Buick 239 2,060 running 0 91
25 29 40 Tommy Houston Midlothian Texaco ( D.K. Ulrich ) Buick 238 875 running 0 88
26 12 02 Mark Martin Apache Stove ( Bud Reeder ) Pontiac 210 1,340 running 0 85
27 1 11 Darrell Waltrip Mountain Dew ( Junior Johnson ) Buick 206 10,905 running 14 87
28 28 92 Joe Fields Richmond Printing ( Joe Fields ) Buick 190 770 running 0 79
29 19 6 D.K. Ulrich D.K. Ulrich Buick 169 1,235 engine 0 76
30 7 33 Harry Gant 7-Eleven / Skoal Bandit ( Hal Needham ) Buick 138 1,200 engine 0 73
31 25 37 Tom Sneva Simoniz ( Bob Rogers ) Buick 94 1,225 rear end 0 70
32 11 75 Gary Balough Sanyo ( RahMoc Enterprises ) Buick 42 1,200 crash 0 67

* Race shortened to 250 laps due to rain.




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"

updated by @dave-fulton: 12/05/16 04:00:58PM
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
7 years ago
9,134 posts

Here's a clip of the rainy end to the February 21, 1982 Richmond 400 when Dave Marcis scored his final victory. All of the event segments are posted on YouTube.




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
7 years ago
4,072 posts

Marcis caught at least 3 big breaks that day:

  • A blown tire and wreck by Joe Ruttman who seemed to be class of the field at that point of the race. Ruttman was in the JD Stacy Buick serviced by crew chief ... Dale Inman.
  • The rain and ill-timed pit stops by the lead cars in front of him.
  • And a mid-race spin by Joe Millikan right in front of Marcis. - Getty Images




--
Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
Leon Phillips
@leon-phillips
7 years ago
626 posts

Thanks Dave that was good look at that line up of drivers that was in that race that was something LOL and i am frinds with Gary Balough on FB now

Jay Coker
@jay-coker
7 years ago
177 posts

You also forgot to mention this was the weekend that Bobby Allison drove THROUGH the first turnguardrail in practice.

Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
7 years ago
9,134 posts

Thanks, Jay. I had completely forgotten about NASCAR allowing Bobby to rebuild his car on Saturday night after the track closed in one of the exhibit buildings on the fairgrounds.




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
Jay Coker
@jay-coker
7 years ago
177 posts

If you have the original ESPN broadcast of the race like I do, they show the crew building the car overnight during the intro to the song Night Owls by Little River band. Apparently they borrowed a lot of the parts from the #47 Ron Bouchard team, and when they showed the rebuilt car, you could definitely tell there was some serious modification, as the fender lines were still not exactly right. Bobby ran a Buick that season, but I'm not sure if they borrowed a Chevy front end for the race, but it was definitely a Monte Carlo front on the car on race day.

TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
7 years ago
4,072 posts

Might try to engage Gary Nelson on Twitter to see what he remembers. He was great at sharing some info with me a year or so ago about SABCO's first car for Kyle Petty and the aero work DiGard did on Bobby's 1982 Daytona Buick.




--
Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
5 years ago
4,072 posts

Bump




--
Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
10 months ago
9,134 posts

Bump for 40th anniversary of Dave Marcis' final win.




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"