Today we are going to travel back to 1962 and take a "beach trip". The current Myrtle Beach Speedway is located on the same piece of real estate where the Rambi Raceway of 1962 sat back in the day, but the track was quite different then. In 1962 the track was a half mile dirt track with slightly banked turns and no outside guardrails on the turns. No need for SAFER barriers, you just ran off the track and into the swamp. Had to be careful of the alligators, but otherwise chances of personal injury were slim. Damage to the car was another story but usually, once the swamp water drained, the car was useable again.
Ned Jarrett put his B.G. Holloway 1962 Chevy on the pole for this 100 mile/200 lap race. Joe Weatherly in the Bud Moore '61 Pontiac would start second. Nineteen cars started the race.
The references I use for this series does not record lap leaders or many specifics at all about this race, but my Uncle Bobby and I were in attendance. I do remember a bad crash in the race by Buck Baker driving his Chrysler and that is mentioned in Greg Fielden's record, but my recollection of any other details seem to slipped into oblivion.
Jack Smith took the checkered flag for his third win of the season out of fourteen races thus far run. Second place was two laps down and third place five laps down. It is worth reporting that Wendell Scott, in only his second season in the Grand National (now Cup) Division ran in the top five, after qualifying sixth, until an A-frame broke on lap 176 and relegated him to a 9th place finish.
Top five finishers were:
1. Jack Smith, Pontiac, winning $1,000.00
2. Richard Petty, Plymouth, winning $600.00
3. Ned Jarrett, Chevrolet, winning $600.00
4. Tom Cox, Plymouth, winning $300.00 (Tom was a rookie at the time)
5.Curtis Crider, Mercury, winning $275.00
Sixth through tenth went to Fred Harb, George Green, Frank Graham, Wendell Scott, and Neil Castles. Other finishers of note were Herman Beam 11th, Joe Weatherly 13th, Buck Baker 16th, G.C. Spencer 17th and Jim Paschal 18th.
Every time I do one of these History Minutes from back in the 50s and 60s, I am always amazed at the low prize money. While I realize the value of a dollar was much higher in those days, it is still hard for me to believe $200.00 for 7th and payouts like $85.00 for 15th and going down fromthere, even paid the tire bill. Giving some thought to that, and the fact that most of these drivers were involved in towing cars to the track, working on the cars at the track, then towing them to the next race, it leaves little doubt that the total dedication of those individuals is part of what is missing in the sport today.
I've heard, first hand, the stories of sleeping in the race cars, of towing all night, racing 100 miles on a rough track then towing all night to the next one. I've heard the stories of four, five, or six drivers sharing a motel room to save money. I've heard the story of four drivers pooling what they had in their pocket to buy ONE hot dog at the track to split four ways while sharing the ONE coke they had. Today is race day (Sunday). While we watch today's race and see those million dollar hauler rigs and those multi-million dollar motor coaches, let's remember from where those came. Also think about when the race is over, the drivers helicopter to the air port where their private jet will carry them home. It is because of what folks like Jack, Ned, Richard, Wendell, Buck, and so many others did that has made that possible. Let us never forget that.
Honor the past, embrace the present, dream for the future.
updated by @tim-leeming: 12/05/16 04:00:58PM