Racing History Minute - June 9, 1966

Tim Leeming
@tim-leeming
5 years ago
3,119 posts

For today's History Minute, I chose a return to Smoky Mountain Raceway in Maryville, TN. Twenty-six of the "good old boys" would check in to race 100 miles on the half-mile dirt track on this day. The race, designated as the "East Tennessee 200" and drew 4,500 fans to watch the battle.

Tiger Tom Pistone qualified on the pole with PAUL LEWIS (the man who inspired Jeff Gilder to create this site) started second, James Hylton third, and David Pearson fourth. The green flag waved and Tiger Tom bolted out front where he would stay for 72 laps, never seriously challenged for the lead although three cars waged a war for second place. On lap 70, steam began to pour from the front of Pistone's number 59 Ford and on lap 72 he slid into the pits to cool the engine. After losing a couple laps, Pistone returned to the track, but 20 laps later was back in the pits for good with his Ford finished for the day.

Pearson took over the top spot upon Pistone's departure but holding on to the lead was treacherous as Paul Lewis lurked in second place behind the Cotton Owens Dodge lap after lap until losing first one lap, then a second lap as Pearson would go on to lead all the remaining laps after Pistone parked his Ford. With a hand full of laps remaining, Buck Baker was able to "squeak past" Lewis to move into second place.

For Pearson, who would go on to win a total 105 times in Grand National (now Cup) racing, this was victory 21. It was also David's eighth win in the 24 race old 1966 season. David said, after the race, that "once Pistone went out, there wasn't much competition".

Top five finishers were:

1. David Pearson, Cotton Owens Dodge, winning $1,000.00

2. Buck Baker, Baker Oldsmobile, winning $600.00

3. Paul Lewis, Lewis Plymouth, winning $400.00

4. Elmo Langley, Langley-Woodfield Ford, winning $300.00

5. Doug Cooper, Bob Cooper Plymouth, winning $275.00

Sixth through tenth were Blackie Watt, John Sears, JamesHylton, Buddy Baker and Neil Castles.

Fourteen was Roy Tyner, Wendell Scott 17th, Darel Dieringer 18th, Tiger Tom Pistone 18th, Tiny Lund 20th, and J. D. McDuffie 21st. J.T. Putney finished 25th and Stick Elliott was 26th after completing only 6 laps before experiencing drive shaft issues.

Personally, I think the payday for drivers in those days was really sad. The winner received the perfunctory $1,000.00 which seems to have beenTHE big pay day for the short track races of the era, but the money dropped off quickly after that. For instance, 10th place received $140.00, which still in the ball park for the era was not substantial even in 1966 dollars.Postions 14th through 22nd all received $100.00. The last four positions received nothing, zero dollars. I can't help but contrast that with today's huge pay days even for the "start and park" drivers. To me, this just adds more importance to what the guys who built this sport gave to make it grow. I suppose it is no small wonder that I so deeply admire the drivers of those days and hold them in special esteem.

Oh, and speaking of Paul Lewis, join the Racing History Minute in July for a story of his win in the Cup Series at this same track.

Honor the past, embrace the present, dream for the future.


updated by @tim-leeming: 12/05/16 04:00:58PM
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
5 years ago
9,120 posts

Thanks, Tim.

Tiger Tom kept putting that '64 Ford on the pole with those twin 4bbls during the 1966 Ford boycott.




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
5 years ago
9,120 posts

The June 6, 1966 Hendersonville (NC) Times-News carried this United Press International preview:




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
5 years ago
9,120 posts

Maryville was the third of Tom's four 1966 poles with that twin 4bbl setup, beginning at Columbia and including Richmond and Islip as well as Maryville.




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
5 years ago
3,953 posts

Very concise race report from Spartanburg's paper.

And here is a pic of Pearson's Coronet. Source: Tribute to East Tennessee Racing




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.

updated by @tmc-chase: 06/09/17 10:52:08AM
Andy DeNardi
@andy-denardi
5 years ago
365 posts

Eight wins in ten races. The Jimmy Johnson haters don't know how good they got it.

Races back then were made more interesting because you didn't have the same top drivers show up every week. Sometimes only Petty would show up and the start-and-parkers had a chance for a win. A big event would be really special because all the best drivers showed up, even guys from other sanctioning bodies.

With all of the money these guys are making, you'd think they'd want to take a few days off. There aren't many full-season sponsors, so Jeff Gordon might only drive the ones where Axalta was on the fenders. Danica can drive just the ones where the fans voted her in.

TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
5 years ago
3,953 posts

That really is a good point. NASCAR paid show money for years to fill their fields. But the money STILL wasn't enough to get the Woods to every show throughout their dominant period with Pearson in the 70s. Now that the takehome pay for the drivers is so great, it is a bit surprising more of them - and their teams - aren't taking the Mark Martin approach.

In the era of full sponsorship for all 30+ races, I'm guessing the corporate deals had a performance clause to race each week barring injury. But if a team can only fund 24 races, so be it. I'm sure the dangling carrot, however, is the Sprint bump at the end of the season. Also, I'm not clear how the TV money is allocated to teams and/or drivers. It may simply be too lucrative for a team or driver to consciously go part-time.




--
Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
5 years ago
3,953 posts

Found these photos from the 1966 East Tennessee 200 at Historical Stock Car Forum tonight.

Credit: dalejuniorfanatic

He has several more photos from this race at that forum. I think you have to be a member to view them. The forum is a great resource for photos from across the decades.

Paul Lewis in his #1 J&J Auto Sales Plymouth
2vim8sl.jpg
David Pearson
2zz6tfk.jpg
Tiger Tom
33uc02a.jpg




--
Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.

updated by @tmc-chase: 06/09/18 07:16:15PM
Andy DeNardi
@andy-denardi
5 years ago
365 posts

Well then Kyle Busch should go on the Pearson plan. In my opinion, he has the talent to dominate but it seems certain that nobody needs to worry whether he's in the chase or not.

I wouldn't want to go back to the days of teams demanding show money, it's unfair to the majority of teams. One of Tim's race minutes had an example where Richard was getting paid as much to show up as to win the race. We already have guys that lay back all season until the chase.

At the current salaries, drivers should be hurt too bad by running a partial season. It would give guys a chance to run a few different series like they used to. Contracts prohibit running different sanctions now, but I think the drivers could push back if they knew they had the time to run other races. The teams could still run the full season if they wanted to. They still have team championships don't they? But they could run a few different drivers. Some small teams already do, and it's been working out for MWR. I could easily see Tony Stewart cutting back his schedule and having Newman run the #14 most of the season.

TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
2 weeks ago
3,953 posts

Bump




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.