Racing History Minute - September 17, 1961 with a bonus

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

I had entered a long and descriptive History Minute for this date in 1961 and the Atlanta Race, and 1978 for the Dover Race. However, when I tried to add it to the site, something happened and the entire post was lost. It took me over an hour to prepare the History Minute and it was gone in a flash. I have errands and appointments for today so I am hoping that TMC Chase and Dave Fulton can add some information about those two races as both were very interesting. The 1978 race was especially important as the pole winner for that event was one of the true journeymen racers of the day, J.D. McDuffie.

Sorry I have to leave. Computers and I never have gotten along.

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
9,124 posts

Associated Press Coverage in the Spartanburg Herald-Journal of September 17, 1961 Dixie 400 at Atlanta:

NOTE: Junior Johnson's relief driver, Ronald Blackburn of Fayetteville, NC is better known to most of us as "Bunkie" Blackburn.

March 3, 2006
Former NASCAR driver 'Bunkie' Blackburn dies at 69
COLUMBIA, Tenn. (AP) James Ronald "Bunkie" Blackburn, a former NASCAR driver who once won a race at Daytona International Speedway, died Tuesday. He was 69.

Blackburn died at his home, according to an announcement from Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home in Columbia, Tenn. His cause of death was not available Thursday night.

Blackburn drove in the Grand National and NASCAR circuits from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, driving for teams run by Smokey Yunick and Petty Enterprises.

He had four top-fives and 14 top-10s in the Grand National series, The Daily Herald in Columbia reported. Blackburn ran 71 races at 26 different tracks in his career.

His top finish was in 1968, when he won from the pole in the Permatex 300 for Late Model Sportsman, a fore-runner to the Busch Series. He also won poles at Talladega and Bristol and was inducted into the Pure Darlington Record Club in 1964 after posting a record qualifying time. He finished in the top 10 twice in the Daytona Firecracker 400.

Blackburn grew up surrounded by racing his father owned and operated a dirt track in his hometown of Fayetteville, N.C.

Blackburn also competed throughout the Middle Tennessee area on dirt tracks and at Nashville Speedway against drivers like Darrell Waltrip, who lives in Franklin, Tenn., and Coo Coo Marlin, the late father of current Nextel Cup driver Sterling Marlin, also of Columbia, Tenn.

He retired from racing after an injury and went to work for General Electric in Columbia for 20 years before retiring.

He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Nancy Hedrick Blackburn, three daughters, a son and 12 grandchildren. A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.

Below is the recap from Racing Reference:

1961 Dixie 400

NASCAR Grand National race number 46 of 52
Sunday, September 17, 1961 at Atlanta International Raceway, Hampton, GA
267 laps on a 1.500 mile paved track (400.5 miles)

Time of race: 3:11:39
Average Speed: 125.384 mph
Pole Speed: 136.294 mph Cautions: n/a
Margin of Victory: 5 sec
Attendance: 30,000
Lead changes: 7

Fin St # Driver Sponsor / Owner Car Laps Money Status Led 1 5 3 David Pearson Daytona Kennel (John Masoni) '61 Pontiac 267 9,330 running 4
2 9 27 Junior Johnson Holly Farms (Rex Lovette) '61 Pontiac 267 4,795 running 0
3 1 22 Fireball Roberts Smokey Yunick '61 Pontiac 267 3,165 running 27
4 13 47 Jack Smith Jack Smith '61 Pontiac 264 2,250 running 0
5 26 43 Richard Petty Petty Enterprises '61 Plymouth 264 1,625 running 0
6 24 14 Johnny Allen Joe Lee Johnson '61 Chevrolet 264 1,325 running 0
7 17 11 Ned Jarrett B.G. Holloway '61 Chevrolet 264 1,225 running 0
8 23 46 Bob Welborn Jack Smith '61 Pontiac 264 1,100 running 0
9 22 51 Woodie Wilson Leroy Faucett '61 Pontiac 262 1,000 running 0
10 11 6 Marvin Panch Cotton Owens '61 Pontiac 262 875 running 0
11 7 94 Banjo Matthews Banjo Matthews '61 Ford 262 1,485 engine 143
12 8 72 Bobby Johns Shorty Johns '61 Ford 261 705 running 11
13 14 44 Jim Paschal Julian Petty '61 Pontiac 260 650 running 0
14 15 85 Emanuel Zervakis Monroe Shook '61 Chevrolet 259 575 running 0
15 30 30 Tiny Lund Fred Clark '60 Chevrolet 259 550 running 0
16 3 8 Joe Weatherly Bud Moore '61 Pontiac 256 520 running 4
17 21 59 Ken Rush B.G. Holloway '61 Pontiac 255 450 running 0
18 10 4 Rex White White-Clements (Rex White) '61 Chevrolet 254 550 running 0
19 2 29 Nelson Stacy Holt-Stacy (Dudley Farrell) '61 Ford 243 845 engine 70
20 6 24 Darel Dieringer James Turner '60 Pontiac 238 575 crash 0
21 35 74 L.D. Austin L.D. Austin '61 Chevrolet 238 350 running 0
22 37 19 Herman Beam Herman Beam '60 Ford 235 350 running 0
23 25 68 Ed Livingston Curtis Crider '61 Ford 234 350 running 0
24 36 93 Lee Reitzel Lee Reitzel '60 Ford 226 350 running 0
25 16 87 Buck Baker Buck Baker '61 Chrysler 209 375 engine 0
26 20 32 Bill Morgan '61 Ford 203 325 piston 0
27 32 78 J.C. Hendrix Billie Ridgeway (W.J. Ridgeway) '60 Ford 202 300 con rod 0
28 33 96 Elmo Langley J.L. Cheatham '60 Chevrolet 180 300 engine 0
29 12 9 Bunkie Blackburn Wildcat Williams '61 Ford 174 375 engine 0
30 28 10 T.C. Hunt Fred Wheat '61 Dodge 153 300 engine 0
31 34 48 G.C. Spencer G.C. Spencer '60 Chevrolet 124 250 engine 0
32 38 71 Bob Barron Bob Barron '60 Chevrolet 104 250 engine 0
33 39 23 Doug Yates Raeford Johnson '61 Plymouth 65 250 oil pressure 0
34 31 99 George Alsobrook Joe Jones '61 Ford 63 250 piston 0
35 29 5 Ralph Earnhardt Leroy Faucett '60 Pontiac 62 250 transmission 0
36 4 28 Fred Lorenzen Holman-Moody '61 Ford 52 315 crash 8
37 19 90 Dave Mader Dave Mader '61 Chevrolet 51 250 crash 0
38 17 80 Tubby Gonzales Tubby Gonzales '61 Ford 47 250 engine 0
39 18 86 Herb Tillman Buck Baker '61 Chrysler 46 275 oil pressure 0
40 42 15 Jesse James Taylor Beau Morgan '61 Ford 10 250 engine 0
41 41 62 Curtis Crider Curtis Crider '61 Mercury 3 200 bearing 0
42 40 2 Tommy Irwin Tom Daniels '61 Chevrolet 0 200 piston 0

Failed to qualify: Tony Lavati (#66)

Lap leader breakdown:
Leader From
Lap To
Lap # Of
Laps
Fireball Roberts 1 27 27
Fred Lorenzen 28 35 8
Nelson Stacy 36 52 17
Joe Weatherly 53 56 4
Banjo Matthews 57 199 143
Bobby Johns 200 210 11
Nelson Stacy 211 263 53
David Pearson 264 267 4




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
5 years ago
9,124 posts

Running McCreary Tires, the late J.D. McDuffie earned his only NASCAR Winston Cup Series career pole position start in qualifying for the September 17, 1978 Delaware 500 at Dover Downs International Speedway. J.D. led the first ten laps in the event won by Bobby Allison.

News coverage clips below are from the Wilmington Star-News, Rome News-Tribune, Reading Eagle and St. Petersburg Times.

Box score below from Racing Reference:

1978 Delaware 500

NASCAR Winston Cup race number 24 of 30
Sunday, September 17, 1978 at Dover Downs International Speedway, Dover, DE
500 laps on a 1.000 mile paved track (500.0 miles)

Time of race: 4:11:20
Average Speed: 119.323 mph
Pole Speed: 135.48 mph Cautions: 3 for 18 laps
Margin of Victory: 19.7 sec
Attendance: 30,000
Lead changes: 7

Fin St # Driver Sponsor / Owner Car Laps Money Status Led Points
1 2 15 Bobby Allison Norris Industries (Bud Moore) Ford 500 19,500 running 267 185
2 8 11 Cale Yarborough 1st National City Travelers Checks (Junior Johnson) Oldsmobile 500 15,100 running 221 175
3 6 27 Buddy Baker M.C. Anderson Chevrolet 499 8,700 running 1 170
4 5 21 David Pearson Purolator (Wood Brothers) Mercury 498 4,600 running 0 160
5 7 88 Darrell Waltrip Gatorade (DiGard) Chevrolet 497 7,000 running 1 160
6 14 90 Dick Brooks Truxmore (Junie Donlavey) Ford 496 4,300 running 0 150
7 12 54 Lennie Pond W.I.N. (Harry Ranier) Oldsmobile 493 5,300 running 0 146
8 10 2 Dave Marcis Rod Osterlund Chevrolet 493 3,130 running 0 142
9 13 1 Donnie Allison Grog Pond (Pee Wee Griffin) Oldsmobile 489 1,800 running 0 138
10 15 92 Dick May Duck Industries (Billy Hagan) Chevrolet 485 3,220 running 0 134
11 16 25 Ronnie Thomas Autowize (Norman Negre) Chevrolet 483 3,560 running 0 130
12 3 3 Richard Childress CRC Chemicals (Richard Childress) Oldsmobile 482 3,340 running 0 127
13 18 48 Al Holbert Southland Industries (James Hylton) Chevrolet 472 2,655 running 0 124
14 27 24 Cecil Gordon Transmissions Unlimited (Cecil Gordon) Chevrolet 468 2,470 running 0 121
15 29 8 Ed Negre Jones Chrysler-Plymouth (Ed Negre) Dodge 467 2,285 running 0 118
16 26 01 Earle Canavan Earle Canavan Dodge 460 1,200 running 0
17 20 64 Tommy Gale Sunny King Ford & Honda (Elmo Langley) Ford 458 1,975 running 0 112
18 22 17 Roger Hamby Hamby-Ellis (Roger Hamby) Chevrolet 457 1,050 running 0 109
19 31 34 Nestor Peles Steve Peles Chevrolet 439 1,000 running 0 106
20 21 4 Gary Myers Spencer's Baby Wear (Gary Myers) Chevrolet 438 900 engine 0 103
21 32 79 Frank Warren Native Tan (Frank Warren) Dodge 438 1,440 running 0 100
22 23 67 Buddy Arrington Lafayette Radio (Buddy Arrington) Dodge 432 1,405 running 0 97
23 30 45 Baxter Price Baxter Price Chevrolet 420 1,345 running 0 94
24 36 09 Nelson Oswald G & S Truck Service (Nelson Oswald) Chevrolet 335 700 engine 0 91
25 19 30 Tighe Scott Russ Togs (Walter Ballard) Chevrolet 320 1,275 oil pan 0 88
26 9 72 Benny Parsons 1st National City Travelers Checks (L.G. DeWitt) Chevrolet 311 4,350 engine 0 85
27 11 43 Richard Petty STP (Petty Enterprises) Chevrolet 269 4,525 ignition 0 82
28 25 29 Dave Dion Green Mountain (Dave Dion) Ford 238 600 engine 0 79
29 4 5 Neil Bonnett Armor All (Rod Osterlund) Oldsmobile 220 3,775 crash 0 76
30 28 97 Ralph Jones Ralph Jones Ford 186 550 engine 0 73
31 33 19 Joey Arrington Rossmeyer (Buddy Arrington) Dodge 143 1,040 rear end 0 70
32 24 52 Jimmy Means Means Racing (Jimmy Means) Chevrolet 140 1,030 engine 0 67
33 1 70 J.D. McDuffie Bailey Excavating (J.D. McDuffie) Chevrolet 80 1,520 engine 10 69
34 17 18 James Hylton Hylton Engineering (James Hylton) Chevrolet 10 510 quit 0
35 37 35 Louis Gatto L & J Automotive Chevrolet 5 500 flagged 0 58
36 34 61 Ferrel Harris Jones Chrysler-Plymouth (Ed Negre) Chrysler 3 490 quit 0
37 35 81 Jabe Thomas Louise Smith (Don Robertson) Chevrolet 1 480 quit 0 52

Lap leader breakdown:
Leader From
Lap To
Lap # Of
Laps
J.D. McDuffie 1 10 10
Bobby Allison 11 20 10
Cale Yarborough 21 97 77
Darrell Waltrip 98 98 1
Cale Yarborough 99 242 144
Bobby Allison 243 317 75
Buddy Baker 318 318 1
Bobby Allison 319 500 182




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
5 years ago
3,980 posts

Race program and lineup sheet.




--
Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
5 years ago
9,124 posts

And the Edwin Matthews in the news report was better known to us as "Banjo."




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
5 years ago
3,980 posts

George Alsobrook who started 18 races from 1958 through 1962. Started 31st and finished 34th after burning a piston in his Joe Jones owned Ford.




--
Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
5 years ago
3,980 posts

Ray Lamm has this 1961 Atlanta photo in his collection. It isn't identified as being from the spring race or the Dixie 400. However, I'm speculating it was taken early in the Dixie 400 based on Fireball Roberts and Nelson Stacy starting 1-2 in it.




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

updated by @tmc-chase: 09/17/18 12:41:22PM
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
5 years ago
9,124 posts

From the Milwaukee Sentinel:

From the Schenectady Gazette:




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
5 years ago
9,124 posts

The 38th place finisher in the 1961 Dixie 400 was Tubby Gonzales. He only started 9 career Cup races, but it may be the race he didn't start that helped a legend of our sport get a toe hold. It happened earlier in 1961 at Daytona.

Here's the story as recounted in Motor Sports Weekly News:

How Tubby Gonzales Helped Create a NASCAR Legend



January 5, 2009

By: Drew Hierwarter

Fred Lorenzen was one of the earliest superstars of NASCAR. In 1963 he was the first driver to earn more than $100,000 in a single season. In 29 races that year he had an amazing 23 top ten finishes, 21 top fives, and 6 wins. During his career he drove for some of the biggest names in the sport. People like Hoss Ellington, Ray Nichels, the legendary Ford factory team of Holman-Moody, and Tubby Gonzales.

Wait a minute, Tubby who?

Tubby Gonzales was a race car driver from Houston Texas who wanted to test his fortunes in NASCAR's top circuit. In 1961 he came to Florida and attempted to get his Ford into the prestigious Daytona 500. He started 11th in his 100 mile qualifying event but dropped out after only nine laps. It looked like that was going to be that for Gonzales but little did he know that his Daytona experience wasn't quite over yet. Fred Lorenzen was also in Daytona for the 500 that year.

Lorenzen had been driving his own car on a meager budget for the two previous seasons. Making races when he could afford to, sitting them out when he had to. He made 10 starts in 1960 and when he was able to finish, he usually finished well. Well enough to catch the eye of Fords Ralph Moody.

But by the end of 1960 Lorenzen was broke and back home working as carpenter. He thought his racing days were over. On Christmas Eve of 1960, Lorenzen got a phone call that would change his life. It was Ralph Moody offering to hire Fred to drive the mighty factory supported Holman-Moody Ford for the entire 1961 season.

So there was Lorenzen in Daytona 1961 with Holman-Moody. But the problem was they had no car. There just hadn't been time to get one prepared for him to drive. And now the story shifts to a New England Ford dealer and racer named Bob Tasca. Tasca knew about Tubby Gonzales and knew that Gonzales car was available. So he put Gonzales together with Ralph Moody and the deal was made for Holman-Moody to take over Gonzales car and put Lorenzen in the drivers seat.

Fred Lorenzen started the 1961 Daytona 500 in 45th place, and nobody had any unrealistic expectations about the result. But Lorenzen had more than enough talent and he brought this unheralded car home in fourth place. Not only was he the highest finishing Ford in the race, but his car was the only brand other than the dominant Pontiacs of the day to finish in the top six!

Lorenzen drove real Holman-Moody cars in 14 more races that year and got three wins, six top fives, and six top tens. It was the beginning of a decade long career that brought fame and a large fortune to the man from Elmhurst ,Illinois who might not have made it but for the use of a car owned by Tubby Gonzales.




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
5 years ago
9,124 posts

By the way... Tubby Gonzales had a tough time getting to Atlanta from Houston, Texas for the spring 1961 Atlanta 500 as recounted by United Press International:




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
5 years ago
3,980 posts

Some pics from the 1978 Delaware 500.

Race program

A couple of neat photo pages from inside it featuring The King, Benny Parsons, and Marty Robbins.

And several nice shots from Lee Greenawalt collection

Neil Bonnett in an Olds after Jim Stacy had to rent rides for him after his program started to belly up. This 442 actually lists Rod Osterland as the owner vs. Stacy.

Smut Means - a former track champion at Nashville's Fairgrounds Speedway

DW - another 2x champion from Nashville

Gary Myers

And in my best attempt at typing a track PA announcer...

Your pole winner ... from SANford North CaroLINa ... in his Bailey Excavating Chevrolet ... sporting McCreary tires: Jaayyy Dee McDufffieee




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

updated by @tmc-chase: 08/23/18 06:05:36PM
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
5 years ago
3,980 posts

Looking back, I count myself privileged for having met J.D. briefly a few months earlier at Nashville. As a young teen, the June 1978 Music City 420 was my first Cup race. J.D. was one of a handful of drivers who autographed my program with a ballpoint stick pen.

J.D.'s pole winning effort at Dover also earned him a spot in the inaugural Busch Clash at Daytona in February 1979.

The starting positions for the Clash were determined by pulling a numbered beer can from an ice cold container. He was hoping to be up front or out back. Turns out he drew for 5th starting spot. The following article was written by Joe Biddle when he was a young sports reporter for the [Daytona Beach Morning Journal ]. Soon afterwards, he moved to Nashville where he was a long-time reporter and columnist for the Nashville Banner and The Tennessean. Joe told me he didn't know much about motorsports. But his sports editor said "Go cover it." So he did. And the articles I've read by him from that magical February 1979 Speedweeks were all well done.




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

updated by @tmc-chase: 08/23/18 06:06:05PM
Tim Leeming
@tim-leeming
5 years ago
3,119 posts

Thanks guys. I appreciate you jumping in for me. I had written what I considered to be a nice tribute to J.D. McDuffie in the piece I wrote, as well as a good piece on how Pearson won at Atlanta but the old computer just locked up, then deleted everything I had spent an hour typing. I will learn, from now on, to post a paragraph or two and save and keep doing it that way. I am really sorry we lost what I had written but you two did an absolutely outstanding job making a great "Minute" out of nothing.

Sandeep Banerjee
@sandeep-banerjee
5 years ago
360 posts

Can't say enough about these tidbits added on to the minutes. Makes hours out of minutes!

Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
4 years ago
9,124 posts

Back in the original days of the Busch Clash at Daytona each February for the previous season's Winston Cup pole winners, a "wild card" position was also added to the field each year drawn from the fastest qualifier in 2nd round qualifying - back when tracks had 2-3 qualifying sessions spread over as many days.

We've recapped how JD McDuffie became eligible for the inaugural Busch Clash in 1979.

Here's a photo of Busch Beer representative, Ned Jarrett presenting a 2 Round fastest qualifier award to the 1978 Delaware 500 pole winner, JD McDuffie for leading 2nd round qualifying at Michigan's 1982 Gabriel 400:

ISC/Racing One/Getty




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
4 years ago
9,124 posts

Here's a feature on JD McDuffie done by Ken Squier that aired during the 1985 Daytona 500 CBS telecast. Knowing what the future would hold, it's hard not to get a little misty eyed when JD's wife tells Squier how she worries for his safety on the track and has tried to get him to quit racing:




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
4 weeks ago
3,980 posts

Pearson won the 1961 Atlanta race, and Bunky Blackburn was a the wheel of Junior Johnson's car at the finish. But it was ol' Junior Johnson who got the squeezins in victory lane!

1961 Atlanta Junior Johnson 091861AtlantaConstitution.png
Pearson and car owner Ray Fox missed out on the kisses. But they went home with the dough & that's really all that concerned Fox.
1961 Atlanta Ray Fox 091861AtlantaConstitution.png



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

updated by @tmc-chase: 09/17/18 12:59:46PM
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
4 weeks ago
9,124 posts

NASCAR scoring... Glad Junior got his kiss, just as he got his trophy at the Darlington Larry Frank win




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