Racing History Minute - June 10, 1973
Stock Car Racing History
Texas sized bump...or perhaps Remember The Alamo 500!
updated by @tmc-chase: 06/10/18 10:25:26AM
Surfaced this article today from the April 22, 1969 archives of The Messenger-Inquirer of Owensboro, KY.
Waltrip's GT Racing Debut Darkened By Two Blown Tires
By DAVE CALLAHAN
A pair of blown tires cast a light shadow on the race that launched Darrell Waltrip's GT racing career Sunday, but a bright horizon appears to be shining in the future for the young Owensboro driver.
The 1968 Mustang which Waltrip piloted to the 15th spot in the NASCAR-sanctioned Bluegrass 300 at Ellis Speedway looked a little out of place. Its dark gray coat of primer paint and lonesome "72" on the doors contrasted with all the other shimmering, brightly colored GTs, which were covered with names of drivers, crew members and the all-important sponsors. But the hometown boy, in his just-completed machine, showed that he could stay with them.
Waltrip held the ninth position through most of the race against the nation's top Grand Touring Division cars and drivers, but a blown tire on the 178th lap set him 20 circuits behind the leaders. Waltrip was in the race for only 34 laps before his right front tire blew again and this time it cost the local boy 26 laps.
"I think if we had not had the tire trouble, we would have finished at least fourth," Waltrip said following his first Grand Touring race. "It wasn't really the fault of the tires. We had some suspension trouble because we didn't have time to test the car out. You see, this is the first time the car has ever been on the track. We've been building the car for the past week and a half and just got it finished last night," Waltrip, who at 22 is the youngest driver on the NASCAR circuit, said.
Working with three shifts, 24 hours a day, Waltrip's crew finished the car just hours before race time. "I'm not at all disappointed," Waltrip stated. "If we had had another day of work, I believe we would have been up there with the best of them. The only problem we had, other than with the tires, was that the car was not geared correctly. Because of this, we didn't have the needed power out of the corners. But this, as with the problem with the suspension, was due to our not checking out the car."
In the early going, it looked as though Waltrip was going to show the big boys up before the local crowd of 3,000. Starting from dead last (because he didn't have the car prepared in time for Saturday's time trials), Waltrip quickly moved in and out of traffic during the first two Laps, passing seven cars to take the 13th spot.
Where will Waltrip go from here? "From now on, I'll go to most all the races on the GT circuit. I'll miss a few in the North, but I'll go to all the ones in the South."
Waltrip will be in the Maryville 200 at Maryville, Tenn., on May 3. "Before Maryville, we'll paint the car and make all the necessary adjustments in the suspension and gear ratio," Waltrip concluded.
Over the past couple of weeks, I've noticed my activity page is filled with daily birthday notifications in the timeline. This is in addition to the left hand frame of thumbnails of those having birthdays. Not to be a jerk, but is it really necessary to have them fill the timeline too - especially when so few of the names are regular contributors to this site? I'm OK with the side frame as a visual reminder - but I personally don't prefer having them threaded into the timeline. There isn't a lot going on here these days, but it doesn't help to have all that additional info.
Brandon - Saw your tweet yesterday, and glad to see you posted today. I've long had the same question about Ski-King. Was it a sponsor? An early Petty nickname? After digging it into it a bit more over night, I THINK I may have found something that may make sense.
Hank Schoolfield was the long-time publisher of the bi-weekly Southern MotoRacing paper. In 1959, he was sports editor for the Winston-Salem newspaper. In July 1959, he penned a comical story - and allegedly a true one - of two buffoons out for a day of skiing on a NC lake. The two characters? Ski-King and Daddy-O. On August 16, 1959 the Asheville Citizen Times ran a story that referenced Schoolfield's story.
ASHEVILLE CITIZEN-TIMES. ASHEVILLE, NC Sunday, August 16, 1959
By now, virtually everyone who water skies and practically everyone else has heard varying accounts of "Ski King," the novice skier who, despite valiant efforts, failed to make it up on his first try. "Ski King" overnight has become a legendary figure in the boating world. The tale of his classic attempt at water skiing is being told throughout the Southeast.
At lakes everywhere, it is now possible to hear boat drivers asking their skier: "Is you ready, Ski King?" The answer is invariably: "Let 'er go, Daddy-O." All of this is true because of "Ski King," the champion of water skiers everywhere.
However, "Ski King" may never have come to light had it not been for Hank Schoolfield, sports director of the Winston-Salem Journal-Sentinel. His account of the incident, reprinted here by permission, is practical a classic itself. The story appeared in the Winston-Salem newspaper July 12.
The regulations make it necessary for the boat operator to report all accidents involving injury or death to persons or property damage over $100. Motorboat operators must stop and render assistance if involved in a boating accident.
Good morning, sports fans, and hark to the story of a real spoat. That's right, spoat. A spoat, in case you didn't know, is a spoat who becomes a goat with a boat. This particular spoat is the subject of one of those rare "true stories" which apparently is truly true. It is a yarn with such qualities of drama and narrative that it has become in the short span of a week, a classic. It occurred last Sunday at High Rock Lake, according to the witnesses who have described it.
The spoat was a cat who can be identified only as Ski King. He is not to be confused with Sky King, the aerial hero of a cracker mill's Saturday morning television series. This is Ski King, a man whose fame is somewhat aerial, but who is above all a spoat.
Here is how the story goes: They arrived at lakeside in a Cadillac, towing a shiny new boat equipped with one of those monstrous outboard engines which you're strictly from Hunger if you haven't got. All this equipment was strictly spoaty, of course. And with it was a set of water skis and a skein of tow rope.
They slid the boat off the trailer into the water; Ski King got into his skis, and was standing on the sand a foot or two from the water's edge. In the boat, the other spoat, and his name is Daddy-O, cranked the engine and throttled her to a throaty growl with the transmission in neutral.
Just to make sure there would be no slippage, Ski King wrapped the tow line around his arm a few times. There were 50 to 100 feet of the line coiled at his feet.
Ski King Was Really Ready
The obviously spoaty actions of two such spoats had attracted by this time, quite naturally, the attention of most of the crowd on the beach.
From the boat came the dramatic notice that action was about to get under way:
"IS YOU READY, SKI KING?"
And from the beach, with a nonchalance which denoted confidence and willingness, came the answer:
"LET 'ER GO, DADDY-O!"
Whereupon, with the roar of internal combustion splitting the tension which hung heavy over the gallery, Daddy-O proceeded to let 'er go. Wide open, man, wide open.
The exact details of what happened after that have been told with slight variations. Some witnesses have said the boat readied a speed of about 20 miles per hour before it took the slack out of the tow line. Others estimated it as high as 35 miles per hour. Estimates of the length of the tow line varied from 50 to 100 feet.
Those trivialities aside, the remainder of the story has the distinction of having been told many times without variance. Just like Cape Canaveral, Ski King left the beach with a ballistic arch which would have aroused envy at Cape Canaveral. He traveled some 50 feet through the air and made his first skiing attempt a rather sensational exhibition of involuntary diving. Ski King was separated from his skis by that initial impact. But he had done an excellent job of wrapping the tow line around his arm, and the ride was just beginning.
Daddy-O, meanwhile, wasn't looking back. His hand was on the throttle and his mind was up ahead. Ski King made several trips, alternately by air and by water, in what was described as the best imitation of a porpoise ever seen in fresh water. Daddy-O finally caught on and stopped the boat and another craft in the area converged on the scene. Ski King was fished out of the water and rushed to a hospital. He had a broken arm, fairly serious as broken bones go, but probably not as painful as the injury to the dignity of a spoat. There was not a word available on whether Sid King plans to try to make a comeback.
The moral to this story, of course, is that when you buy a high-powered boat and a set of water skis you should ask for an instruction booklet.
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I also learned songwriter E.C. Beatty cut a song that fall based on the epic fail of Ski-King and Daddy-O.
The supposed actual event, Schoolfield's column, and the song all were the buzz in the summer and fall of 1959. Perhaps Richard was tagged with the Ski-King nickname vs his previous Squirrel Jr one. If so, here is perhaps a fresh question: Did Lee run Daddy-O on his #42 Plymouth?
Three more that come to mind.
In the late 1950s, McCormick Field was converted from a minor league ballpark into a race track. McCormick even hosted a GN race in 1958.
When the Nashville Vols minor league team folded, Sulphur Dell Field was converted into Sulphur Dell Speedway for a couple of brief seasons in mid 1960s. Today, Nashville's new ballpark - First Tennessee Park - sits on the site for the Nashville Sounds.
New York City:
When the New York Giants MLB team headed to northern California, its former stadium stood empty. Promoter and NASCAR exec Ed Otto hosted a NASCAR Short Track Division race at the Polo Grounds.
Interesting find Dennis. Story hits a bit close to home too. In early 1960s, four young men were riding in a car in southern, middle Tennessee. I don't know all the details. But I understand someone pulled out in front of their car, and the car's driver had no time to stop. The two in the front seat were killed. The man in the back seat behind the driver suffered a badly broken leg. The man in the back seat behind the front-seat passenger was launched through the front windshield. The broken glass severed his left leg badly, and doctors could not save it.
The 2 survivors were hospitalized together in a semi-private room. The sister of the man with the broken leg came to visit her brother and met his one-legged buddy recovering in the other bed. From that meeting, they saw each other a bit more after he was discharged. And on December 21, 1963, they married.
That one-legged man is my father. His broken-leg buddy became my uncle Ronald - and was the man who introduced me to racing in 1974.
Daddy also still has a wristwatch from that wreck after all these years. He said if flew off his wrist - apparently as he sailed through the windshield. Someone found it, and it still worked despite a scratched crystal. Somehow it found its way back to him.