Friday, March 9, 2012

Good Ol' Boys Tellin' Tales

Las Vegas Motor Speedway
I was sitting on the bus going to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for Friday's practice and qualifying sessions, and I discovered I was sitting with another Canadian living in Vancouver, who used to live in Shubenacadie Nova Scotia. We got to talking about racing in the Maritimes and I told him about racing Formula Fords at Atlantic Motorsport Park, and how much fun I had working on and building the car. He asked me about driving, and I said that I actually preferred building the cars to driving them. At this point another fellow across the aisle spoke up and said he knew a friend who felt the same, and proceed to rely this story.

His friend was a dedicated crew member of one of the major NASCAR teams in the early 70's, and had been crewing for years and years. He had always said that some day he wanted to actually drive the car he spent so much time building. Finally one weekend they were practicing or testing at Talladega Speedway. The driver (I forget his name – sorry) came in after a day of testing and announced “This car is perfect, it handles perfectly, it goes like stink, and makes more power than I can use; don't change a thing.”

He pulled off his racing suit and handed it to the crew member, “Here,” he said “This is your chance. You've done such a good job tuning this thing, I want you to drive it. You always said you wanted to drive the car; this is your chance; get in!”. Apparently this was not any official NASCAR event, because even in those early days, you had to have a special licence to drive a race car, but because this was just testing they could do it.

In the Pits
Apparently he took the car out and was amazed at how bad it drove. After a couple of laps he pulled in and complained, “I thought you said this thing was set up well . . . it's impossible to drive, it's darting all over the place, shakes like crazy, and the engine is backfiring!”

The driver leaned in the window, and laughed, “You only got it up to 140, it's always a bitch to hang onto until you get up to about 160, smooths right out then though. Get back out there and step on the gas.”

The crew member did this and, hanging on for dear life he pushed it faster and faster, and sure enough it reached a point that it did indeed smooth out, ran straight, true and the engine started to sing. He was however scared stiff, and was gripping the wheel with white knuckles. Then he noticed another car rapidly overtaking. The car pulled out and flashed by on the outside like he was barely moving. As the other driver was alongside his hand came to the window and flicked a cigarette butt out. He was driving with one hand while smoking and doing close to 200 mph.

He said this convinced his friend that it was best to leave the driving to the actual NASCAR drivers, and he went back to building the cars. Never asked to drive again.

I don't know if this story is true, could just be some of us 'Good ol boys” tellin tales, but it's still kind of funny.


  1. Art, your enthusiasm for NASCAR is rubbing-off on even ME! Found myself watching the time trials on TV ... thought for sure I'd see you (handing some guy a wrench or at least taking one of your interesting pictures)!

  2. I was there taking pictures - look for some in an upcoming Blog on "Tools of the Trade"