Buck Baker and Joe Guide, Jr. churn up
the sand as they plow through the North turn
during the 1954 Daytona Beach Grand National.
Baker finished a close 2nd to Lee Petty in the
160-mile contest, while Guide, Jr. wound up 25th
in the field of 62.
Bill France, Racer
Big Bill France, NASCAR founder, compiled quite an enviable resume' as a race car driver prior to the organizational skills he is most noted for. Twice France won major events on the Daytona Beach-Road course and he was declared the 1940 national stock car champion although there was no formal point structure which determined one.
The Miami Lunatic
One of the most crowd pleasing drivers prior to World War II was Crazy Cy Clark, a youngster out of Miami, who could kick up the sand and thrill the spectators to the max. Following a Beach-Road race in 1941, the following appeared in the newspaper write-up convering the race. "Cy Clark is a hell-bent-for-leather lunatic. Clark, a fiery Miami madman, stomped his heavy foot on the gas pedal and neer let up except when he pulled into the pits to have his tires changed.....The gyrations of Clark's car at the North Turn defy description. The maelstorming machine skidded, bounced, swirled and took off but it never turned over although it seldom had more than two wheels on the ground at the same time."
Lloyd Seay was perhaps the most daring drivers in the early days of stock car racing. In the July 27, 1941 race on Daytona's Beach-Road course, Seay flipped his car twice and yet still wound up finishing fourth. He nearly tipped over a third time when his car lurched up on two wheels through the North Turn. Seay won the August 24, 1941 Daytona race, went to High Point, N.C. and won again on August 31, 1941, then stormed to victory once again at Atlanta's Lakewood Speedway on September 1, 1941. Following his Atlanta triumph, he was shot to death by his cousin after an argument about the sugar content in the family owned moonshine business.
Rapid Roy That Stock Car Boy
Rapid Roy Hall was another colorful driver in the charasmatic early years of Beach-Road racing. Three times he came home victorious on the demanding course, each time it was underscored by adventuresome exploits. Hall's mere arrival into the city of Daytona was exciting. One time he drove from Atlanta to Daytona in less than six and a half hours, quite a feat considering there were no interstate highways back then. Another time Hall drove into town & proceeded to spin do-nuts in the middle of Main street, an exercise which earned him a free night's lodging in the "Crossbar Hotel". Hall said he intended it that way, "Because the motel rates are too high in this town."
Smokey Purser was the first super-star in Daytona Beach-Road racing. Winner of three races, Purser was an uncompromising leadfoot in every sense of the word. He actually won a fourth race on the Beach, but after receiving the checkered flag, Purser kept tooling right up the beach and failed to go to Victory Lane. When race officials found him in his shop dismantling some illegal equipment from the winning car, Purser was stripped of the triumph.
Bill Snowden of St. Augustine, Florida was one of the staples of stock car racing before and after World War II. While being an accomplished racer and team owner, his cars were always immaculately prepared. While Snowden never reached the cherished confines of Victory Circle at Daytona, he did score eight top 5 finishes, including runner-up efforts in 1941 and 1948.
Four Abreast Start
Pole-sitter Fred Thompson leads the tightly bunched field of cars on the pace lap moments before the start of the 1954 Modified-Sportsman race on Daytona's Beach-Road course. Thompson, of Birmingham, Alabama, put his Modified Chevrolet through the Measured Mile qualifying trap at better than 130 mph. A field of 104 cars stacked up behind Thompson, producing one of the most memorable images in stock car racing history.
North Turn Crack-Up
Red Farmer #C-97 nearly goes over the wooden retaining barrier in the North Turn after an pile up in the 1956 Modified-Sportsman race. Bunk Moore #399 noses into the wall in the high groove as Herb Tillman #86 and Bill Widenhouse #25 steer clear to the low side.
Speedy Thompson pitches his #M-5 Fish Carburetor Ford into the North Turn en route to victory in the 1955 Sportsman race at Daytona. Thompson took the lead from Curtis Turner with 15 laps remaining in the 100-mile event and delivered the first Daytona triumph for team owner Bob Fish.
First Radio Hook-up
Tim Flock's Oldsmobile leans heavily as it exits the South Turn in the February 21, 1954 NASCAR Grand National event on Daytona's Beach-Road course. Flock wheeled the Ernest Woods-owned Olds to victory, but was disqualified on a minor technicality following post-race inspections. Lee Petty was declared the official winner of the race. Flock did contribute a slice of history in that event, becoming the first driver in NASCAR Grand National history to compete while in radio communication with his pit crew.
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