Tag Archives: Talladega

’69 NASCAR Triple Crown – Ford Torino

In January 1969 Ford’s Atlanta Assembly plant in Georgia built a run of 500 special fast back Torino’s, featuring a slightly more aerodynamic nose said to have been developed by Holman Moody, known as the Torino Talladega named in honour of a new super speedway circuit that was to open located just down the road in Alabama.

The reason for building these cars all of which were thought to have lost Ford money in the show room was so that Ford would have a more competitive package for the 1969 NASCAR Grand National Season.

Junior Johnson ran a Ford Torino sponsored by Jim Robbins known as the Jim Robbins Special for LeeRoy Yarbrough who also drove for Robbins open wheel USAC team at Indy.

Ford Torino, Sonoma Historics

LeeRoy started the 1969 Daytona 500 from 19th place in his earlier Torino Cobra model but came through to beat Charlie Glotzbach driving a Dodge to win the richest race of the year and the US$38,950 prize money that went with it.

Mid season Junior Johnson’s cars were badged as Mercury Cyclone’s for six races and during that spell LeeRoy won The Rebel 400 at Darlington, and the longest race of the year The World 600 at Charlotte.

For the 1969 Medal of Honor Firecracker 400 at Daytona LeeRoy’s car was back to being badged a Ford Torino but with the more aerodynamic Talladega nose, starting ninth and leading 96 laps including the all important last one, LeeRoy won another US$22,175.

Ford Torino, Sonoma Historics

Starting the Dixie 500 at Atlanta from the outside of the front row LeeRoy led 142 laps to beat David Pearson Holman Moody Ford for his fifth victory of the season.

LeeRoy made it a clean sweep at Darlington by winning the oldest race of the circuit the Southern 500 and became the first driver to win NASCAR’s triple crown of the season’s richest, longest and oldest races on the schedule in a single season.

As at Atlanta and Darlington LeeRoy beat David Pearson again to win The American 500 at Rockingham and to claim his seventh win of the season which saw him finish only 16th in the end of season point’s standings thanks to only starting 30 of the scheduled 54 races, David Pearson won the 1969 Grand National Championship with 11 race victories.

Ford Torino, Sonoma Historics

Ironically the 44th race of the season saw Richard Petty lead fellow members of the Professional Drivers Association including LeeRoy to boycott the inaugural Talladega 500 due to a lack of grip on the steeply banked circuit.

The Talladega 500 went ahead without many of NASCAR’s star drivers and was won by Richard Brickhouse driving the debuting Dodge Charger Daytona model, Charger Daytona’s finished the race in the top four spots.

My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for sharing his photo’s of the #98 Ford Torino Talladega, taken at Sonoma Historics last year, which I believe was driven by Ron Myska.

Thanks for joining me on this “’69 NASCAR Triple Crown” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for the last Ferrari Friday for the next couple of months. Don’t forget to come back now !


King Kevin 4 The Happy Nation !

Without the wonders of the internet I’d probably have no idea who Kevin Harvick was, around the time he was pulled into NASCAR’s top echelon of Cup racing by Richard Childress, RCR, the mainstream press in the UK had barely registered RCR and NASCAR’s star driver Dale Earnhardt’s passing and showed no interest in the guy Richard would turn to in his hour of need.

Thanks to the likes of Jerry Bonkowski over at Yahoo! Sport I managed to keep in touch with what was going on in Cup competition at the turn of the Millennium.

Chevrolet Impala SS, Harvick, Nurburgring,

In 2008 Jay Busbee at the same august internet enterprise ran a competition in which his readers were asked to fantasise about the future of NASCAR to be in with a chance of winning a number of NASCAR goodies.

My entry above imagined a 24 hour Cup race at the Nurburgring, which won me a “Americans For A Gunk Free Nation” cap signed by none other than Happy Kevin Harvick.

Chevrolet Impala SS, Kevin Harvick, Aaron's 499, Talladega,

The following year I got even luckier thanks to a much missed website called rowdy.com and won a trip to see Kevin race in the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega.

The race was best remembered for the wipe out between winner Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards at the finish line, my man Kevin had a torrid time after his own early wipe out dented every panel on his car and his 2009 season was his worst since his semaphore slump in 2002.

On the plus side Kevin did win the 2009 Bud Shootout and in the post race interview uttered the phrase that I would eventually purloin and tweek for the title of this blog in 2010.

Chevrolet Impala SS

Photo Courtesy Kevin Harvicks Twitter feed.

The following season there were rumours that Kevin would switch to Haas Stewart Racing but these came to nought and Kevin bounced back to place 3rd in the Cup standings 3 times over the next four seasons.

At the end of 2011, to show how serious the matter of winning the Cup was, Kevin shut down his championship winning Kevin Harvick Inc Nationwide and Camping World Series Truck teams in his quest to focus on a Cup winning competitive edge.

Chevrolet Impala SS, Kansas, Kevin Harvick

Photo courtesy Kevin Harvick’s Twitter feed.

However despite finishing third in the final Cup standings last year Kevin decided that the switch to Stewart Haas Racing was due and amazingly after scoring 20 top ten finishes Kevin was crowned Sprint Cup Champion after winning his fifth race of the season at Homestead Miami to beat Ryan Newman by just one point.

The following day Kevin tweeted “All I can (do) is thank you to everyone for the support through all the years!! What a year this has been!!! WE WIN!!!”

Having been a Happy fan with a signed hat since 2008, I would like to congratulate Kevin and his SHR crew on their Championship success, thank him for keeping me entertained through thick and thin and wish him and his delightful wife Delana, who allegedly wears the fire suit, along with their son Keelan a relaxing festive break and best wishes for the 2015 season which kicks of on Valentines day with the Sprint Unlimited at Daytona.

Thanks for joining me on this “King Kevin 4 The Happy Nation !” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Ferrari Friday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Top Of The Class – Dodge Charger Police Package Hemi LX

In 1964 Dodge built a concept roadster called the Charger based on the Dodge Polara, the first production car to carry the Charger name was the 1966 personal luxury Coupé of which four generations appeared up until 1977 when the model was dropped.

A fith genration sub compact hatchback coupé Charger with front wheel drive was built from 1982 to 1987 after which the model disappeared until a four door rear wheel drive Charger like today’s featured vehicle appeared in 2006 to replace the full size Dodge Intrepid.

Dodge Charger, Talladega, Superspeedway, AL

The sixth generation Charger, also known as Charger LX, shares it’s LX platform with the Chrysler 300, discontinued third generation, ’04 – ’08, Magnum and the personal luxury third generation Challenger coupé which reappeared after a 25 year break in 2008.

The design credited to Ralph Gilles and Freeman Thomas was originally made available with two V6 and two V8 Hemi motor options ranging from 190 to 425 hp and from All wheel drive was also put on the options list.

Law Enforcement versions of the Charger were also made available with V6 and V8 Hemi motors. In Michigan State Police tests the police package 250 hp V6 was found to be equal in performance to the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor while the Hemi V8 kicking out over 340 hp, like the Mobile County Sheriff’s example seen above at Talladega Superspeedway, was top of the interceptor performance class.

Car & Driver reported in August 2006 that NYPD were to test 10 of the police package Chargers, suggesting they had a 150 mph capability.

Thanks for joining me on this “Top Of The Class” edition of “gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for Ferrari Friday. Don’t forget to come back now !


Double Trouble – MG-B

In April 2009 I had the good fortune to win a pair of tickets to the Aarons 499 run at Talladega Superspeedway a mere 12,000 mile round trip from Bristol, UK, but a race fan has to do what a race fan has to do, after all everything else is just waiting and I had been waiting 20 years since my last visit to a touring car race at Brands Hatch !

My tickets came courtesy of the much missed Rowdy.com where I had made many friends who helped me out with details like a tent in which to stay, a pair of headphones to listen into the pit crew radio and all important lifts from Atlanta to the track a couple of hours to the East. Rowdy friend Sweetdreams picked my up in her Durango and with in half an hour it was raining cats ‘n’ dogs and getting dark.

MG-B, Aarons 499, Talladega Superspeedway

After stopping at a Wallmart the size of a small English village somewhere outside Birmingham, AL we got into the campsite and followed a long route round to a spot where, if I remember correctly, there was no camping charge. As Sweetdreams headlights swept through the campsite I thought I espied what looked like a #88 Mountain Dew MG B which for some reason took away any anxieties I had about the trip.

MG-B, Aarons 499, Talladega Superspeedway

A couple of day’s later I borrowed Sweetdreams partner John’s moped and retraced our steps into the campsite to get some digital verification of what I thought I had seen a couple of days before and indeed there it was a #88 Mountain Dew MG B complete with Car of Tomorrow splitter and spoiler called Double Trouble. After making enquiries about the car I met the owner and was invited to some Alabama hospitality in the form of a beer and a chat during which we had a good laugh about the fact I had traveled quarter way round the globe to see an MG built less than an hours drive away from where I lived.

My thanks to Sweetdreams and John Spartan who did so much to make me feel at home on the wrong side of the Daryl Waltrip Way fence.

Thanks for joining me on this “Double Trouble” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll start a five week celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Italian Manufacturer ISO Rivolta. Don’t forget to come back now !


Sweet Seventeen – Ford Thunderbird

Last, but one, in this series of road vehicles painted in racing colours is today’s tenth generation Ford Thunderbird painted up to look like the #17 DeWalt Fords driven by Matt Kenseth from 2000 to 2011.

Ford Thunderbird, Talladega Superspeedway

Ironically the Thunderbird had been phased out of NASCAR competition by the time Matt joined NASCARS’s top tier circuit in favour of the Ford Taurus. This photo was taken in the car park at Talladega Superspeedway in April 2009.

This blog is dedicated to Sweet Seventeen, who kindly lent me her headphones so that I could follow the Aarrons 499, and her partner Chris who is currently recovering from major kidney surgery. Hang on in there and get well soon Chris.

Thanks for joining me on this “Sweet 17” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at one of my all time favourite Formula One cars. Don’t forget to come back now !


Rolling Into Records – Howmet TX #2

In 1967 Philadelphian sports car racer Ray Heppenstall persuaded his friend Tom Fleming that a conventional sports car with an aircraft gas turbine engine might make a competitive racing car. Fleming, sales vice-president of Howmet a major suppliers of precision castings to the aircraft gas turbine industry, and Heppenstall in turn convinced the board of Howmet that such a program would be a great way to promote their business.

Two spaceframe chassis based on a Can Am design were built and fitted with Continental TS325-1 turboshaft motors that were donated from a batch of ten motors Continental had developed for a failed observation helicopter contract. The motors produced 330 hp and were given a 3 litre / 183 cui equivalency rating by the regulation governing FIA. In order to comply with the reverse gear regulations a separate electric motor drive was employed.

Howmet TX, Goodwood Festival Of Speed

Today’s featured car chassis #2 is the second of the two Howmet’s built with a slightly longer wheel base. The week after Ray had recorded the teams first victory and the first ever for a gas turbine powered car at Huntsville, Dick Thompson repeated the feat driving #2 at Marlboro winning the SCCA Preliminary then sharing the car with Ray to win the 300 mile feature race.

In July ’68 Ray and Dick shared chassis #2 again to come home third overall and first in class at the Watkins Glen 6 hour race behind a pair of 4.7 litre / 286 cui Ford GT40’s.

Howmet TX, Goodwood Festival Of Speed

Ray recorded a third place finish driving chassis #2 at Donnybrook in August ’68 before both Howmet’s were shipped to Europe for the Le Mans 24 Hours, which had been delayed until September from it’s usual June date by civil unrest and strikes involving 11,000,000 French workers.

#2 was the faster of the two Howmets in qualifying for the 24 hour endurance classic Dick and Ray qualifying 20th two seconds faster and four spots ahead of the sister machine driven by Hugh Dibley and Bob Tullis. In the race the cars were hampered on the corners because the single gear was designed to optimise performance on the 4 mile Mulsanne straight.

Dibley / Tullis were disqualified after a three hour pit stop to change a rear hub bearing for covering insufficient distance after seven hours, while #GTP2 had a faulty fuel control which restricted the cars top speed to just 100 mph. During the evening Dick lost control and rolled the car at the slightly banked Indianapolis corner.

Howmet TX, Goodwood Festival Of Speed

Note the rear lights sourced from the original iteration of the Ford Cortina, according to Bob Mckee other proprietary parts used to finish the Howmet included front indicators from a Ferrari, Porsche wipers, modified Triumph steering and Mustang door latches.

Howmet withdrew their support for the project after Le Mans having determined the disadvantages of throttle lag, running the car with a single gear, absence of engine braking and high fuel consumption were insurmountable issues for competitive entries in the long run.

Ray Heppenstall rebuilt #GTP2 with open spyder bodywork and in 1970 timed by IMSA officials recorded six World Records for standing starts over 1/4 mile, 1/2 km and 1 km distances in two weight divisions for vehicles upto and over 1000 kgs. Ray’s fastest speed of 167.97 mph was recorded in the lighter division over 1 km all set on a stretch of open road adjacent to Talladega Super Speedway !

With the motors returned to Continental Ray bought the worlds only gas turbine powered race winning cars for a nominal dollar from Howmet in 1971. Chuck Haynes had Bob McKee restore #2 back into Coupé form in 1996, it is now fitted with an Allison 250C18 turboshaft helicopter motor which is lighter but with a similar power output to the original.

My thanks to Pete Stowe for additional in formation on the Hownet’s regarding the records chassis numbers and a quote from Bob Mckee on the proprietary parts used.

Thanks for joining me on this “Rolling Into Records” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !

PS Push to Pass Latest Formula One news and opinion today at Motorsports Unplugged


Pre Spin Off – Dodge Ram Pace Truck

In late 2008 Dodge launched it’s forth generation (DS/DJ) Ram pickups, like the trend setting second (BR/BE) and third (DR/DH/D1/DC/DM) generation Ram pickups the big rig styling theme was kept and subtly updated.

Dodge Ram, Re/Max 250, Talladega, Superspeedway

As well as serving as pace truck the Dodge Ram above also served as camera truck as the field for the ARCA RE/MAX 250 prepared to leave pit road on the Friday before the Spring 2009 Aarons 499.

Dodge Ram, Aarons 499, Talladega, Superspeedway

Power options ranged from 215 hp 3.7 litre / 226 cui PowerTech V6 to 390 hp 5.7 litre / 345 cui cui Hemi V8 with a 350 hp Cummins Diesel added in 2010. The body options were one 2 door and three 4 door options plus the Dually on the heaviest trucks in the range. 2 or 4 wheel drive could also be specified across the range.

Dodge Ram, Aarons 499, Talladega, Superspeedwayadega, Superspeedway

Midway through 2009 Dodge owners Chrysler filed under Chapter 11 and entered into a deal with FIAT which saw the Dodge brand emerge as an automobile only brand and spun Ram spun off as a Pickup and Commercial Vehicle only brand, making the Aarons 499 Dodge pace truck seen here at Talladega one of the last to be sold under the Dodge Ram brand name.

The Pace truck above is seen in front of the #39 and #88 Chevrolets of Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt JR prior to the final restart of the Aarons 499, the finish of which will be best remembered for the incident between Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski which saw Keslowski take his maiden Sprint Cup win and Edwards bounce of the retaining fence so that he ended up crossing the line on foot classified 24th. Newman who was caught in the fracas which ensued crossed in third behind an unscathed Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Thanks for joining me on this “Pre Spin Off” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !