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.
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.
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.
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 !