Tag Archives: Waltrip

Superspeedway or Dirt – Chevrolet Impala SS

Robert Glenn Johnson, Jr hails from Wilkes County North Carolina where his father was a life long bootlegger who is said to have spent nearly twenty of his sixty three years in jail.

Chevrolet Impala SS, Robert Kauffman, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Junior Johnson also spent a year in jail in 1956 for being caught with an illegal still, but never for running moonshine twixt still and black market retailer. In 1986 Juniors right to vote was restored after President Regan granted Johnson a Presidential Pardon.

Chevrolet Impala SS, Goodwood Festival of Speed

In 1953 Junior made one NASCAR Grand National start at Darlington in an Oldsmobile which he crashed but still took home $110. By 1963 when today’s featured Chevrolet Impala SS was built Junior had won 27 top tier NASCAR Grand National races and his end of season ranking’s had already peaked with two sixth places in points in 1955 and 1961.

Chevrolet Impala SS, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Junior Drove the Ray Fox owned #3 Holly Farms Chevrolet Impala SS in 32 of the 55 Grand National races run in the 1963 season and won seven of them which included his Duel qualifying race at Daytona Superspeedway, Hillsboro, two wins at Hickory which was still a dirt track, Atlanta, and Charlotte. At the season ending race on the Riverside road course Junior showed his versatility by driving a Bill Stoppe entered Mercury to a fifth place finish from 19th on the grid.

Chevrolet Impala SS, Goodwood Festival of Speed

By the end of his career only one driver had more race wins than Junior, three time champion Lee Petty had 54 race wins, and Junior was level with two time champ Ned Jarrett on 50 race wins.

Chevrolet Impala SS, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Before hanging up his helmet for good at the end of 1966 Junior brought his own team to NASCAR’s top Grand National tier in 1965 entering 36 races of the 55 races and winning 13 of them to finish 12th in the final championship standings.

Chevrolet Impala SS, Robert Kauffman, Goodwood Festival of Speed

After a short seven race schedule in 1966 Junior focused on running his cars for other drivers which most notably included the three consecutive championship winning seasons with Cale Yarborough from 1975 to 1977 and then three more championship winning seasons with Darrell “Jaws” Waltrip in 1981, ’82 and ’85.

Junior retired from the sport in 1995 by which time his teams had clocked up 132 NASCAR race wins still only bettered by Hendrick Motorsports on 231 top tier NASCAR race victories and Petty Enterprises with 268 top tier NASCAR race victories.

In retirement Junior has kept busy running Junior Johnson Pork Skins Inc and Piedmont Distillers which produce batches of legal Midnight Moon described as “Smoother than vodka. Better than whiskey. Best shine ever.”

The #3 Holly Farms Chevrolet Impala SS owner Ray Fox got his break in after the second world war as a mechanic, he was named mechanic of the year in 1956 after cars he worked on recorded 22 race victories.

In 1960 Ray and Junior were on the John Masoni owned Chevrolet team when they won the Daytona 500.

In 1962 Ray founded his own team which ran for 12 years with 1963 being the most successful, his team recorded a total of 14 races from 200 starts before retiring, he served as a NASCAR official from 1990 to 1996. Ray passed away aged 98 earlier this year.

Thanks for joining me on this “Superspeedway Or Dirt” 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 !


Wrecked Prototype Reincanated – Nimrod Aston Martin NRAC/1 #001

With a world caravan speed record in his pocket set with his twin turbocharged Aston Martin ‘Muncher’ Robin Hamilton came to an agreement with Aston Martin Chairman Victor Gauntlet to enter a partnership to form Nimrod in 1981 which set out to build Aston Martin powered prototype Group C and GTP racing cars.

Nimrod Aston Martin NRA/C2, Goodwood Festival of Speed

The design of the cars was credited to Eric Broadley, though I have always had my doubts about the extent of his involvement because the design does not feature ground effect aerodynamics that were de rigeur in Formula One and becoming rampant in prototype sports cars such as Eric’s contemporary Lola T600 Group C / IMSA GTP design shows.

Nimrod Aston Martin NRA/C2, Goodwood Festival of Speed

The Nimrod chassis tubs were certainly built by Lola, they were known in the Lola factory as T385’s and the cars do appear to bear a familial resemblance to the smaller open Lola T380 of the type Alan de Cadanet purchased in 1975. The heavily modified Aston Martin V8’s were prepared initially by Aston Martin Tickford and later by Aston Martin Lagonda.

Nimrod Aston Martin NRA/C2, Goodwood Festival of Speed

It is believed that the 1981 car, seen here at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, belonging to the Louwman Museum is the rebuilt wreck of the prototype that crashed before ever turning a wheel in open competition, that was never raced subsequently either.

Nimrod Aston Martin NRA/C2, Goodwood Festival of Speed

The Nimrods turned out to be underfunded and inevitably disappointed, the works cars best result, in second generation NRAC/2 guise that appeared in 1982, was a 5th place finish in the IMSA GTP series which fell to Reggie Smith, Lyn St. James and Drake Olson in the 1983 Sebring 12 Hours. At the end of the season Nimrod Racing folded.

The best Nimrod finish in the World Sports Car Group C series fell to Ray Mallock and Mike Salmon on the Nimrods debut at the 1982 Silverstone 6 Hours. This private entry by Viscount Downe was independently developed by Ray Mallock until 1984 and proved quicker and more reliable than the works entries scoring the marques only Le Mans finish in 1983 when Ray and Mike were joined by Simon Philips and finished 7th from 23rd on the grid.

In 1983 for the Daytona 24 Hours Nimrod manged to team up both 4 time Indy 500 winner and one time Daytona 500 Winner AJ Foyt up with fellow Daytona 500 winner and three time NASCAR Cup winner Darrell ‘Jaws’ Waltrip and an unknown Argentinian Guillermo Maldonado with Darrell’s sponsor Pepsi in their lead #11 car.

They qualified 13th, but retired with engine failure to be classified 54th. AJ who had not driven the car in the race moved over to join Preston Henn in the Henn’s Swap Shop Porsche 935 and shared a victory with Preston, “Brilliant” Bob Wollek and Claude Ballot-Lena.

Thanks for joining me on this “Wrecked Prototype Revived” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psychoontyres” I hope you will join me again for Maserati Monday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Silent Running – Silverstone 6 Hours WEC

Last Sunday I popped up to Silverstone for the 6 Hour race, the 4th round of the 8 race World Endurance Championship.

Silverstone Circuit, Northamptonshire

When I first visited Silverstone in 1978 the layout was still essentially an airfield perimeter track consisting of six straights joined by six fast corners with the main runway still in use on raceday’s. Since then the track configuration has changed several times, the runway is now long gone and there is a completely new infield section between the Club and Woodcote corners which was introduced last year.

Japanese Fans, Silverstone 6 Hours WEC

When I arrived at the track I was heartend to find that endurance racing appeals to a younger audience who travelled from far and wide, though just as in 1978 in disappointingly small numbers.

Toyota TS030 Hybrid, Silverstone 6 Hours WEC

Making it’s first appearance in the UK was the new for 2012 Toyota TS030 Hybrid which proved fast at the previous Le Mans 24 hours if ultimately unreliable, the car driven by Austrian Alexander Wurz, Frenchman Nicolas Lapierre and Japanese Kazuki Nakajima qualified 3rd behind the two Audi Sport Joest R18’s but after a dozen laps went into the lead, unfortunately it could not maintain it’s lead during the pit stops and so was always, entertainingly playing catch up to the Audi’s with their smaller, diesel filled, fuel tanks which proved ultimately more economical.

Lola- Nissan B12/80 Coupé, Silverstone 6 Hours WEC

Further Japanese interest in the race was provided by Keiko Ihara who was sharing her second tier LMP2 #29 Gulf Racing Middle East entered Lola Nissan B12/80 Coupé with Fenchman Fabien Giroix and Swiss Jean-Denis Delatraz, they qualified a distant 22nd and finished an equally distant 18th overall and 11th in class.

Zytek - Nissan Z11SN, Silverstone 6 Hours WEC

Also running in the LMP2 class was former Grand Prix Driver, 1990 Le Mans winner and Sky Sports Formula One presenter Martin Brundle who joined his son Alex and Spaniard Lucas Ordonez in the #42 Zytek Nissan Z11SN. The #42 qualified a respectable 8th overall 1st in class but could only finish 12th overall 5th in class.

Porsche 911 RSR (997), Silverstone 6 Hours WEC

As well as the two LMP1 and LMP2 prototype classes additional classes catered for GT2 cars which are split into LMGTE Pro and LMGTE Am divisions. Amateurs Christian Ried from Germany with Italians Gianluca Roda and Parato Ruberti from Italy qualified the #88 Porsche 911 RSR (997) 27th overall and 2nd in class and finished 25th overall 2nd in class, seeing the slower GT drivers getting swamped by the faster prototypes on the corners is always interesting but only rarely leads to the kind of damage seen above.

Chevrolet Corvette C6-ZR1, Silverstone 6 Hours WEC

The #50 Chevrolet Corvette C6-ZR1, seen above, shared by Brazilian Fernando Rees and Frenchmen Patrick Bornhauser and Julien Canal actually crossed the line 25th and 2nd in the LMGTE Am class but was disqualified after a “non-conforming safety device, namely the validity date of the car’s fire extinguisher” was discovered in post race scrutineering. Labre Competition Team manager Jack Leconte was suitably contrite after the discovery.

Oreca - Nissan 03, Silverstone 6 Hours WEC

From 35 starters there were only four retirements the second of which was the #23 Signatech Oreca Nissan O3 of French trio Jordan Tresson, Franck Mailleux and Olivier Lombard. Approaching 3/4 distance. Tesson is seen here after a rear tyre exploded at Becketts coming out of the next corner Chapel his car turned sharp left and hit the wall. The ensuing safety car period played into the hands of the overall victor of the race.

Ferrari 458 Italia, Silverstone 6 Hours WEC

The #61 AF Course Waltrip, as in Micheal Waltrip Racing apparently, Ferrari 458 Italia of Italians Piergiuseppe Perazzzin, Marco Cioci and Irishman Matt Griffin qualified 30th overall / 3rd in LMGTE Am and came home winners in the class beating the #98 Aston Martin Vantage V8 of German Roald Goethe and Briy Stuart Hall, seen above, that finished 4th in class by 3 whole laps. Griffin said of his win “I’m not British but it’s still my home race so I’m really happy.”

Ferrari 458 Italia, Silverstone 6 Hours WEC

LMGTE Pro honours fell to the #51 AF Course Ferrari 458 Italia of Grand Prix Winner Giancarlo Fisichella and Gianmaria Bruni who beat another 458 Italia by two clear laps.

Oreca Nissan 03, Silverstone 6 Hours WEC

The #25 ADR-Delta team Oreca Nissan O3 of John Martin, Jan Charouz and Tor Garves edged the second Signatech team Oreca Nissan by just six seconds at the finish line but this was not the closest class victory of the day.

Lola Toyota B12/60 Coupé, Silverstone 6 Hours WEC

By securing the win in their Rebellion Racing Lola Toyota B12/60 Coupé 6th place starters and 4th place overall finishers Italian Andrea Belicchi and Swiss Harold Primat stretched the Rebellion Racing Teams lead in the Privateer LMP1 Championship. They finished 6 laps behind the third place #2 Audi and less than 1 second ahead of the 2nd place privateer LMP1 Honda powered HDP ARX 03a to take the closest class victory of the day.

Audi e-tron quattro Hybrid, Silverstone 6 Hours WEC

With the best fuel economy and aided in a small way by several short safety car periods the Audi e-tron quattro Hybrid with a flywheel accumulator system developed by Williams Hybrid Power, to drive the front wheels only at mandated speeds in excess of 75 mph, silently, and I mean really quietly, out ran the Toyota TS030 Hybrid by less than a minute thanks to one less stop for diesel than it’s petrol powered competitor. By crossing the line first Audi secured this years World Endurance Constructors Championship at the half way point because it’s Le Mans win is the one race in the series that counts for double points.

Thanks for joining me on this “Silent Running” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be visiting Dunsfold Aerodrome. Don’t forget to come back now !