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My brother flew in for a weekend visit and the Nascar Hall of Fame was on his "bucket list." On display was the 1962 Fireball Robert's 421 powered Nascar race car re-creation. Very cool.
 

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Oh yeah, now that's a beauty! Smokey Yunick had the cleanest early Nascar cars of any make.

Sad that Fireball went out the way he did, The Nascar drivers of today are certainly as different as the cars they drive. I'm glad that safety has become a huge priority in racing as we lost so many drivers in motorsports in the Fifly's and Sixty's but it has made the sports uninteresting to me. I loved when the cars they raced were the ones you could go to the dealership and buy. :rant:
 

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NASCAR Pontiacs

Yeah, Those 389 and 421 SD Pontiacs dominated NASCAR in the early '60's. Jr. Johnson said that in 1960, they were so much faster than his Chevy that all he could do was get right on the tail of a Pontiac and follow it. He claims that he discovered what we now know as "drafting".

And it worked for Jr. in the '60 Daytona 500. He was drafting the leader, Bobby Johns, when the back windshield blew out of the Pontiac, causing it to spin. That put Jr. in the lead, with just a few laps to go. Bobby got back in the race and finished 2nd.

Jr. switched to Pontiac and won a few races with 'em. But in '63, GM pulled the plug on factory sponsorship of Pontiacs in NASCAR racing. :( But hey, I like to think of what might have been. How about a 428, with M/T alum hemi heads, doing battle with the Mopar hemi ? I believe it was the '62 US Nationals where an M/T headed Pontiac powered dragster won the top prize. There's no telling what good Pontiac parts could have come from Pontiac if the factory had stayed in racing. :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7VrygkrD1c

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGGxQSDGvD0
 

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Can Y'all Stand a Few More ?

All the best drivers always wanna drive the fastest cars. So there were quite a few well known drivers who wheeled Pontiacs when they were on top. Besides those I've already pictured, there was Cotton Owens, David Pearson, Paul Goldsmith, and lots of others. :)
 

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Safety ?

Did somebody mention safety ? If you run circle track, it's not a matter of IF you will get in a wreck, but WHEN. :(

And of course, Pontiacs were involved in wrecks, too. Here's one that happened to Bobby Johns. And Jack Smith got up on the rail with his '58. I think Buck Baker was driving Jack Smith's Pontiac in this last pic. He won the race, but the right rear tire, didn't make it to victory lane. :)
 

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Joe Weatherly

Joe Weatherly stayed with Pontiac as long as he could. Even after the factory dropped out, Joe drove Bud Moore's Pontiacs, in '63. But without the factory help, Bud was not able to enter all the races. So, Joe drove the races that Bud's Pontiacs entered and had to bum a ride for the other races. But he still managed to pull off another driver championship, to make it 2 in a row ! :)

Here's a pic of Joe, Cotton, and Fireball, 3 of the best drivers to wheel a Pontiac. And I think the last pic is with Linda Vaughn and Paul Goldsmith.
 

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Paul Goldsmith

And speakin of Paul Goldsmith, he drove the little #50 Pontiac Tempest to one of the most impressive and decisive Pontiac victories I know of. He totally embarrassed a field of sports cars, lapping the field, if I remember correctly, and finishing ahead of the 2nd place car, A.J. Foyt's Vette, by 2 laps.

To me, it is one of those feel good, David and Goliath stories ! Hey, if you're a Pontiac fan, you gotta love it ! :)

http://bangshift.com/bangshiftapex/thundering-bastard-the-day-a-super-duty-pontiac-tempest-destroyed-the-worlds-best-sports-cars/
 

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H.B. Bailey

But, one of my favorite Pontiac circle track drivers was H.B. Bailey. He never won any major NASCAR races. In fact, he was a low budget racer, who only entered a few races each year.

But, what I like about him is that he stayed true to Pontiac, long after almost everybody else had give up on 'em. He raced an assortment of Pontiacs, including some big cars, A-bodies, and Birds.

He ran the Birds in some road race type stuff. He actually won a race in what they called the Grand American series, I believe. And I think he made the 1st qualifying lap at the 1st NASCAR race at the Brickyard, in a Pontiac bodied car, with his familiar #36 on the side.

Richard Petty had some kind words to say about H.B. He said something to the effect that H.B. was the kind of guy who had built the sport to what it became. :)

H.B. Bailey

LASTCAR.info: Remembering H.B. Bailey and NASCAR’s First Track Record at Indianapolis

The Glory Days - H.B. Bailey's Grand American Firebird

H. B. Bailey
 

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Nascar gto ?

And since this is the GTO site, I'll mention another NASCAR GTO, besides H.B. Bailey's '68. It was driven by David Pearson, and had 2 different numbers. It never did very well, because of engine trouble. But it looks cool to most Pontiac guys, including me. :)
 

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Ah, oldskool, you are a man after my own heart with all the Pontiac circle track history. Both my wife's parents are buried in Daytona Memorial Park not all that far from Fireball Roberts' grave Edward Glenn "Fireball" Roberts (1929 - 1964) - Find A Grave Memorial

When my father-in-law passed two years ago, my wife and I had to clean out the house in Daytona Beach and I found some old receipts from the '50's where Smokey Yunick had done tuneups on my father-in-law's cars annually.

Glad you mentioned David Pearson's Pontiac connection. He is still in retirement on his peach farm over in Spartanburg county. Still gets out for history/tribute events at local tracks like Greenville-Pickens Speedway.

Really enjoyed your old photos. Especially the one of the "flag bearer", a tradition years ago at Darlington.
 

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I well remember the day that "Fireball" was involved in the wreck that would ultimately take his life. My older brother was a big race fan and we were listening to the race on the radio.

I also remember the day he died. He was my favorite driver and it was very upsetting to me.

But the greatest thing was when I met his widow, Doris Roberts. It was quite a few years ago during Autofair at Charlotte Motor Speedway. She was probably around 65 or 70 years young at the time. She was still his biggest fan and was excited to talk with folks that remembered him. She was with some of the guys in the Pontiac Club.
 
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