Lime Rock Park hosts NASCAR Pioneers at Busch North Finale
When NASCAR's Busch North Grand National stock car division visits Lime Rock Park for the season finale on Saturday October 18 the series will crown a new race winner and the '97 series champion, and also salute drivers from stock car racing's formative years, pioneers who helped to raise NASCAR racing from its Grand National origins to the major league status that Winston Cup racing occupies today
As part of the Burnham Boilers/Dodge Dealers NASCAR 200, the 1.53 mile Lime Rock Park road course in northwestern Connecticut will play host to a veritable "hall of fame" of stock car racing. Honored guests will include:
Tim Flock -NASCAR Grand National Champion 1952 & '55; 39 Grand National victories, including 18 in the 1955 season; '55 & '56 winner on the original beach course at Daytona
Herb Thomas - NASCAR Grand National Champion 1951 & '53; 48 Grand National victories, including 1951, '54 & '55 Southern 500. Thomas raced Hudsons, Chrylsers, and helped introduce and develop the Chevrolet V8 which is still a cornerstone of stock car racing
Frank "Rebel" Mundy - 1955 American Automobile Association stock car division champion
Jim Reed - NASCAR Grand National Short Track Champion 1953-54-55-56-57; NASCAR Southern 500 winner 1959
Ray Fox - chief mechanic for Kiekhafer Chrysler team 1956; crew chief for 1960 Daytona 500 winner Junior Johnson/Chevrolet; designer/builder of the Dodge which set World Closed Course Speed Record (181.818 mph) in 1965
Rene Charland - NASCAR Sportsman Division National Champion 1962-63-64-65
Roy Hallquist - United Stock Car Racing Club Grand American Champion; winner of 1964 Lime Rock Park Grand American late model stock car race
Bobby Devine - Connecticut veteran of NASCAR Grand National and United Stock Car Club Grand American division
Billy Greco - United Stock Car Racing Club modified division track champion Riverside Park (MA); also competed in Grand American division
Russ Truelove - 1959 Rhinebeck Speedway champion; veteran of beach races at Daytona 1953,'55,'56,'57
As much as the drivers, the cars were the stars of NASCAR's formative years. Fans accustomed to modern day Winston Cup/Busch Grand National "silhouette" racers, purpose-built racing machines draped in the caricature of production-line bodywork, may be startled at the "showroom" origins of these early era Grand National cars.
Headlining the cars which will appear at Lime Rock is the 1955 Chrysler 300 originally developed by Karl Kiekhafer, founder of the Mercury Outboard boat motor company. Kiekhafer's Chrylser team introduced the legendary hemi-head engine and scored numerous victories. New Hampshire's Bob Valpey purchased this racer from Keikhafer's estate and restored it in intricate detail to its original racing configuration. Other cars which will appear at Lime Rock will trace the evolution of late model stock car racing, from a 1954 Hudson to 70s era machines raced by superstars Richard Petty and A.J. Foyt. Also included in the exhibition will be a rare 1956 Ford convertible, one of the few surviving examples from the open-cockpit stock car division of the mid 1950s.
On Saturday October 18 raceday activities for the NASCAR Pioneers will include an exhibit on the Manufacturers Midway, an autograph session, and a lapping session reuniting these pioneer cars and drivers on the 1.53 mile road circuit.
For ticket information or a free copy of the Lime Rock Park TRACK RECORD newspaper call 1800RACELRP or visit us on the World Wide Web at http://www.limerock.com
For more information on the "NASCAR Pioneers" program contact R.E. Truelove Ltd. at (203) 759-0682, fax (203) 757-7492.