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Where in the world can you see Linda Vaughn (Miss Hurst) and David Pearson within 20 feet of each other? BRISTOL!

Bristol, TN 03/21/2009 Editorial by Jeff Kluss/SIT: Well it was a major weekend for the Bristol races, but what folks were sticking around for after the Nationwide Series Race on Saturday was much more significant to me and the other 100,000 fans which never left their seats. It only consisted of 35 laps and lasted for less than an hour including the driver introductions. Maybe it was the idea of getting to see a great event that may never occur again due to the aging Hall of Famers that participated. Possibly it was that these participants help shape and mold the sport of NASCAR. For me, it was the idea of seeing childhood heroes that raced like crazed men on a mission since it definitely wasn’t for the endorsement income since it didn’t exist when they competed.

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Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison in the infield at Daytona in 1979

Photo courtesy of ISC Archives

I was a late bloomer since I didn’t start attending NASCAR races on a regular basis until 1978. But I definitely remember what happened in Daytona in 1979. It was all over the television when Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough were battling down to the last lap…then it happened. They took each other out of the race, and Richard Petty took the win by default. But no one was paying attention to the King crossing the finish line since the spectacle was on the infield. Cale and Donnie were going at it while the crowd watched intently. 

_mg_9132-grpdrivermtg2Wayne Estes, Jack Ingram, Cale Yarborough, Sterling Marlin, Harry Gant, Phil Parsons at Driver’s Meeting.

calecompFirst Photo: Cale in the pits at Bristol. Second Photo: Cale coming out of turn 2 in his Late Model Busch sponsored car.

Those were the great days of NASCAR before fines and suspensions. All those memories and more came back in a flash with seeing all these great drivers back in a car, thanks to Wayne Estes and all the folks at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Special thanks to my second daddy Jack “Iron Man” Ingram for letting me tag along.  I was able to relive all the great memories of those bygone NASCAR days when big budgets and multiple team ownership were non-existent. It is still exhilarating to see fans recognize the 5 time Late Model Sportsman and Busch Series winner. And it was great to see a smile on his face when he got in his car once again. As we all know, heroes are a rare commodity today.

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Jack in his #11 Late Model before the race and then Jack “Iron Man” at Charlotte in 1974 with his Chevy Monte Carlo

What was very cool was listening in to all the conversations that were conducted left ear to left ear due to all these great drivers being mostly deaf in their right ears since there was very little or no ear protection in the old days.

jack-and-rusty-comp1Jack and Rusty discussing how the #2 car had an illegal B pillar and higher than legal rear spoiler..but the $200 thousand price tag for the car and wind tunnel testing for a Charitable race never came up…..or did it?

Of course the legends in attendance didn’t stop there. The Allison brothers showed up to see all the hoopla and to converse with all their former competitors.

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Bobby and Donnie Allison on the infield at Bristol, and of course Donnie’s Ford Torino at Daytona in 1969.

But another real treat was to see Robert “Junior” Johnson actually get in the car once again. Course Jimmy Spencer just had to tap him and spin him out before the race really got underway.

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Junior Johnson on the infield with David Green and of course Junior in his car at Daytona in 1964.

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Of course it was great seeing the two Skoal Bandit Drivers on the track once again…that is Harry Gant in the #33 and Jack Ingram in the #11.

It has been my privilege to go to more NASCAR races than I can begin to count, five Hall of Fame inductions where I sat at the table and told jokes with Jack, King Richard, and Benny Parsons. I’ve shared photographic stories with T. Taylor Warren (God bless you Taylor, you will be missed.) But actually getting an opportunity to see all my childhood heroes drive again was something that will never be forgotten. If you missed this one, you missed something really special. Wayne Estes and the folks at Bristol want to repeat this again, but it makes me wonder if this kind of magic can actually happen again? I hope so.

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