50 Years Ago – November 16, 1960
Robert “Red” Byron, NASCAR’s first driving champion in 1948, suffered a heart attack Nov. 11 and was found dead in his Chicago hotel room. A stock-car pioneer who won numerous races prior to World War II, Byron, 45, was managing the Scarab sports car team at the time of his death.
25 Years Ago – November 20, 1985
Dick Trickle defended his Florida Late Model Triple Crown title despite not winning a feature during the three-night series. Trickle finished third Friday, fourth Saturday and second Sunday to secure the championship, while Butch Miller won two races and Dave Breakfield inherited the third after Miller was disqualified for a weight violation.
Countdown To 100
Among the many great drivers who starred at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Ralph DePalma put up some legendary numbers. Born in Apulia, Italy, in 1882, he came to America when he was 11 years old. He drove in the first Indy 500 in 1911 at age 29.
He led 196 laps of the 1912 race before a broken crankshaft forced him out of the race. He won the 1915 500 and would have won several others if not for mechanical failures. He drove his last 500 in 1930 and had led 613 laps, a figure not topped until 1992. He won 24 AAA national events. Miraculously, despite racing in a brutal era, DePalma competed until 1936, at age 54.
Newsmaker – Kyle Petty
Veteran NASCAR driver Kyle Petty and his father, Richard, were among those involved in a new sprint-car sanctioning body, which was officially announced Sept. 23, 2005, during the NASCAR weekend in Dover, Del.
Petty said the National Sprint Car League had signed three-year agreements with a dozen current World of Outlaws drivers, including 19-time series champion Steve Kinser and 2001 titlist Danny Lasoski.
“This is a long-term commitment to this sport,” Kyle Petty said. “We are here for the long haul.”
However, the new organization struggled to secure dates and sign sponsors and by Thanksgiving the Pettys had withdrawn their support. The much-heralded National Sprint Car League eventually faded away without ever conducting a race.
Chris’s Column – April 20, 2005
“How times change. In 1938 when Ye Ed went to work in ‘Gasoline Alley’ in Paterson, N.J., in charge of Duane Carter’s outboard midget, the pay for working seven days and racing seven nights a week was $15 — when he could afford it. In a recent Texas interview, noted NASCAR crew chief turned TV analyst Larry McReynolds revealed when working for Robert Yates’s Winston Cup team in the mid 1990s, he was paid $250,000 a year.”