Scotty Cain was a tough, hard-nosed driver and a larger-than-life character. His aggressive driving style earned him the nickname “The Peck’s Bad Boy of Auto Racing” and he wasn’t afraid to mix it up during his 25-year career.
Racing out of Venice, Calif., Cain came up through jalopy racing, winning at Carrell Speedway, Huntington Beach, Culver City and Veteran’s Stadium in Long Beach.
Cain was another versatile driver of the era, hopping between track roadsters, stock cars and jalopies while dabbling in midgets. He raced jalopies when their races were televised weekly on Los Angeles stations, first from Culver City and then from Gardena Stadium, the broadcasts reaching a wide area of the southwestern United States.
Cain won at least a couple of CRA feature races and was leading the 500-mile sprint-car race on the Riverside Int’l Raceway road course in 1958 when he hit the turn-six wall and lost a wheel off of his Buick-powered Kurtis Indy roadster. Afterward, he concentrated on stock cars, always in Ford products. In July 1958, he raced up Pike’s Peak, drove in a USAC stock-car race on the mile at Milwaukee and an ARCA race at Toledo, Ohio.
The main reason Cain is not better known is that he confined most of his racing to the West Coast. In addition to the 1958 foray, he only made two NASCAR starts outside of the West — on the beach at Daytona in 1957 and a race at the Charlotte (N.C.) fairgrounds in late 1959 that ended with his T-Bird on fire.
Cain won 11 times on NASCAR’s Western circuit, with five of those coming in his first championship season of 1967. In 1968, a tight point battle with Ray Elder went down to the final race at Saugus (Calif.) Speedway. Elder needed to finish one position ahead of Cain, and was doing so when forced to pit to change a right-rear tire with just 14 laps to go. Cain went on to finish third, winning his second-consecutive title — this one by just two points. At age 48, Cain still ranks as one of the oldest champions in NASCAR touring series history.
Cain competed in NASCAR’s Western series three more years before retiring as a driver following the 1971 season. He retired to the city he’d raced out of for several years — Fresno, Calif. — where he owned a bar. Scotty Cain passed away on Dec. 2, 1994. Reportedly, he discovered he had cancer after being injured while breaking up a fight at his bar, at age 74. To quote the late Jack McCoy, the career victories leader in NASCAR’s Western series, “All of us in the sport loved the volatile and funny Cain. He was a uniquely colorful guy.” Cain was inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in 2002.