Hall of Fame Heroes: Throwback Scheme Honors Legends With Local Ties

In addition to paying tribute to Rodney Childers’ crew chief of the Stewart-Haas/Harrison’s No. 4 Ford Mustang Dark Horse, our Darlington Throwback Weekend paint scheme features several tributes to our roots and to racing in the communities where our business was born. Legendary Greenville-Pickens Speedway and Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds Speedway are represented on the hood and deck lid, respectively. And the names alongside those tributes feature ten NASCAR Hall-of-Famers with deep ties to Upstate South Carolina. Here’s a look at those names, and just a few of their notable accomplishments.

David Pearson

The first name on the list has deep ties to both legendary tracks depicted. Legend has it that Pearson climbed a tree near the Fairgrounds, peered in at the cars on the track, and decided then and there what he wanted to do with his life. Years later, he won the 1959 track championship at Greenville-Pickens, which jump-started his NASCAR career. He rarely ran a full schedule on the top circuit, but when he showed up, he was usually the guy to beat. Pearson won 105 races in 574 starts, and the Silver Fox is regarded as one of the best of all-time. His championships in 1966, 1968, and 1969 were high-water marks, but 1974 is often thought of as his best. That year, Pearson ran just 19 of 30 races in the top series, winning at Darlington, Talladega, Daytona, Michigan, Rockingham, and twice at Charlotte, finishing third in the series standings.

Cotton Owens

Owens did it all as a driver and a car owner, earning the admiration and respect of the sport’s very best. He was particularly good at the Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds track, where his two wins include a dominant outing in 1960. The only Pontiac in the field, Owens sat at the pole, led all 200 laps, and won by 20 yards. His greatest success as an owner came with Pearson behind the wheel, as 27 of Pearson’s 105 career wins and the 1966 series championship came in an Owens car. The Spartanburg legends’ relationship was so deep that in 1964, Owens came out of retirement at Richmond to show Pearson some of the finer points of teamwork. Pearson ran second that day. It marked Owens’ last victory as a driver.

Bud Moore

He called himself “an old country mechanic who loved to make ‘em run fast”. Other people called Walter Maynard Moore, Jr. a bunch of things – including a war hero, with multiple Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts. He was a top mechanic, and a championship-winning crew chief. He fielded cars as an owner for lifelong friend Owens, along with a laundry list of top NASCAR stars. Moore won back-to-back series championships with Joe Weatherly as his driver. He taught the legendary Wood Brothers how to discern horsepower with a slide rule on a dynamometer. His list of Hall of Fame inductions includes the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame, the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

Rex White

White moved to Spartanburg in 1958, two years into his NASCAR career to team up with friend, partner, and chief mechanic Louis Clements. White won 28 races in his career as a driver, including the 1960 Grand National Series championship. White’s win total isn’t the most impressive thing about his career, however. He was incredibly consistent, finishing in the Top 10 163 times in 233 career races, a mark of about 70 percent and one which is unlikely to be approached.

Buck Baker

Baker, with Jarrett is one of only two drivers to complete more than 1,000 laps at the Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds track, which was known to reward drivers who took care of their equipment. He is the first driver to win back-to-back championships in the sport’s top series, then the Grand National Series, with Moore as his crew chief.

Lee Petty

The patriarch of the winningest family in NASCAR history got the first NASCAR Grand National win ever at the Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds Speedway, taking the checkers at the July 4, 1953 race that had so many twists and turns (just wait until you read what happened to Tim Flock) that it would make a barely-believed movie. The inaugural Daytona 500 winner and first man to win three championships in what is now the NASCAR Cup series won three times at Spartanburg, with son Richard winning three times as well. That puts the Hub City as the site of six of the duo’s 254 wins.

Junior Johnson

The former bootlegger who transformed into a towering figure of the sport known as “The Last American Hero” had three Top 5s, four Top 10s, and won a pole at the Fairgrounds. He went on to win 50 races, six championships as a team owner, and is known as an innovator – he was the first to identify the principles of drafting – and a short track expert. Johnson has become synonymous with stock car racing.

Ned Jarrett

There’s dominant, and then there’s what Ned Jarrett did at Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds in 1965. Jarrett is the most-decorated driver in the speedway’s history, winning six races to double both Lee and Richard Petty. On Feb. 27, 1965, Jarrett took the checkered flag by a staggering 22 laps over second-place G.C. Spencer. In that 100-mile race over a half-mile track, that translates to a winning margin of 11 MILES. He duplicated that 22-lap win at Cleveland County Fairgrounds in Shelby, N.C. in May, and won the Southern 500 at Darlington by 14 laps and 19.25 miles, the largest win by distance in NASCAR history. In the 55 races of that 1965 season, no other drive drove by double digits. Jarrett did it three times, by a total of 58 laps.

Tim Flock

Flock notched a win at the Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds, but the biggest win there might be the fact that he was able to continue racing after that fateful, first Grand National event won by Lee Petty. A number of drivers drove all night from Rochester, New York, site of the previous event, to make it to Spartanburg in time for the event. Flock was one of them, and he and another driver decided to take a nap in the infield. A spark plug representative, not seeing the drivers, ran over Flock with his car, then panicked and left. Six highway patrolmen and fellow driver Herb Thomas had to lift the truck off of Flock, who miraculously suffered no lasting damage and returned to race, winning at the Fairgrounds two years later.

Fireball Roberts

The popular and talented Roberts didn’t get a win at Spartanburg, but he tended to run well at the Fairgrounds track, finishing with a pair of Top 5s, four Top 10s, and a pole win at the track. The former hard-throwing high school pitcher (that’s where the nickname came from) had movie-star looks and charisma and an ease with the media that made him wildly popular. And he could DRIVE: in 1958 Roberts started just 10 races on the sport’s top series. He won six of them.


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