Monday, April 18, 2011

Wild Weekend at Talladega

The ARCA race was won by 18-year old Ty Dillon (grandson of Richard Childress) over 8-time ARCA champ Frank Kimmel by a few feet. On Sunday, Jimmy Johnson with dancing partner Dale Jr. won the Aarons 499 at Talladega by less than a blink of an eye (.002 seconds).

Two Talladega stories come to mind. From my interview with Paul Goldsmith (winner of the last race on the beach at Daytona in 1958), he told me about testing cars that were coming too close to takeoff speed at Talladega and NASCAR asking he and his legendary mechanic partner Ray Nichols for advice…their solution: inventing the prototype restrictor plate.

The second came from my interview with Joe Ruttman when I asked him if he ever thought he was “going TOO fast in a race car.” He told me about “shaking down” a fast running Mercury for a friend at the Talladega Superspeedway and suddenly realizing the grandstands were going by out the driver’s side window in the tri-oval at over 200 mph. His exact words were, “oh shit, I’d better look for a soft place to land.”

See Paul Goldsmith's and Joe Ruttman's entire interviews in the book Living On The Edge: A History of Auto Racing in Michigan, coming out in August.

What do you think of the “looking for a prom date” tandem drafting at Daytona and Talladega?

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Rick. I must be fun interviewing these racing greats.