From the time he learned to drive the roads of the
Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Curtis Turner showed his "stuff" every
time he got behind the controls of a motorized vehicle -- and it didn't make
any difference if the vehicle was a race car, family car, logging truck or
an airplane. Stories of his prowess and antics are numerous. For millions of
fans however, it was only in the race car where they wanted Curtis to be. He
is one of racing's greatest legends. To this day, when great drivers are
mentioned, Curtis' name is at the head of the list. Other NASCAR legends
spoke highly of Turner's racing abilities. Big Bill France, the founder of
NASCAR, said in 1972 that "Curtis Turner was the greatest race car driver I
have ever seen." Tim Flock, a two time Grand National Champion, echoed
France when he said in 1997 that "Curtis was the greatest driver who ever
ran in NASCAR."
To Turner's credit are over 350 wins. They include 18 Grand National (now
Nextel Cup) wins; 38 NASCAR Convertible Division wins (22 in '56 alone); many wins in other NASCAR, ARCA or non-sanctioned events and
the '62 Pike's Peak Climb in Colorado.
Curtis Turner holds several distinctions:
He is the only NASCAR driver to win two Grand National races in a row
from the pole by leading every lap (Rochester NY and Charlotte NC in July
He is the only driver to win 25 major NASCAR races in one season
driving the same car in each of them (in 1956 -- 22 were won as the #26
car in the convertible division, the other three, including the 1956
Southern 500, were with a top welded on.)
He is the only driver to win a major NASCAR race that was red-flagged
because his car was the only one still running (at the
Asheville-Weaverville NC track on September 30, 1956.)
He was the first driver to climb Pike's Peak in less than 15 minutes
(in a 1962 Ralph Moody Ford -- the actual time was 14 minutes 37 seconds
for the 14 mile course.)
He was the first winner of the American 500 at Rockingham NC (in a
1965 Woods Brother Ford.)
And he was the first driver to qualify for a NASCAR Grand National
race at a speed greater than 180 miles per hour (1967 Daytona 500, driving
#13, a 1967 Smokey Yunick Chevrolet.)
*Web Page originally from BlueRidgeThunder.org..
In 1997 we tried to start an outdoor drama about Curtis Turner here in
Franklin County, Virginia, just a few miles from the home place of
Curtis. In our efforts to start the outdoor drama (which was
incorporated here in Virginia as Blue Ridge Thunder Outdoor Drama
Company) Note: The Drama Company failed to get going and the web
page only existed five years from 1997. The writer Robert Edelstein
(author of "Full Throttle: The Life and Fast Times of Curtis
Turner" and "NASCAR Generations: The Legacy of Family in NASCAR
Racing") used our web page to contact me to learn more about Curtis.
Robert even visited me in my home and I introduced him to Curtis' widow,
Bunny Hall (who lives in Christiansburg, VA) and Glenn Woods
(who lives in nearby Stuart, VA). I even tried to introduced Robert to
Curtis' sister, Ruby Sink, but she would not meet with him. The
film producer, John Warner, IV, had his people contact me when he was
making a documentary about Curtis several years ago. by Charles R. Perry Butterfly Valley
945 Turners Creek Road Callaway VA 24067
Movement Fails To Take Over Auto Racing
By: Keith Waltz
When the Aug. 16, 1961, issue of National Speed Sport News arrived in mailboxes, race fans were shocked by the front-page headline: “RACE LEADERS BATTLE TEAMSTER INROADS.”
The issue included four stories, along with statements from NASCAR’s Bill France and USAC’s Tom Binford, detailing efforts by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters to unionize professional race-car drivers through the Federation of Professional Athletes.
Reports indicated the movement started when NASCAR driver Curtis Turner approached the Teamsters about a loan. Turner was attempting to obtain the money necessary to regain control of Charlotte Motor Speedway, the financially strapped race track he built and was president of until being forced out following the 1961 World 600.
The lead story on page three included: “Quietly and without fanfare, well-known race drivers, headed by Curtis Turner and ‘Fireball’ Roberts, met in Chicago last week with representatives of the Jimmy Hoffa-controlled Teamsters Union. The purpose was to form a union of all professional drivers cutting across NASCAR, USAC, IMCA and other boundaries. Also reported at the Chicago meeting were several Indianapolis race drivers including Paul Goldsmith and Don Branson.”
Later Turner reported a majority of the NASCAR Grand National drivers had signed applications and paid a $10 initiation fee for membership in the federation.
That news didn’t sit well with France.
“No known Teamster members can compete in a NASCAR race, and if this isn’t tough enough, I’ll use a pistol to enforce it,” he said. “I have a pistol, and I know how to use it. I’ve used it before. I am barring union members from races to protect the drivers who do not sign up.”
France suspended Turner, Roberts and Tim Flock for their roles in organizing the union, but Roberts was quickly reinstated when he backtracked and denounced the organization.
Turner said France’s ban against union members was a violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. He then outlined what the union wanted: “A pension plan, death benefits, health and welfare benefits and a scholarship fund for children of deceased members. Also strong and meaningful complaint procedures and assurances of adequate safety conditions.”
As it turned out, the attempt to unionize drivers was short-lived and the effort quickly faded away. But later in 1961, NASCAR did form an advisory council that included drivers Rex White and Ned Jarrett.
NASCAR rescinded the lifetime suspensions of Turner and Flock in 1965. Turner returned to driving while Flock continued to work at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but never drove in another NASCAR race.
Turner started out driving well
before he was old enough to get a driver’s
license. He hailed from the area of Bent
Mountain, Virginia, and as with many who lived
in remote regions of the South during this era,
Turner worked to export the local product:
Moonshine. He became as big of a legend running
illegal liquor as he did on the track. His
ability to outrun Federal agents as well as
local law enforcement earned Turner respect for
his skill behind the wheel and unlike his
counterpart Junior Johnson, Turner was never
apprehended by the police. He ran his first race
in 1946 in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. He finished
last in a field of 18. In his next start, he
won, beginning a legend as the best driver ever
to race on dirt.
Turner wasn’t only a racecar
driver, he was a businessman as well. A
self-made millionaire (in
1950’s dollars), he made a fortune buying and
selling timberlands. He would make a fortune and
then lose it
more than once in his career. He
once tried to broker a deal that would have
allowed the Ford Motor Company to advertise on
US currency. In 1959, with barely enough money
to buy the property, Turner would start
construction on the Charlotte Motor Speedway,
today known as Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Shortly
after the track opened, Turner would be pushed
out by his fellow investors, leaving him nearly
broke and without a track following his
banishment from NASCAR
he was allowed to drive, one of Turner’s most
memorable races was one he never won. On the
last lap of the 1961 Rebel 300 at Darlington, he
and Fred Lorenzen started the last lap
running door to door. It degenerated from there
into a slugfest. Lorenzen got the last hit on
Turner, and won the race. On the cool down lap,
Turner rammed his car into Lorenzen’s, crushing
the front end, in a scene that would serve as
the inspiration for one of the more memorable
scenes in Days of Thunder. Turner got out of his
car and walked back to the garage.
The Blond Blizzard of
Virginia was a legend in many respects; he
hard living, hard driving, and hard partying.
Curtis never won a Cup Championship, but he
never lost a party. His bashes were
legendary, often leaving right from a party to a
race, and returning back to the party
afterwards. An Oldsmobile pilot from 1950-1954,
he would then switch to Fords. In 1956 he would
win 22 races in NASCAR’s convertible series. He
never ran a full season to contend for a
championship, but not many drivers did in those
days. He was the first NASCAR
driver to appear on the cover of Sports
Illustrated; heralded as “The Babe Ruth of Stock
Car Racing.” He later would earn the nickname,
“Pops”, for his propensity to pop drivers in the
back and move them out of his way.
Turner broke many barriers in
racing: The first driver to win a race by two
laps, while leading every lap at Rochester, NY
and Charlotte, NC in 1950 . He was flagged the
winner at Weaverville in 1956 after the race was
red flagged, because all of the other cars had
wrecked or broke. That same year he won the
Southern 500 by two laps over pole-sitter
Speedy Thompson. In 1967 he qualified
Smokey Yunick’s #13 Chevrolet for the
Daytona 500 at 180.831mph, becoming the first
driver to break the 180mph barrier in a stock
1959, on a whim, Turner decided to build a
racetrack and conceived the Charlotte Motor
Speedway. With $2 million to work with, he began
moving dirt, only to hit a very large rock; he
would spend over $70,000 in dynamite trying to
blow up a gigantic piece of granite. As the
budget for the track continued to go up, the
contractors refused to finish the backstretch
shortly before the inaugural race in 1960. It
wasn’t until Curtis provided some persuasion in
the form of a Smith & Wesson revolver did the
equipment start moving again. This would,
however, prove to be his undoing.
Desperate for cash and to pay
off the debt he had incurred, Turner attempted
to organize a driver’s union in 1961. This was
heresy as far as Big Bill France was
concerned. Turner was issued a lifetime ban from
although in 1965 he was allowed to return to the
track. His final win would come that year at the
American 500, the first race ever held at the
North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham. At
Atlanta in 1967, Turner crashed heavily in
Yunick’s Chevrolet, a violent wreck that led
Yunick to pull his entry from the race stating,
“I’m not going to build the car that Curtis
Turner gets killed in.”
would retire from racing following the 1968
season, and would die in a plane crash near
Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania on October 14, 1970.
The crash also claimed the life of golfer
Benny Parson is quoted
as saying, “ask any race fan under 50 who’s the
best racecar driver of all time, and they’ll say
Dale Earnhardt. Ask any race fan over 50,
and they’ll say Curtis Turner.” Turner
one time lined up eight glass jars of moonshine
on an empty road, and proceeded to slide a
Cadillac in between them, executing a 180
“Bootlegger Turn” ….sliding the car backwards
through them. He did so cleanly, not spilling as
much as a drop. He emerged from the car and in
his slow Virginian drawl said, “It was easy…..I
couldn’t waste all the good liquor.”
1957 Martinsville Convertible Race
or Legend? The 'Blond Blizzard of Virginia'
Curtis Turner was one of the pioneers of NASCAR stock car
racing, a member of that hale and hearty band of competitors who raced
lived hard and enjoyed every moment of it.
He never let racing interfere
with parties and fun. In fact, there were times when he went from one of his
marathon parties straight to the race track. If a lack of sleep affected his
driving perception, it was not evident. He was a remarkable man but,
understandably, he wasn't as remarkable as the legend which grew around him.
He learned two things quickly: the lumber business and driving an
automobile. He was raised in the era of booting whiskey so, naturally, he
became part of the lore. There is no proof he drove the modified Fords which
hauled "moonshine" because his name never appeared on the police blotter.
But the many legends about his expertise in the field undoubtedly have some
basis in fact. Once he lined
up eight full bottles of liquor on the roadway in a double row barely wider
than the Cadillac with which he proposed to execute a tail sliding 180
degree turn to slide backwards between the bottles. He performed the
maneuver, then got out and drawled, "It was easy. I couldn't waste all the
Turner began "real" racing in 1946 at a small track in Mount Airy, NC,
finishing last in a field of 18 cars. But he won his second race and began
to build a reputation as perhaps the best dirt track driver of them all.
Turner raced almost from the
NASCAR. He was a star of Oldsmobile from 1950 through 1954, when he switched
to Ford. He was originally billed as the 'Blond Blizzard from Virginia' but
he quickly picked up the nickname Pops for the way he routinely popped
competitors off the track with great abandon.
He won 22 races in NASCAR's old convertible division in
1956 and added 17 and the Southern 500 in the Grand National division for
good measure. With his free for all style, Turner won 360 races, in NASCAR
and out. Perhaps, though, one of his most memorable races was one he didn't
win. In the Rebel 300 at Darlington, SC. Turner and Fred Lorenzen started
the last lap fender to fender. What had started out as fender banging
evolved into a minor demolition derby around the 1-3/8th mile track.
Lorenzen got in the last bash and won the race but on
the extra "cool down"
lap, Turner plowed into Lorenzen, smashing the front end of his own car to
bits. He walked back to the pits.
from the track, Turner added to his Bunyanesque reputation. He made and lost
and remade fortunes buying and selling timberlands. In 1960, he conceived
Charlotte Motor Speedway and somehow, with hardly
enough money to pay for
the property, he got it built only to lose it soon afterward.
After a view from the business
side, he was convinced the drivers were getting a shabby deal from NASCAR.
He attempted to organize the drivers as a local of the Teamsters Union,
which failed utterly and caused him to be banished from NASCAR for life.
But, by 1965, NASCAR President Bill France Sr. rescinded the banishment.
made his return to competition in the American 500 at North Carolina Motor
Speedway in Rockingham, NC. Despite a broken rib, Turner started fourth in a
Ford owned by Glen Wood. He was a contender from the beginning. He fought
off drivers whose fathers had once been his rivals. Finally it was between
Turner and the idol of the young, Cale Yarborough. Lap after lap, Turner
held off every Yarborough probe and went on to score his most lucrative
victory. His great driving talent never left him.
Turner came back to win the
Permatex 300 in a Late Model Sportsman car at Daytona Beach, FL,the following year. Then he and Smokey Yunick collaborated on a Chevelle.
But Turner crashed heavily in Atlanta and Yunick withdrew, saying, "I will
not build the car that Curtis Turner was killed in." (*See
Story & Pix below)
After that, Turner raced infrequently, coming out of retirement when
the price was right. He had intended to come out for the National 500 at
Charlotte in 1970 when his plane crashed against a mountainside near
Punxsutawney, PA, on October 4, killing him and a passenger, golf
professional Clarence King.
Turner's passing marked the end
of an era in automobile racing, for today's professional is committed to the
proposition that driving race cars requires complete dedication, with which
parties cannot interfere. Turner was a different breed and his success
earned him his lofty perch in motorsports history.
Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall Of Fame 1992
Morton "Pops" Turner
was born on top of Bent Mountainin Floyd, Virginia,
a small town in the Southwest Blue Ridge Mountains on April 12, 1924 (just a short distance West of the Blue Ridge
Parkway.) He died in a private plane crash on October 4th, 1970 in DuBois,
Pennsylvania. His proud parents were Morton & Minnie Turner. Later on,
Curtis would have a brother, Darnell, to go along with his two sisters,
Dove & Ruby.
one really knows for sure the first time Curtis started driving, though
judging by most accounts, he was definitely too young for a driver’s
license. He was just helping his Dad anyway, so that didn’t really
matter. We know he was brought up to respect his elders, as he learned
a great deal from them, especially his Dad, Morton Turner. One thing he
learned just by living like a Turner, which is summed up in this quote:
“You can always tell a Turner, but not much!” Yes, Morton was his own
man & he taught Curtis to be his own man. That’s why it’s not surprising
that in the old Days of Prohibition, Revenuers were looked at as more of
a nuisance and an intrusion than anything else. Basically, a lot of
people thought the government had no business acting silly about
controlling something someone else had made to sell, in this “free
Turner was a true mountain entrepreneur so having a productive still was
part of taking care of the family and since Curtis was part of that
family, his job was delivering it to the customers. From a very early
age Curtis developed his talent as a “delivery boy” who could not be
caught, by anyone. His talent at driving was so incredible that even
the revenuers had great respect for him. One of the secret weapons of
the moonshine runner was, of all things, corn cobs. The corn cobs were
used to plug the bullet holes in the gas tank. There were many times
that the corn cobs saved a valued load of “mountain milk”. To this day
the stories are told of how Curtis would still get away free and clear
from 4 to 5 revenuers and the local law in hot pursuit, without a dent.
His ability to turn a car 180 degrees in a very small space is
legendary. Curtis was a flat out and wide open “fearless” driver
throughout his life.
The historical North Turn of the Beach-Road Course in Daytona Beach is the
subject of this artprint from motorsports artist Bill Rankin. This is
the 1957 convertible classic which was won by Tim Flock in a 1957 Mercury in
a record that still stands to this day as the fastest convertible race ever
run over the 4.1 mile track. Flock battled with Curtis Turner (#26),Joe Weatherly and team mate Billy Myers before being able to
claim the victory. The Atlantic ocean is the
back drop, with the grandstands and infield packed, this one of a kind race
track is long gone now, but lives on in this artwork.
"Pops" Curtis(26) leads "Little Joe" Weatherly (12)
through the famous North Turn in the popular Convertible Division.
The convertibles were a fan favorite because the fans could see their
driver. With no radios in the cars, the drivers hand antics were fun to
Convertibles were also similar to the more popular
open wheel racers of the day.
Going into the North Turn, with Joe Weatherly leading
(a Gary Hill painting)
Turner coming off the pavement
into the South Turn
Cup Debut: Charlotte Speedway (.750 mile dirt
track) Races: 183 Wins: 17
Convertible Wins: 22 Poles: 16 Top Fives: 54 Top Tens: 73
Career Highlights: Won the 1956 Southern 500; 22
wins in convertible division in 1956; first driver ever to win
back-to-back races from the pole, while leading every lap; and the
first driver to qualify for a race at over 180 mph. Was also the
brains and backing behind the construction of Charlotte (Now Lowe’s)
Ran his first race in 1946 in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. He
finished last in a field of 18. In his next start, he won. The
He was the first NASCAR driver to
appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated; heralded as “The Babe
Ruth of Stock Car Racing.”
He would earn the nickname, “Pops”, for his propensity to
pop drivers in the back and move them out of his way.
Monroe County Fairgrounds
Monroe County Fairgrounds
Southern States Fairgrounds-Charlotte
Southern States Fairgrounds-Charlotte
New Concord Speedway
New Concord Speedway
Monroe County Fairgrounds
New Concord Speedway
Southern States Fairgrounds-Charlotte
Inaugural Daytona 500, February 2, 1959 - 41 Curtis Turner, #43 Richard Petty
These Ford Thunderbirds were "pop-tops" and could be also raced as convertibles.
The # 64 Fritz Wilson was sponsored by Bill Tuthill's Museum of Speed
1/18th Scale Model by Edd VandenTak
This is the repli-car that was in the Daytona area for a number of years. When
old Klassix Museum with the Corvettes was bought out, someone in Arizona
warehoused the car and it was in an auction with no takers. Needs A LOT of work.
Curtis Just Decided To Build A Race Track
by Dick Ralstin
Here's one for
Ripley, a Curtis Turner story and not one mention of booze or sex.
I asked Curtis why one day, and he replied, "One day I was
driving down the road and just decided to build a race track. I hadn't planned
it or anything, I had the piece of ground, about 10 miles northeast of
Charlotte, where the track is today, so I built it."
The name may be changed now, but to me, and I hope
thousands of others, the Charlotte Motor Speedway will always be the race
track that Curtis Turner built.
The year was 1959 and Pops, a nickname Curtis earned from
"popping' slower cars out of the way in the early, and later, dirt track days,
rounded up a little over two million in financing and started moving dirt.
The money would probably have done the job if it hadn't
been for some bad information. They told Curtis he would probably hit some
rocks in the first and second turn area of his new speedway.
WRONG, the construction crew didn't hit rocks, they hit
just one rock but that turkey was the mother of all rocks. One solid chunk of
granite under that end of the speedway and about half the infield.
Curtis spent more than $70,000 for dynamite alone to blast
the granite into pieces small enough to haul out of the place. The whole thing
run the cost up at least another $500,000 and put poor Pops behind the eight
Curtis dug deep, he borrowed money from friends in the
lumber business, he borrowed from
every bank that would loan him money, he even managed to
get a chunk from Champion Spark Plug Co., always the racer's friend.
But it seemed like he always came up a day late and a
couple dollars short. A few days before the first race was scheduled, the
World's 600, June 19, 1960, there was a short piece of the backstretch still
not paved, and one of the contractors still owed some money.
Well the unhappy contractor parked his heavy equipment in
front of the paving machine and told Curtis to either pay up or he wouldn't move the
So, as Curtis told the story, he and a couple of friends, a
Mr. Smith and a Mr. Wesson, convinced the contractor this was not a way for
friends to act --- the paving was completed and the first World's 600 went off
There were three major races run on Curtis's new track and
each one helped pay of the debt. But it was not fast enough for the board of
directors. Curtis needed money and he needed it pronto.
Now the Teamsters Union was attempting to set up a Federation
of Professional Athletes and Pops saw a glimmer of hope. Maybe he could help
organize the drivers and the Teamsters could loan him the cash he needed.
Sounded good except, except one guy didn't take a shine to
Curtis's idea. Big Bill France.
Big Bill called a meeting of all the drivers, all except
Curtis and Tim Flock who weren't invited.
According to the Charlotte Observer France laid it on the
line to the drivers, "Before I have a union stuffed down my throat I will plow
up the track in Daytona and, after the next race, no known union member can
compete in a NASCAR race." End of statement, end of union, end of Curtis chance
for the loan.
Big Bill barred Pops and Flock from NASCAR for life. Curtis
tried to get reinstated under the right-to-work laws but that didn't work and
France refused to let him and Flock back in NASCAR.
To add insult to injury the board of directors at the
Charlotte Motor Speedway ousted Curtis from control of his race track.
After four years other NASCAR promoters felt Curtis could
help them sell tickets, if he was racing, and on Sept. 30, 1965 Big Bill lifted
His first major race was the 1965 National 400 at, where
else, the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Old Pops quickly showed the troops the lay off hadn't killed
the desire, or lessened the talent, a bit.
After 395 miles, of the 400, Lorenzen, Foyt and Dick
Hutcherson were running three abreast, and had been for several laps, with Pops
nipping at their heels in fourth.
Coming up to the white flag Foyt got high going into the
third turn and got into the marbles. With Foyt headed for the guardrail Curtis
had to lift to give him room, but Pops still managed a third place finish in one
of NASCAR's all time best races. Two weeks later Curtis won the first race ever held on the
band spanking new one-mile oval at Rocking- ham, N.C.
Just a little relaxin' in the pits
Always a trophy, Always a girl . . .
Ready to go
I've heard it said that during Curtis' driving career he won
more than 350 races, but it all came to an end in 1967 at Atlanta International
Raceway when he had a horrific crash driving Smokey Yunick's little black and
gold Chevelle # 13.
Curtis was badly shaken but not seriously hurt one of the
most spectacular crashes ever, but Smokey fired Pops on the spot. About the firing Smokey said, "I'm not going to build the
race car the kills Curtis Turner."
Riverside Raceway 1966
HERE'S ONE OF CURTIS TURNER IN THE
ESSES AT RIVERSIDE RACEWAY TAKEN IN JANUARY 1966 AT THE MOTOR TREND 500.
THIS WAS HIS FIRST RIVERSIDE RACE. (top right & left)
CURTIS WAS KNOWN TO DRIVE A HARD
BUT HONEST RACER. HE HAD A HEATED BATTLE WITH DAVID PEARSON DURING THE RACE
WHICH INCLUDED A FEW OFF TRACK EXCURSIONS. CURTIS FINISHED 4TH BEHIND
PEARSON AND GOLDSMITH.
DAN GURNEY WON THE RACE AT 97.9
DAVID PEARSON WON THE G.N.
CHAMPIONSHIP WINNING 15 RACES. DAVID WON A STAGGERING $59,205 FOR THE YEAR.
THAT WAS PRETTY GOOD MONEY IN 1966. CURTIS FINISHED THE SEASON OUTSIDE THE
TOP 20 IN POINTS.
1965 AND 1966 WERE THE YEARS OF
ENGINE BANS WITH THE CHRYSLER HEMI IN 1965 AND THE FORD SOHC 427 AT THE
START OF 1966. FORD SAT OUT MUCH OF 1966, EVEN AFTER MID-SEASON RULE CHANGES
ALLOWED THE SOHC 427 WITH A WEIGHT HANDICAP. THE WEDGE ENGINES WERE ALLOWED
TO RUN TWO FOUR-BARREL CARBS. THE CARS RAN ON A LB/CI WEIGHT RULE AND SMALL
BLOCKS WERE EVEN TRIED BY SOME, INCLUDING BOBBY ALLISON WITH A 327.
FORD WON THE MANUFACTURERS TITLE
WITH 10 WINS AND 216 CARS WITH TOP 10 FINISHES. PLYMOUTH TOOK SECOND WITH 16
WINS AND 92 TOP 10 FINISHES. DODGE FINISHED THIRD WITH THE MOST WINS WITH
18, 98 TOP 10 FINISHES AND HAD THE BEST WIN AVERAGE OF .318.
& Big Bill
might surprise a lot of people, but you see, sometime around 1960, Ol' Curtis got
his-self in some hot water with NASCAR's Big Bill France by trying to start a
driver's Union. France didn't appreciate anyone tell'n him to run his
little-operation, so he promptly banned one of the greatest drivers in the
history of stock car racing...good think'n, huh? Now, why that wasn't a
violation of the Labor Relations Act still isn't clear to me, but never mind. So,
that pretty-much left Curtis with the choice of racing in USAC, or go'n back to
a regular job. Now, since the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, and a companion road race
that they usually held the week before the PPHC at Continental Divide Raceway,
was on the USAC stock car national tour back then, Curtis Turner always showed
up. He always drove Denver's Courtesy-Motors Ford stocker, as I recall. And,
since he was a fabulous driver, he usually won the race or finished near
top...even though there were "RIGHT" turns involved. I know there aren't a lot
of people outside of Colorado that much-care about the PPHC. But, I think you'll
get a kick out of some of the cars that Turner drove up Pikes Peak. Remember, in
the 1960's, for the most part, the stock cars that raced were production cars
that had the interiors removed, a roll bar installed, and the header pipes
opened...that's all. They were truly "Stock" cars. Any of today's musclecar
collectors would love to have any of these cars in their collections today, I'll
Other forms of racing:
Turner's 1961 Ford that he finished second in the climb with in 1961. It's a
390/375-horse, 2-door post coupe, 4-speed tranny. The car was sponsored by
Courtesy-Motors Ford, Englewood, CO. Ever seen a '61 Ford with a 4-speed?
Here's Turner's 1962 Ford that he won the PPHC with
in 1962. It's a 406/405-horsepower engine with the tri-power setup replaced with
a single-4bbl carb, 2-door hardtop, 4-speed tranny.
Here's Turner's 1963 427/410 Ford Galaxie fastback
that he finished 2nd to Parnelli Jones's similar Mercury Marauder with in the
Curtis Turner LOVED sports car racing and was good at it.
Here he is with Jerry Earl with Bill France Sr's number 92 Corvette