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Curtis Morton "Pops" Turner
Birthdate: April 12th, 1924
Died: October 4th, 1970 - DuBois, Pennsylvania (plane crash)
Hometown: Floyd, Virginia.

New Curtis Turner Book Now Available!

Full Throttle - The Life and Fast Times of Curtis Turner
Author:
Robert Edelstein
ISBN: 
1585674389     Format:  Hardcover     Publication Year:  2005
Category:  Biography & Memoir / Auto sports         Condition:  New

Price: $24.95 + 4.35 Shipping =
$ 29.30 Total
SPECIAL! Only 6 left! $14.00 Including Mailing!
Pay by PayPal
 

 

Page One - Curtis     Page Two - Curtis

Curtis Turner
'The Blond Blizzard of Virginia'   
by Charles R. Perry of Callaway, Virginia^

 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 1950)

  • 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

Teamsters Movement Fails To Take Over Auto Racing                 By: Keith Waltz   Posted On: 06/29/2010

Chris Ecomomaki interviewing Curtis Turner at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1966.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.

Wood, Whiskey, Women, and Winning : Curtis Turner
Driven to the Past · Vito Pugliese · Friday, September 21, 2007

Curtis 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 (inThe convertible master . . .  22 wins! 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 in 1961.

While 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 combined 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.Bad NASH wreck of Curtis Turner

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 car.

Upside down NashIn 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 NASCAR racing, 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.”

Curtis 87 and Dick Rathmann 3Turner 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 Clarence King.

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
 

Bootlegger 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 hard, 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 good liquor.

    

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 Curtis at Nascar Awards Banquet at the Daytona Plaza Resort in 1951. Cannonball Baker (sitting with glasses), Bill Tuthill handing out awardsecond race and began to build a reputation as perhaps the best dirt track driver of them all.

     Turner raced almost from the inception of 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.

     Away 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.


 

The Return 

Turner 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.

 

Curtis Turner,
Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall Of Fame 1992

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

The Curtis "Pops" Turner Story
Flatout, Fearless & Wide Open
(as found on www.CurtisTurnerMuseum.com)

Curtis Morton "Pops" Turner
was born on top of  Bent Mountain in 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.

No 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 enterprise” society!   

Morton 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.


Beach Racin'

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 watch.

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


                                Beautiful Model

STATISTICS

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) Motor Speedway.

Notes:

  • 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 Legend begins.
  • 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.

Win Summary

Race
Win#
Date Race Name Track
1 9/11/1949 Langhorne Speedway Langhorne Speedway
2 4/16/1950 Langhorne Speedway Langhorne Speedway
3 5/25/1950 Martinsville Speedway Martinsville Speedway
4 7/2/1950 Monroe County Fairgrounds Monroe County Fairgrounds
5 7/23/1950 Charlotte Speedway Charlotte Speedway
6 4/1/1951 Charlotte Speedway Charlotte Speedway
7 5/6/1951 Martinsville Speedway Martinsville Speedway
8 6/24/1951 Dayton Speedway Dayton Speedway
9 8/9/1953 Occoneeche Speedway Occoneeche Speedway
10 6/6/1954 Columbia Speedway Columbia Speedway
11 9/3/1956 Darlington Darlington
12 3/15/1958 Champion Speedway-Fayetteville Champion Speedway-Fayetteville
13 4/13/1958 Lakewood Speedway Lakewood Speedway
14 4/18/1958 Southern States Fairgrounds-Charlotte Southern States Fairgrounds-Charlotte
15 3/1/1959 Orange Speedway Orange Speedway
16 3/8/1959 New Concord Speedway New Concord Speedway
17 10/31/1965 Rockingham Rockingham

Track Summary

Track Wins Poles
Champion Speedway-Fayetteville 1  
Charlotte Speedway 2  
Columbia Speedway 1  
Darlington 1  
Dayton Speedway 1  
Lakewood Speedway 1  
Langhorne Speedway 2  
Martinsville Speedway 2  
Monroe County Fairgrounds 1  
New Concord Speedway 1  
Occoneeche Speedway 1  
Orange Speedway 1  
Rockingham 1  
Southern States Fairgrounds-Charlotte 1  


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 the
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

Editor's note: 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 ball money-wise.

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.

Curtis at Bowman Grey Stadium with starter Alex Hawkins; Rare Printers Block

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 equipment.

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 as scheduled.

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 the suspension.

His first major race was the 1965 National 400 at, where else, the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

 

 

Winner Take All?

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.

Rre Printers block; Curtis and his wife Anne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a little relaxin' in the pits

 

 

 

 

Always a trophy, Always a girl . . .

 

Ready to go




Curtis & Smokey
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 MPH.

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.

 

 

Curtis Turner & Big Bill
This 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 the 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 bet.

Other forms of racing:

 

Here's 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 1963 climb.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


    

 


More Curtis Turner    -  Page Two




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