Tag: Nascar

A Stock Car at La Sarthe – Andrew Miles @DriventoWrite

A Stock Car at La Sarthe – Andrew Miles @DriventoWrite


NASCAR comes to Le Mans

June 1976: The United States of America is about to celebrate its bicentennial. And what better way to mark such an auspicious event than conquering a certain French motor racing circuit with some all-American iron?

Three years before, the oil crisis affected the pockets of Joe Public and racing teams alike. Budgets were slashed, ideas sidelined but racing continued if perhaps not as freely as before. The Automobile Club de L’Ouest (ACO), fastidious organisers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans were struggling to fill the fifty-five-place grid for the ‘76 event. They turned to Big Bill France, owner of Daytona International Speedway, home to the Stateside version of the twice round the clock endurance[1]. In a spirit of International Exchange, the ACO would allow NASCAR entries from across the pond under the ‘Grand International’ class. 

The Grand National series cars could maintain their hallmarks; namely, a stock body with tubular frame and protective rollcage, body panels in steel, stock suspension components and of course a dirty great big block V8 up front. The only provisos being functional head and taillights, wipers, tow hooks and side view mirrors on both sides. Those low down and darty prototypes might just attempt an overtake on either side. Bill France chose two NASCAR teams – a Winston Cup Ford Torino under the established Junie Dunlavey team alongside a more prosaic entry from one Hershel McGriff. Together, they earned the French nickname, Les Monstres!

McGriff was a privateer but a veteran racer from the late 1940s. Buying an Oldsmobile 88 for under $2,000 he entered and won the inaugural Carrera Panamerica in 1950 propelling him into NASCAR stardom. However, Hershel ran a lumber mill back home in Oregon. Together with a growing family led McGriff to park his racing ideas for over a decade before the racing bug bit back.

Keeping things familial (father and son), once finished at the mill of a Friday evening, Doug would head out to compete in the regional Winston West Cup, the weekend mechanics being lumber mill workers. Their weapon of choice, a Chevrolet Chevelle sporting Olympia Beer sponsorship. The set-up proved successful with victorious campaigns reaping rewards. The Chevelle was replaced by a 1972 Dodge Charger that had been built and prepared by Ray Nichels, linked to future NASCAR royalty Richard Petty.

In the McGriff hands, the Charger won the Oregon State Championship from ‘73-75 whereupon they sold the car, only to hastily retrieve it when the invitation to head to Le Mans came from France. In those far off, innocent days, it was widely considered the Charger’s shape was better aerodynamically for high-speed laps over any other current NASCAR fare.

Fettling the car as per the ACO’s strictures, spares, including engines were crated up[2] in preparation for the trip across the Atlantic. Petty and Nichels had discovered a power advantage by fitting Wedge heads onto (what became known as choaked) Hemi heads. Two spare mills came over – one stock Hemi head, one Wedge topped.

As a means of instilling some interest-class rivalry, teams McGriff and Donlavey were backed up by four IMSA representatives comprising a Chevrolet Monza and Corvette with a brace of 911s – one RS, one RSR. Also consider the Le Mans big guns consisted of a Porsche 936 driven by a victorious Jacky Ickx with Patrick Tambay in an Alpine (DNF). Henri Pescarolo and John-Pierre Beltoise in the Inaltera (18th) with Ford also providing power to both Mirage, piloted by Derek Bell (5th) and a Lola with fellow Englishman Alain de Cadenet, who finished a highly creditable third. Other notable entrants being a Lancia Stratos (20th), five BMW 3.0 CSL’s, the usual flotilla of Porsche 911s and a lone de Tomaso Pantera – sadly, a non-starter – engine fault.

With engine maladies we remain. A standard NASCAR engine was tuned to run on octane over 100. McGriff’s knew the French race ran on standard pump fuel thus the engines (both heads) had visited Seattle-based Precision Engines for a 93-octane tune. The Wedge Hemi had an 11:1 compression ratio – good for 630bhp and 215mph along the Mulsanne straight. The standard Hemi ran at 13:1 with broadly similar outputs.

The problem lay within a measuring anomaly. European and American octane ratings differ; the European style 93 significantly lower than the equivalent Stateside 82, which led to almost instantaneous trouble. During qualifying, such lean running led to burnt pistons after only a single lap – the time of 4:30 meaning a lowly grid start[3].  Short on time in as much engineering tooling, the only workable solutions were to retard the timing, enrich the mixture and even fit a second head gasket to try and reduce compression.

The Americans, though competitive were in holiday mood. Whilst miffed at the problems, the McGriff team thought nothing of filling the Charger with teammates and heading off into town, stretching the car’s legs along the Mulsanne. Fabled tales of a trip to the Tertre Rouge corner café linger long in local minds

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Classic NASCAR Stock Cars Take Back Rockingham Speedway! (They Let Us Drive One) – Stapleton42


Motorsports 4 the Masses teamed up with the Stock Car Classics Facebook group to bring all these guys out on the same day! Everything from current Xfinity series cars to 1950s tribute racers and museum quality stuff! North Carolina Motor Speedway hosted its last Cup series race in 2004. After a half life with some events and a period of complete neglect it is finally coming back!

Join the channel members club to get access to perks: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAfc…

Shirts and Decals: https://stapletonautoworks.com

NASCAR downsized: Which one of these sell-on-Monday cars would you choose for your dream garage? – Matt Litwin @Hemmings


Word on the street was that Detroit was introducing downsized cars for 1977. When NASCAR got wind during the ’76 season, it began exploring the idea of initiating a rule change that would mandate a 110-inch wheelbase chassis, versus the then-current 115-inch design. But once that process began, developmental cost was a concern, prompting Bill France Jr. to issue a statement: “Eventually, we will have to follow Detroit’s trend. In order to curb expenses, the teams will be permitted to use equipment they already have instead of letting new equipment become obsolete in a short time.” The changes Bill hinted at were finally scribed into the 1981 rule book, with one exception: the outgoing cars would be permitted to race at the season opener at Riverside International Raceway (in Riverside, California) on January 11. Bobby Allison won at the helm of a 1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. New downsized cars were permitted to compete side-by-side, even though they were not fully mandated yet. Dale Earnhardt finished third in one such Grand Prix, owned by Rod Osterlund.

10 of the greatest NASCAR homologation specials – Scott Oldham @Hemmings


When NASCAR was formed in 1948, the first season was filled with races featuring older, modified coupes from the prewar era. But when “Big” Bill France envisioned a stock car series, he wanted the cars on his racetracks to be real, stock cars. The rules were fairly simple for the first “strictly stock” season of ’49, stating that both the car and engine had to be available to the public. Racers, as they do, pushed the boundaries of the rulebook, eventually leading to homologation rules that stated manufacturers must sell a certain number of a car or engine to make it legal for competition. The number fluctuated over the course of the rule’s lifetime, larger or smaller when convenient to encourage competition (and manufacturer dollars) and sometimes determined through a formula, but 500 units was a rough average.

 The fastest street cars made the fastest race cars, and machines like the 1949 Oldsmobile with Rocket V-8 power and the low-slung, aerodynamic Hudson Hornets of the early 1950s dominated. But there was clearly a cat-and-mouse game between NASCAR and manufacturers, both in an effort to control speeds and level the playing field. During 1957, NASCAR outlawed the use of “exotic and multi-carburetor induction systems,” which effectively outlawed the famed “Black Widow” Chevy, and the E-code and F-code Ford engines, for example. By the 1960s, as the street performance game was really heating up, wins on the NASCAR circuit meant sales in the showrooms, so many manufacturers were really pushing the rules, and France wasn’t enforcing his homologation regulations as strictly as he once was. In 1962, Pontiac’s championship-winning Super Duty 421 Catalina, for instance, wasn’t exactly homologated. Nor was Chevy’s “Mystery Motor” or Chrysler’s 426 Hemi, which dominated the 1964 season. These engines weren’t available at any dealership

.After the Hemi blew everyone’s doors off, and following the deaths of three superstars, Bill France laid down the law once again. Starting in 1965, NASCAR implemented rules dictating that all engines conform to a maximum displacement and be of a production design only, and only a single, four-barrel carburetor was allowed. There were several more details and updates to the rules and it all meant the free-for-all was over. To get extra speed on the track automakers quickly began creating homologation specials – street cars with sleeker aerodynamic bodies and more powerful engines to increase their performance. Here, we’ve chosen our 10 favorites and listed them in chronological order.

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WATCH THIS: when NASCAR was awesome – Dan Stoner @Hemmings


If you get our weekly Hemmings Muscle Machines newsletter, you’d see that we’re currently geeking on a certain 1940 Ford coupe hot rod, built and owned by one David Pearson. Yes, that David Pearson – the legendary stock car driver. Not only did Pearson drive one of our favorite race cars, but he drove during our favorite period of NASCAR: the late Sixties.

So, it’s fair to say that we want that ’40 coupe, but we also want to now build a fastback Torino cut to look like David Pearson’s famous Holman Moody #17 car. Ugh. Too many ideas, not enough cash on hand. But look, what kind of car nuts would we be if we didn’t have a fairly insane wishlist of cars we need to build? Tell you this much, though: we’d build a Pearson car and drive it every day for a year. Welded-up doors, cage and all. Sure, turn signals and head/taillights, but also shorty headers and even shorter pipes. The fun part would be figuring out how to run it as a commuter car without getting pulled over every 3.5 miles and kicked out of the neighborhood for firing it up before 8 a.m. every weekday.

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Seeing really is believing – a Tucker did indeed race in NASCAR, and we found the photo to prove it – Jim Donnelly @Hemmings


Joe Merola of Braddock, PA entered the Tucker in the 1951 Memorial Day race
One of the things you learn very quickly here is that there’s never any telling what the Hemmings Nation can uncover, especially on this blog. In that spirit, we present this photo, furnished by Ron Pollock of Niles, Ohio. If the name’s familiar, that’s because we recently posted a photo from Ron’s sold-out 50-year history of Sharon Speedway in northeastern Ohio, which depicted a 1961 Chevrolet bubbletop turned into an uncommonly good-looking pavement Late Model.
Ron checked in again this week. The photo above depicts what may be the only Tucker Torpedo ever used in a racing event. He used the image in another book he authored, a history of Canfield Speedway, a half-mile dirt track that operated between 1946 and 1973 at the Mahoning County Fairgrounds, outside Youngstown. Ron was trying to respond to an earlier question on the Hemmings blog about whether a Tucker had ever been raced in NASCAR. The date on the photo suggests it ran at Canfield over Memorial Day in 1951.

1986-’87 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS Aero Coupe Buyer’s Guide – Matt Litwin @Hemmings


Do you think the stock car racingaero war ended in 1970? NASCAR rules may have dealt an evolutionary death blow to the winged Mopars, and nixed Ford’s King Cobras as the prototypes emerged, but it didn’t eliminate wind cheating designs. In the ensuing decades, Detroit learned that the challenges of meeting CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards and increasing racetrack speeds could be served by continuing to improve aerodynamics, often with pleasing visual results. We can think of a few post “aero wars” examples, like the 1975 Chevy Chevelle Laguna S-3. Its laid-back front fascia helped lower the coupe’s drag coefficient. Buick affixed a similar design to its mid-’70s Special and Century, and Olds didn’t hesitate to lay back the front end of its Cutlass 442, though its superspeedway prowess began in ’78. This was the subtle aero war, a trend that continued when NASCAR finally embraced Detroit’s downsized intermediates for 1981.

Buick’s Regal was an instant hit, taking 47 wins in 61 races through 1982. Ford’s nine wins during that span led to a completely redesigned, well-rounded Thunderbird, while Chevy’s embarrassing four wins (one by a Malibu, another by a four-year-old Monte Carlo) led to the reintroduction of the Monte Carlo SS, which included a sleek windswept nose with a flush-mounted integral grille. The new SS helped land Chevy a season high 14 wins in 1983, and another 21 a year later. But by 1985, Ford regained momentum and the two makes ended the season with 14 wins each.

For 1986, Chevy brass tasked its engineers with creating an enhanced Monte Carlo SS that would further reduce drag at triple-digit track speeds.

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Ford Performance reveals NASCAR Xfinity Series Ford Mustang that will race in 2020, the fifth all-new motorsports Mustang in the past year The latest Mustang race car was developed as a joint effort between Ford Design and the Ford Performance Technical Center, where development tools and simulators are advancing both race and production vehicles for […]


Daytona Beach hotel where Bill France founded NASCAR put up for sale – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings


Somehow, despite the constant churn of Florida real estate, the decades-long dilapidation, and the drug-use problem that plagued the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach, Florida, the facility remains in pretty much the same configuration today as it did when it was built in 1941. That includes the Ebony Club, a rooftop bar where Bill France laid out his plans for NASCAR, which makes the hotel’s upcoming auction more than just another real-estate transaction.

Read the article here

Benny Parsons’ 1973 NASCAR Winston Cup championship car crosses the block in Florida – Kurt Ernst @Hemmings


It was consistency, not race wins, that carried Benny Parsons to the 1973 NASCAR Winston Cup Championship. The story of the season’s last race, where Parsons wrapped up his sole NASCAR Cup title, is the stuff of legend, and on January 12, 2019, the 1973 Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna that propelled him to victory will cross the auction stage as part of Mecum’s Kissimmee sale.

Read the rest of Kurt’s article her at Hemmings