Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fast Facts: 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Jack Ingram

credit: NASCAR Media
NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Jack Ingram, unlike many other drivers who have been inducted into the Hall, made his name in NASCAR’s Busch Grand National division – what is today known as the Nationwide Series. Learn more about the driver known as the “Iron Man,” who joins the Hall of Fame along with Tim Flock, Dale Jarrett, Maurice Petty and Fireball Roberts, in this Hall of Fame edition of Fast Facts.
  • Jack Ingram was born Dec. 28, 1936 in Asheville, North Carolina. In his early days in NASCAR, he competed in 10 races in what is now the Sprint Cup Series from 1965-1968, before making the move to NASCAR’s Late Model Sportsman division; Ingram won three consecutive Sportsman titles (1972-1974).
  • What set Ingram apart from many of his competitors was his age and longevity – after his Sportsman titles, he returned to the Cup Series for nine more starts in 1979 (four) and 1981 (five) – at the time, in his early 40s. In 1982, at age 45, Ingram captured the inaugural Busch Series title, winning seven races and finishing in the top 10 24 times in 29 races. He repeated as champion in 1985, with five wins and 22 top 10 finishes in 27 races.
  • From 1982-1987, Ingram tallied 31 wins – upon his retirement in 1991 at age 54, he held the record for most Busch Series wins; he is currently fifth on the all-time wins list for the series. He placed in the top 10 in points in all eight of his full-time seasons in the Busch Series.
  • Ingram was named the Most Popular Driver in the Busch Series in 1982.
  • In 2007, Ingram was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
  • Learn more about the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the inductees at www.nascarhall.com

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Fast Facts: 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Tim Flock

credit: NASCAR Media
2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Tim Flock was just one member of a family full of drivers, including his brothers Bob and Fonty and his sister, Ethel Mobley, who was the second female driver in NASCAR history. Learn more about this NASCAR pioneer, who joins the Hall of Fame along with Jack Ingram, Dale Jarrett, Maurice Petty and Fireball Roberts, in this Hall of Fame edition of Fast Facts.
  • Julius Timothy Flock was born May 11, 1924 in Fort Payne, Alabama. The Flock family made a strong impression early on in NASCAR’s history, with all three brothers finishing in the top 10 in points in NASCAR’s inaugural season in 1949 – Bob in third, Fonty in fifth and Tim in eighth. Tim Flock sat out part of the 1950 season after a wreck at Charlotte, but returned in 1951 to win seven races and finish third in points.
  • Flock earned his first NASCAR title in 1952, winning eight of the 33 races he ran that year and earning 25 top 10 finishes. He followed that up with a second title in 1955, winning 18 of the 39 races he ran in, along with 33 top 10 finishes and 18 poles.
  • Flock’s career was relatively short – just 13 seasons (1949-1961) – and the closest he came to running a complete season was in 1952, when he raced in 33 of the 34 scheduled races; in seven of his 13 seasons, he raced in seven or fewer races. He was, however, dominant in the races he competed in: 39 wins (20.9-percent – second-highest winning percentage in NASCAR history) and 129 top 10 finishes (69-percent) in 187 races.
  • Flock had an unusual co-driver for a couple of races – his Rhesus monkey “Jocko Flocko.”  “Jocko” was co-driver for Flock’s win at Hickory Motor Speedway on May 16, 1953, but retired two weeks later at Raleigh when he was hit by a pebble.
  • Flock died on March 31, 1998 of liver and throat cancer. One month prior to his death, he was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers. He has also been inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame (1991), the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America (1999) and the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame (1972) among others.
  • Learn more about the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the inductees at www.nascarhall.com

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Checkered Past: Ken Schrader Starts the “Triple” List

Ken Schrader won the pole for the inaugural
Mudsummer Classic at Eldora in July 2013
credit: Getty Images/Tom Pennington
Veteran driver Ken Schrader may have left NASCAR competition behind after the 2013 season, but he's accomplished a great deal. While his win total is not as prolific as many – four wins in the Cup Series, two in Nationwide and one in the Camping World Truck Series – it's the fact he won in all three series, and was the first driver to do so, that makes those numbers special.

Schrader won his four Cup Series races in a four-year span from 1988 to 1991 while driving the No. 25 for Hendrick Motorsports. His first win came in 1988 at Talladega, which he followed up in 1989 with a victory at Charlotte. In 1991 he won at Atlanta and Dover. Another impressive statistic from that era of Schrader’s career: three straight Daytona 500 poles from 1988 to 1990. Schrader’s Nationwide Series victories came five seasons apart: at Dover in 1989 and Talladega in 1994.

Because of his wins in the top two tiers of NASCAR, when the Truck Series made its debut in 1995, he become a “triple threat” – a winner in all three top NASCAR series. Early in 1995, on April 15, Schrader raced at Saugus Speedway in California in the track’s only Truck Series race and took the checkered flag, becoming the first triple winner on a list that now includes 23 drivers, the most recent of which is Denny Hamlin.

The Truck Series also helped Schrader earn one more record before he left NASCAR for more dirt track racing and ARCA opportunities. At the inaugural Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway in July 2013, Schrader won the pole with a track record speed of 91.329 mph and became the oldest pole winner in NASCAR history at age 58.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Faith on the Frontstretch: The Greatest Gift

Skirts and Scuffs photographer Charlotte Bray with her favorite gift, Smokie.
Credit: Tim Bray
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”    ~ Hebrews 12:1b

Think about the best gift you’ve ever received. Was it a Christmas present? Race tickets for your birthday? A hat autographed by your favorite driver? Oftentimes, a gift feels special because it’s something so perfect for you that you feel known and loved by the giver.

The ladies of Skirts and Scuffs shared some meaningful gifts they’ve received in the past.

As a teenager, Lacy Keyser wanted a pair of faux fur boots but never dreamed she would get them. On Christmas morning, she opened a box from her grandmother, and the boots were tucked inside. “My grandma still talks about the expression on my face,” she said.

Photographer Charlotte Bray said her best-ever gift was her beloved dog, a stray given to her right after she lost her former job. A friend brought her the pup just when she needed a lift. “It was such a difficult time,” she said, “... and that little guy saved me.”

When writer Lisa Janine Cloud was a little girl, her daddy gave her an AM radio kit for her birthday then added the priceless gift of his time when he helped her assemble it. “I loved that radio and listened to it for years,” she said.

Sometimes gifts are special people in our lives. Writer Stephanie Stuart said knowing her friend’s five-year-old twins is a precious gift. “From milestones to small moments like whispers of ‘I love you,’ and giggles in the corner, they have taught me what unconditional love is all about and what the gift of life truly means,” she said.

Whether it’s a material thing, a pet or a person, the perfect gift can be a blessing that changes our lives for the better.

My greatest gift? When I was nine years old, I asked Jesus into my heart. Through Him, I receive unconditional love, forgiveness and the promise of heaven. Amazing, life-altering gifts, aren't they? The best part is they’re available to you, too.

The racing off-season brings the Christmas in-season, which is all about gifts. God sent Jesus to earth as a gift to us. The wise men traveled to see baby Jesus and brought Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Now, we exchange gifts with family and friends.

The care we put into choosing gifts is a beautiful expression of our love for one another. Giving helps us focus on the real reason for the season: Peace. Joy. Celebrating the birth of Christ.

Christmas is a beautiful reminder that God is the Source of everything good in our lives. As you give gifts to others and delight in those you receive, may you be blessed by both.

Merry Christmas!

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.     ~ James 1:17 (NIV)

“Faith on the Frontstretch” appears every 1st & 3rd Wednesday and explores the role of faith in motorsports. Comments or twitter follows welcome: @bbreinke. See you on the Frontstretch!

Want more racing devotions? When you donate $25 to Skirts and Scuffs, we’ll send you a complimentary copy of Beth’s book, Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a month-long, pocket-sized devotional book for female racing fans.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bobby Labonte to drive in 2014 Daytona 500 for Phoenix Racing

Bobby Labonte Returns to Phoenix Racing for Daytona 500 
Former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion to race for team at select races 

(December 17, 2013) - Phoenix Racing formally announced today that Bobby Labonte will drive a second car for the team in the Daytona 500 on February 23, 2014 at Daytona International Speedway. The move reunites Phoenix Racing chairman emeritus, James Finch, with the 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Bobby Labonte. Labonte drove for Phoenix Racing for 13 races in the No. 09 in 2010 and for one race at Michigan International Speedway in 2013 in the No. 51.

Harry Scott, Jr., who purchased the team from Finch in 2013, said, "James continues to be a valuable part of our team and when he came up with the idea of running Bobby in a second car, I jumped at the opportunity to bring him back into the fold. Bobby is a veteran driver that can also provide valuable insight and leadership for Phoenix Racing."

"I'm thrilled to be headed back to Daytona with Bobby Labonte," said Finch. "I thank Harry Scott for this opportunity. He knew I would have to be weaned off racing, I can't quit cold turkey."

"I am grateful and excited to return to Daytona with Phoenix Racing," said Labonte. "The Daytona 500 is obviously a special event for everyone involved in the sport. I can't wait to get back in the car for my 22nd Daytona 500."

Labonte, who will run a number of races for Phoenix Racing has won 21 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in his career that started in 1991. During that time Labonte scored 115 Top 5s and 203 Top 10s. In 1990 Labonte was named the NASCAR Nationwide Series Most Popular Driver. He captured the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship a year later in 1991.

The team will provide additional information in the coming weeks about which car number will be entered, the crew chief for the team and sponsors supporting the car.

About Phoenix Racing
Phoenix Racing, which was established in 1989, is owned and operated by Harry Scott, Jr. and competes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Scott purchased the team from long-time owner James Finch in September 2013. His vision is to build a championship contender in due time by developing talented young drivers, partnering with dedicated sponsors and competing hard every week.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Checkered Past: Dec. 14, 1947 – Foundation Blocks Laid for NASCAR

Bill France Sr. in his office
Credit: France Family archives/NASCAR Media
In January 1947, after having competed and promoted a few auto races in the Daytona Beach, Florida area, William France Sr. decided it was time to develop a series for racers, which he named the “National Championship Stock Car Series.” France approached the American Automobile Association in hopes of gaining financial backing for the venture, but the group declined.

France was not deterred, however, and announced that the winner of the 1947 season – beginning in Daytona in January and ending in December at Jacksonville – would receive a check for $1,000 and a trophy. Almost 40 events were run that season, with Fonty Flock declared the champion after winning seven events. France was true to his word, and delivered a check and a trophy to Flock, as well as $3,000 in prize money for other drivers who competed.

France also announced a series of meetings following the 1947 season that would directly lead to the formation of NASCAR. The first of four meetings was held Dec. 14, 1947 at 1 p.m. in the Streamline Hotel in Florida, with France hosting 35 representatives of the National Championship Stock Car Circuit (NCSCC) and outlining his idea for an organized group of drivers. The original name chosen was the National Stock Car Racing Association, but someone pointed out that the name was already being used by another organization. Mechanic Red Vogt proposed the name National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, which became NASCAR.
On Feb. 21, 1948, NASCAR was officially founded by France, with its original divisions being Modifieds, Roadsters and Strictly Stock. Roadsters were quickly abandoned as a division and Strictly Stock was put on hold until 1949. The Modified division ran 52 races in 1948, with Red Byron being named the first NASCAR champ.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

2013 Sprint Cup Banquet: Best and Worst

Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson and his wife Chandra hold another trophy - daughter Lydia Norriss -
before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Banquet at Wynn Las Vegas on Friday in Las Vegas, Nev.
What happens in Las Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas. Nor should it!

Sin City has hosted the NASCAR Sprint Cup banquet the last few years. The sport’s best and brightest came together Friday to honor six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson at the awards ceremony at the Wynn in Las Vegas. The annual event is a favorite among fans.

Four of our editors at Skirts and Scuffs - site creator Katy Lindamood, me (Lead Editor Rebecca Kivak) and Associate Editors L.J. Cloud and Beth Reinke - watched the banquet at our respective homes so we could critique the best and worst moments from this year’s ceremony.

We’re glad we did. For an event that’s known to be uneven, this year’s banquet was the strongest yet. The well-paced event featured good speeches, good comedy and good entertainment.

“All in all I felt like this banquet was the best we've seen,” Katy said.

Without further adieu, here’s our Best and Worst of the night’s speeches, performances, skits, jokes and of course, the fashion.

Best speech: Jimmie Johnson

The six-time champion paid tribute to Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Jr., the only other two Sprint Cup drivers to claim six titles, and ended with a quote from the recently deceased Nelson Mandela. The emotion that's evident when Johnson talks about “his girls” - his wife Chandra and their two daughters, Evie and Lydia - touched the Skirts and Scuffs editors.

“When I see the expressions of true love between Jimmie and Chandra or Kyle and Samantha (Busch), it makes me choke up,” Beth said. “They are blessed in many ways.”

Worst speech: Greg Biffle

The Biff not only looked uncomfortable onstage, but his comments toward Johnson about their on-track run-in came off as awkward and disrespectful.

“Maybe the teleprompter was moving too much, but it looked like he was shuffling back and fourth on his feet and wanted to run from the stage,” Katy said.

Runners-up: A very uncomfortable looking Robin Pemberton, and the awkward Brian France.

Host Jay Mohr tries to start a new fashion
trend. Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Most heartfelt speech: Kurt Busch

After the most embattled years of his career, Kurt Busch brought Furniture Row Racing their first Chase berth. Busch seemed very genuine in his remarks when he thanked company and race team owner Barney Visser for giving him a chance, and his girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, for helping him become a better man.

“Kurt was humble and articulate. Kurt seemed to be the most comfortable in front of the microphone,” Katy said.

Most entertaining speech: Kyle Busch

The younger Busch brother was in a great mood at Friday’s banquet, joking how he "made it past dinner" to give his speech due to his fourth-place finish in the Chase standings, a career best. Busch also thanked the woman many believe is responsible for his personal growth and maturity: his wife, Samantha.

“I loved Kyle Busch's ‘She's always there to pick me up. I love you, baby!’ in thanking Samantha,” Beth said. “Aw!”

Classiest moments: Military tribute; Betty Jane France award recipient Don Post; Jeff Gordon mentioning those in the NASCAR industry who passed away this year, including Jason Leffler, Dick Trickle and Marcy Scott; Johnson's Nelson Mandela quote.

Best skit: Drivers' tryouts for banquet hosting duties

Kurt Busch and bubbles - need we say more? Kasey Kahne’s line of "Just looking good, man. Just looking good" played on his popularity with the female fan base.

Best Jay Mohr moment: Adding Jeff Gordon to everything jokes

After a seven-year hosting absence, Jay Mohr came back much improved. Though some of his jokes bombed, Mohr returned overall funnier than the last time, as well as more knowledgeable and respectable about the sport. His "adding Jeff Gordon to everything jokes" - the BCS title game, the Oscars' "Best Picture" category and a 13th month, "Jeff Gordonary" - had us in stitches.

Worst Jay Mohr moment: Calling Matt Kenseth "Mark Martin," mispronouncing Brad Keselowski’s last name as “Kowzlowski.”

The miscues didn’t go over well with NASCAR fans on Twitter. But LJ said that Mohr has terrible stage fright, which could explain the lapses.

Mohr’s Danica jokes: In good or bad taste?

Ricky Stenhouse and Danica Patrick smile -
but not at Jay Mohr's jokes.
Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Mohr incurred the wrath of Danica Patrick’s fan base on Twitter for his jokes about her sub-par performance on the track during her first full season in Sprint Cup. But Patrick also received flak for not laughing or smiling during Mohr’s pointed jokes. Patrick’s boyfriend, Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year Ricky Stenhouse, was clearly not amused during the ribbing.

The editors of Skirts and Scuffs were divided over the issue.

Though Mohr has the right as a comedian to pick on drivers’ vulnerabilities - and yes, Danica’s on-track performance was lacking this season - I thought his jokes toward Danica came off as mean-spirited. I cringed during Mohr’s jokes, and I wasn’t surprised by Danica or Stenhouse’s icy stares.

LJ pointed out that all the other drivers Mohr picked on took the ribbing in stride. She rehashed the following jokes Mohr made about the sport’s top drivers: Mohr said Gordon “quit” after winning four titles; called Clint Bowyer a “bad actor” after asking him about his poison oak; said Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s GPS couldn’t find victory lane; mentioned the Phoenix pit stop that cost Kenseth the championship; and said Michael Waltrip's nickname was "Darrell Waltrip's brother."

“Those were all sore points, but that's the kind of humor Mohr does,” LJ said. “In my opinion, if Danica can't take what everyone else was taking with equanimity, then she's in the wrong business.”

Beth wasn’t amused by Mohr’s comments, and saw the situation differently.

“When her Sprint Cup performance has been sub-par (and other than Daytona, it has) to me it seems almost like bullying to make jokes about it,” Beth said. “I think she's really trying on the track and it's probably hurtful to have jokes made about her lack of success. If she had a couple of decent years first, then they made jokes about a bad year, that would be OK. Pretty much everybody else who was ‘roasted’ already is an on-track success, so it's probably easier for them to take the ribbing.”

Katy noted, “Ricky looked more annoyed than Danica anytime she was mentioned.”

Best sport: Jeff Gordon on being added as the 13th driver in the Chase.

Katy had an interesting observation: “Gordon laughed at Mohr's jokes but Logano was the funniest to watch because he seemed to get a ‘belly laugh’ everytime Gordon was roasted.”

Runners-up: Dale Earnhardt Jr. about lack of wins, Kevin Harvick about asking Gene Haas if he has any grandsons.

Lines of the night

It was too difficult to pick just one line from Friday’s banquet, so our editors compiled the lines we liked the most:

“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. The power to unite people in a way little else does.” - Jimmie Johnson

"I have amazing fans ... and I think it's pretty safe to say Jay Mohr's not one of them." - Danica Patrick during her Sprint Fan Voice acceptance speech

"I have no idea what the hell you were thinking when you said yes, but we bought the ticket so we might as well take the ride." - Clint Bowyer to his fiancee Lorra Podsiadlo

"Just looking good, man. Just looking good." - Kasey Kahne in drivers' host tryouts bit

“It felt like an episode of 'Law and Order: NASCAR.'" - Kasey Kahne during the Erin Andrews bit

"We'll all chip in!" - Matt Kenseth suggesting Johnson should retire

Jimmie Johnson wonders how his Sprint Cup trophy
managed to grow overnight. Tom Pennington/Getty Images
“I knew we were gonna be great friends after he said I was ‘number one’ out the window at Dover at my first Nationwide start, my first practice. I mean I didn’t even get out of third gear and here comes the finger.” - Joey Logano referring to his teammate Brad Keselowski

“What does his pillow look like? Does he just go to Mattress Warehouse and say I'll take that?" - Jay Mohr on the size of Ryan Newman’s head

"I come home with hardware. Really?" - Danica Patrick on the Sprint Fan Voice award

“The 2013 season was good, solid and consistent for us, right up until that little spin for the worse  - and let me tell you something, it was bad, really bad!” - Clint Bowyer referencing the Richmond spin

“By the way, you saw Jay Mohr’s Twitter handle, @JayMohr37? That was his dad's car number, on his dad’s racecar. So he’s invested.” – Mike Joy

Best performance: Pia Toscano singing “Threaten Me with Heaven”

All of the banquet’s acts appealed to the NASCAR fan base. John Mellencamp and Dierks Bentley did a terrific job. Sara Bareilles' performance of "Brave" ended the night on a high note. But Toscano’s performance captured our hearts.

“Toscano's song during the tribute to NASCAR folks we've lost this year was touching and beautiful,” Beth said. The former “American Idol” contestant’s vocals were a perfect match for the song.

Worst performance: None. Thank goodness NASCAR learned after last year not to bring back Cirque du Soleil.

Best presenter: Michael Rooker, who played Rowdy Burns in "Days of Thunder," introducing "Rowdy" Kyle Busch.

Best date: Little Evie Johnson, who accompanied her father's crew chief Chad Knaus. Sheer cuteness!


We’ve covered the ceremony, so let’s get down to the fashion.

Best dressed female, non-broadcast: Danica Patrick. Her classic black dress was simple and understated. Beth liked her “cool, strappy-up-the-ankles shoes.” Katy said, “She went the simple route and it worked well.”

Best dressed female, broadcast: Danielle Trotta, who looked glamorous in a black gown with cutouts.

Kurt Busch: "You're not the only one looking
good, Kasey." Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Worst dressed female: There was no clear-cut choice here as a few gowns had us raising our eyebrows:
  • Chandra Johnson: We love Chandra’s classic beauty, but the editors were split on her black and white print dress. While LJ liked it, I thought it was too busy. Katy admitted, “I just didn't know where to look.”
  •  Patricia Driscoll: I was mixed on Patricia’s blue dress with a big, bold gold design. Katy liked the color, but when Patricia stood next to Kurt Busch’s striped suitcoat, she thought the dress was “too much.”
  • Linda Hendrick: “Her dress looked like drapes from a funeral home,” LJ said.
  • Kaitlyn Vincie: We love Kaitlyn, but her rhinestone-studded dress “looked like the drivers' daughters got loose with a Bedazzler,” as LJ put it.
  • Ingrid Vandebosch: The model’s black dress covered in silver studs “made her look like she was wearing a costume from Tron: Victoria's Secret,” LJ said.
  • Alyssa Milano: Katy thought the presenter’s red, ruffly dress was the night’s biggest offender. “The red was just too bright for my taste and the ruffles were too much for her small frame,” Katy commented.
Best dressed male: Kurt Busch, hands down. All four Skirts and Scuffs editors liked Busch’s blue-and-black striped suitcoat. “Kurt's suit was quirky so he gets my vote,” Katy said.

Runner-up: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. “Stenhouse Jr.'s black-on-black looked really sharp,” LJ said.

Worst dressed male: Matt Kenseth looked, as LJ put it, “rumpled.” “You'd think he could afford a suit that fits,” LJ said.

What was your best and worst from the 2013 banquet? Let us know in the comments below.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Checkered Past: Dec. 1, 1963 – Wendell Scott Breaks the Barrier

Mural of Wendell Scott
Photo credit: NASCAR via Getty Images/Rainier Ehrhardt
In October at Martinsville Speedway, Darrell Wallace Jr. became just the second African-American driver to win in NASCAR’s top-tier series and the first in nearly 50 years. Wallace Jr.’s historic Camping World Truck Series victory for Kyle Busch Motorsports put him in the spotlight as the second Drive for Diversity graduate to win in 2013, following in the footsteps of fellow D4D grad Kyle Larson. Before Wallace Jr., Larson and other minority drivers visited the fast tracks of NASCAR, however, Wendell Scott blazed a trail of his own, helping them make their dreams a reality.

Wendell Oliver Scott was born Aug. 29, 1921. Due to the segregation of the era, Scott would not get a chance to race until he was in his 30s, spending his early years in the blacks-only section of the bleachers in his hometown of Danville, Virginia, watching “the good ol’ boys” compete. He competed for the first time in 1952, driving on the Dixie Circuit, then a regional NASCAR competitor.

After competing in his first Dixie Circuit race, he took his car to a NASCAR-sanctioned race at Winston-Salem, but NASCAR officials refused to let him race – black drivers weren’t allowed. After this happened a second time, Scott decided to avoid NASCAR and stick with the Dixie Circuit for the time being, where he was rewarded with his first victory – an amateur class heat race – just 12 days into his career.

In 1953, Scott still had NASCAR aspirations, and packed up his car to visit the 0.25-mile dirt oval at Richmond Speedway for a NASCAR-sanctioned race. He was granted a NASCAR license by track steward Mike Poston, who later took heat for granting the license to Scott.

Scott spent nine years in NASCAR’s regional levels, winning races, fans and two championships in spite of the prejudice he still faced. In 1961, he moved into the Grand National Division (now Sprint Cup Series), and on Dec. 1, 1963, Scott took home the checkered flag from Speedway Park in Florida, becoming the first, and thus far only, African-American driver to win in NASCAR’s highest series.

In 13 years (1961 to 1973) in the Cup Series, Scott amassed 147 top-10 finishes. He passed on Dec. 23, 1990 from spinal cancer.

Learn more about Scott at his induction page for the International Motorsports Hall of Fame (inducted 1999).

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Faith on the Frontstretch: Resting and Refueling in the Off-Season

‘Twas the month before Christmas and all through the track, not an engine was stirring, nor a lugnut or jack.
The fire suits were hung in the haulers with care, as pit crews went home, time with family to share.

Photo credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs   

“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b

Two Sundays have come and gone without a stock car engine stirring in NASCAR’s highest series. Tracks like Texas Motor Speedway, pictured above, are mostly quiet this time of year. Some eager fans are already counting down the days until the 2014 Daytona 500. Others commiserate on Twitter, lamenting the race-free weekends ahead.

But nine months is a long time for the travelling NASCAR personnel to live on the road. It’s a lengthy list of Sundays for fans to watch from their living rooms, too. The truth is, taking a break from our favorite sport is a healthy thing - physically, mentally and even spiritually.

Before anyone throws rubber marbles in protest or declares that all true fans should hate the off-season, consider this. The off-season provides a war wagon full of tools racing folks and fans can use to power down. We can use the next few months to:

Rest. After months of intense physical and mental strain, racing people desperately need a respite. The familiarity of home brings comfort and relief from everyday work-related burdens. They can sleep in their own beds for weeks without having to pack, unpack or use a port-a-potty.

Rekindle. Time at home allows the rekindling of family relationships in a more normal setting. Other than drivers whose families live in the motorhomes with them, many racing folks are away from loved ones for about half of the week. The off-season allows them to renew and revitalize day-to-day connections with relatives, friends and neighbors. Is there anyone you need to reconnect with?

Refuel. Time off from the race circuit provides time for other hobbies and activities. Engaging in favorite pastimes is a way for the weary to refuel their spirits. Spending time with God and doing things we love is a great way for us to renew our souls, too.

Photo credit: Lisa Janine Cloud for Skirts and Scuffs
Regroup. For race teams and media folks, the off-season can be a time of reflection and reorganization. Sometimes taking a step back helps put things in perspective and we see where changes are needed.

Rekindle. Refuel. Regroup. The prefix “re-” means to do something again or even “again and again.” Just as our bodies need sleep every 24 hours, we need bigger chunks of rest periodically as well – maybe one day or a week’s vacation or the whole off-season.

A traditional day of rest, called the Sabbath, is an idea God programmed into the universe. In the beginning, after working on creation for six days, He rested on the seventh day. God doesn’t need to rest, but He knew we humans require it, so He set an example for us. It’s almost like He was saying, “Take a day off each week to refuel your tank, and don’t feel guilty about it.”

Taking a Sabbath rest is a gift from God that many of us never unwrap. Instead we push, push, push ourselves past the fuel window and end up sputtering along on fumes.

There’s a way to remedy the exhaustion and refuel our souls - spending quiet time with God. Talking with Him leaves us refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to face whatever lies ahead in the race of life.

During the off-season, each of us has a chunk of time on weekends that we’d normally spend watching a race or two. Each of those Sundays is a Sabbath day full of promise. How will you spend that extra time?

Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. ~ Genesis 2:3

“Faith on the Frontstretch” appears every 1st & 3rd Wednesday and explores the role of faith in motorsports. Comments or twitter follows welcome: @bbreinke. See you on the Frontstretch!

Want more racing devotions? When you donate $25 to Skirts and Scuffs, we’ll send you a complimentary copy of Beth’s book, Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a month-long, pocket-sized devotional book for female racing fans.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Fast Facts: 2013 Camping World Truck Series Champ Matt Crafton

credit: NASCAR via Getty Images/Chris Graythen
Camping World Truck Series veteran Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra for ThorSport Racing, was recently crowned the 2013 Truck Series champion, his first title in 13 full-time seasons on the circuit. Revisit the career of this California-born driver in this special Truck Series champion edition of Fast Facts.
  • Matthew Crafton was born June 11, 1976 in Tulare, California. He began racing go-karts at age 7, progressing to midgets by age 15 after winning regional and national championships. In 1996, he moved up to the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Series for the season’s final three races, subbing for his father, Danny, who was injured; the younger Crafton won the series’ title in 2000.
  • In 2000, Crafton also made his Truck Series debut in the season finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana with ThorSport, qualifying 17th and finishing ninth. After three full-time seasons with ThorSport, he joined Kevin Harvick Incorporated in 2004, but was released at the end of the season in spite of a fifth-place finish in points and 17 top 10s. He rejoined ThorSport in 2005.
  • Crafton earned his first Truck Series pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2005, followed by his first victory in 2008 at Charlotte. He earned his second career win in 2011 at Iowa Speedway, and his third at Kansas in 2013 on his way to the title.
  • In 2013, Crafton scored one win and 19 top 10 finishes in 22 Truck Series races on his way to the championship. He also made his Nationwide Series debut, racing three times for Richard Childress Racing in the No. 33 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet Camaro; he finished with three top 10 finishes, including two third-place finishes at the two races at Kentucky Speedway.
  • Find out more about Crafton at his website, www.mattcrafton.com