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Could you ever imagine driving a convertible in NASCAR competition? 2016 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Curtis Turner did – and he holds the record for most wins in the now-defunct series. Turner and fellow 2016 inductees Jerry Cook, O. Bruton Smith, Terry Labonte and Bobby Isaac will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. Here are the Fast Facts on this versatile and colorful driver.
- Curtis Turner was born April 12, 1924 in Floyd, VA. His racing career began in 1946, and in 1949 he made his NASCAR debut in the Strictly Stock division in 1949, winning later that season at Langhorne (PA) Speedway – his first of 17 premier series victories.
- Turner’s racing accomplishments were many, including being the only driver to win two straight Grand National (now Sprint Cup) Series from the pole and leading every lap (July 1950). In the Convertible Division, he holds the record for most career wins (38), most career poles (23), most wins in a season (22 – 1956) and most poles in a season (16 – 1956).
- Turner drove for numerous legendary NASCAR car owners, including the Wood Brothers, Junior Johnson, Holman-Moody and Smokey Yunick. In 1967, Turner became the first driver to qualify for a Grand National race at more than 180 mph driving one of Yunick’s Chevrolets.
- In 1961, Turner, Fireball Roberts and Tim Flock attempted to organize a union for the drivers. NASCAR looked unfavorably on the idea, and Turner was banned for life, only to have the ban lifted in 1965.
- Turner competed in the premier division for 17 years (1949-1961 and 1965-1968), winning 17 times and earning 73 top 10 finishes in 184 races; he also raced to 16 poles.
- Turner died in an airplane crash on Oct. 4, 1970 in Punxsutawney, PA; Turner was piloting the plane, which crashed shortly after take-off en route to Roanoke, VA.
- In 1999, Turner was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, followed by his 2006 induction in to the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
- Learn more about the NASCAR Hall of Fame at www.nascarhall.com.