Racing rarities from the pioneering days of racing

A few years ago, Old Cars Weekly published a story about a Tucker sedan that was raced one time only in a Pennsylvania stock car race. This was back when stock cars were actually stock automobiles driven to and, with luck, from the track.

In AAA competition at the Milwaukee Mile in Wisconsin on
Sept. 16, 1956, this mid-pack battle included the ’56 Packard
Clipper sedan, #75, of Whitey Johnson who finished the race in
18th place. Also shown are Les Snow, #2, ’56 Chevy, and Jimmy
Reece , #28, ’56 Ford Fairlane.

Being a fan of those pioneering days of stock car racing, that story got me thinking about other cars equally unique as that Tucker that may have seen competition in stock car bullrings around the country.With stock car racing’s crown jewel event, the Daytona 500, set to get the green flag on Feb. 15, the racers appearing on this page represent the rawer roots of stock car racing before it got all corporately funded and the cars became cookie-cutter in appearance.

With the recent announcement that NASCAR is moving toward a more “green initiative” in its racing agenda, I’d also like to see a move back to a more vintage approach to how current stock cars appear, such as these pictured, when the cars had character and individuality. Between “green” and vintage, my fantasy field to take the green flag for a future Daytona 500 would be comprised of electric Henney Kilowatts, propane-fueled Checker Marathons and Chrysler Turbine cars!

Studebakers dominated central Illinois short track racing in the
early 1960s. Here, Bill Van Allen, #6, steers his Lark around
Santa Fe Speedway in Willow Springs at the Waukegan Speedway.

Photos from the Phil Hall Collection and Ron Kowalke Collection

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