Every so often, we here at Splash ‘n Go like to give you, our readers, a little treat in the form of three interesting tidbits of NASCAR trivia and/or history in an article titled “Did You Know That?” This is the seventh edition.
Each article includes three interesting tidbits or stories about NASCAR that you may have not heard before. Hopefully, you will find them interesting and they will initiate conversation among your friends about other little-known facts regarding our favorite sport.
The three facts come from The Official NASCAR Trivia Book, which was written by John C. Farrell and was published by Fenn / McClelland & Stewart, a division of Random House of Canada. Farrell is the Marketing Manager for Lionel Racing.
FACT #1: NUMBERS WITH MEANING
You might have a certain affinity toward the No. 3 car, the No. 24 or perhaps the No. 18 car, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Sponsors, however, are sometimes drawn to specific car numbers for reasons that we as fans may not realize. It might have to do with marketing or a simple play on words or they might even work into the name of the car’s sponsor. Here are a few examples. In 1966, Buddy Baker piloted the No. 00 car sponsored by Tenneessee gubernatorial candidate John Jay Hooker. The “00” on the side of the race car doubled as the “oo” in “Hooker.” The Domino’s pizza chain sponsored David Reutimann’s No. 00 Toyota for seven race during the 2007 season. The “00” represented the two pizzas a customer could get with their buy one get one free promotion. During the 1956 season, Bobby Johns drove the No. 7A Chevrolet in eight races. The “A” stood for his sister, “Angeline.” Jimmy Spencer drove the No. 57 Heinz car in 1990. Heinz sponsored the car in order to advertise their product, Heinz 57. One of the two cars Red Bull sponsored during the 2011 season and before was the No. 83. The “83” was partially selected because a can of the energy drink holds 8.3 ounces. Other strategic marketing and car number pairings include Aaron’s sponsor the No. 99 car in the NASCAR XFINITY Series because of their $99 rentals, UNO (the popular card game, but also the Spanish word for “one”) sponsoring the No. 1 car and Jack Daniel’s promoting their No. 7 brand by sponsoring the No. 07 car.
FACT #2: DIFFICULT STEERING
For everyone who gripes when their car’s power steering goes out, Ted Chamberlain has you beat. Although his car most likely didn’t have power steering to begin with during the May 18, 1952, race at Daytona (Ohio) Speedway, because … well, it was 1952 and power steering was still a relatively new option in cars, he had a more difficult time steering his race car to the finish of the 200-lap event. Why? Well, with about 120 laps remaining in the race, the steering wheel of his race car came off. So, he was left piloting the No. 93 Plymouth with nothing but a steering hub. Just think how hard it would have been to steer the car. He ended up finishing the race 13th (out of 15) and was 36 laps behind the winner, Dick Rathmann.
FACT #3: DARN THOSE HOT DOG DRIVERS
Most drivers love earning the pole position for the start of a race. It’s an advantage that most drivers don’t look upon lightly. However, there is one driver who wasn’t necessarily fond of receiving the premier spot for a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. That driver was Herman “The Turtle” Beam. He wasn’t appreciative of the fact that he was given the pole for the April 1, 1962, race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway after qualifying was cancelled due to inclement weather. After the race, he mentioned that he was uncomfortable starting in front of all the “hot dogs,” which makes sense when you consider what he did. As the race cars circled the track during the pace laps, he pulled onto pit road to let all the cars pass by. He gave up the prime spot and went on to finish the race 12th (of 25), 44 laps back in his self-owned No. 19 Ford.