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 fourth 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: HAWAII ON MY MIND
Most NASCAR fans know where the top three national series are at each and every week, and many of them are in the know on NASCAR’s different regional series sprinkled across North America … and even in Europe. However, very few people are aware that there was once a short-lived NASCAR series that was confined to only one state. There’s good reason it was confined to one state; it’s because that state was Hawaii. Yes, Hawaii – that small state made up of islands out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean – was once host to a NASCAR racing series between 1952 and 1954. If you’re good with your American history, you’ll realize this was even before Hawaii became an official state, which happened in 1959. Many of the drivers in the NASCAR Hawaiian Division were military personnel and competed in modified pre-war coupes at tracks located solely in Hawaii.
FACT #2: A MOST UNFORTUNATE SNOOZE
We all know traveling to and from race tracks every week is often very exhausting. That’s why it wasn’t surprising to learn that Herb Thomas and Tim Flock decided to take a nap in the infield of the Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds in Spartanburg, S.C., while in town for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on July 4, 1953. After all, they had just driven all the way from New York the night before after competing in a series event at Monroe County Fairgrounds, a race in which Thomas won and Flock finished fourth. However, their nap in the South Carolina track’s infield wasn’t without incident. While they were asleep, a Champion Spark Plug rep who was hanging banners at the track accidentally ran over the two drivers. Fortunately, Thomas was unhurt and went on to finish third in that day’s race; however, Flock wasn’t as lucky. The rep’s car actually parked on his head, but due to the rain-softened ground, Flock’s injuries weren’t as bad as they could have been. However, he did miss several races due to the incident.
FACT #3: WHEN CLICKING IT ISN’T ENOUGH
Unfortunately, wrecks happen quite often in NASCAR. It’s just part of the sport and the drivers are usually aware of the risks involved when they slip in behind the steering wheel of a race car. In the early days of NASCAR’s premier series, one of the best pieces of safety equipment to protect drivers in the event of an accident was the seat belt. (NASCAR’s made considerable advancement in the area of driver safety since the sport’s fledgling years.) Of course, these safety features sometime fail when put to the test. This was the case on October 9, 1955, at Memphis-Arkansas Speedway in LeHi, Ark. On Lap 65 of the 200-lap event, Tiny Lund flipped his Chevrolet, throwing him from the race car. His seat belt had broken during the wreck. Fortunately he survived, but in a bit of an ironic twist his car’s sponsor that day was Rupert Seat Belt.