Buz’s Howliday Treat! A little NASCAR Halloween History…
With the spookiest day of the year coming upon us, I thought it would be fun to see how the date of October 31 fits in with NASCAR history.
In the 62 years since the premier series of NASCAR was established, only five Cup Series races have been held on Halloween. The first occurred in 1965 with the opening of the North Carolina Motor Speedway, better known as Rockingham. The grizzled old pro, Curtis Turner, fresh off a four year exile by NASCAR, won the “American 500” driving a Wood Brothers Ford. He beat youngster, Cale Yarborough by 11 seconds for Turner’s final NASCAR victory.
In 1982, Rockingham was also the scene of the next Halloween NASCAR event. Darrell Waltrip, who was locked in a tight point battle with Bobby Allison, won the ”Warner W. Hodgson American 500”, beating out Allison, who finished second, some 9.5 seconds behind D.W. This win helped Waltrip capture his second NASCAR championship just a few weeks later.
Fast forward 11 years to Phoenix for the next “spooky” NASCAR event. Mark Martin led the most laps of the 1993 “Slick 50 500” to take his 12th career Cup win in a near-photo finish of just 0.17 seconds over Ernie Irvan.
Another 11 years would pass as Jimmie Johnson got his bag full of goodies by capturing the “Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500” on October 31, 2004 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Mark Martin was trying to make it two Halloween victories as he nipped at Johnson’s heels, finishing a mere .293 seconds for the runner-up spot.
The ghosts and ghouls were thoroughly entertained last year at Talladega when Clint Bowyer won the 2010 “Amp Energy Juice 500” leading the field to the checkered flag after a record-setting 87 lead changes.
After considerable investigation, it was determined that no current NASCAR driver was born on Halloween, or at least none of them admitted it if they were.