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MARCH 14th



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MARCH 14

1914
Lee Petty... Born ... Was an American stock car driver in the 1950s and 60s. He was one of the pioneers of NASCAR, and one of its first superstars. He is the father of Richard Petty, who would become NASCAR's all-time race winner. With sons Richard and Maurice, he founded Petty Enterprises, which became NASCAR's most successful racing team. He was the grandfather of Kyle Petty, and great grandfather of Adam Petty. In 1990, Lee Petty was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. He was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1996 and the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2011. He was elected to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.
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1937
Tommy Elmore drove a Ford V-8 Special to victory in a 100 mile Stock Car race on a 1 mile beach course at Ormond Beach, Florida. Elmore averaged 57.6 mph.
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1940
Bill Simpson ... Born ... A retired American racecar driver, but is best known as a pioneer in the racing safety business with his company Simpson Performance Products. In 2003, he was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in the "at large" category. Simpson started in drag racing and SCCA Formula racing, eventually moving up to the USAC Championship Car series. He raced in the 1968-1974 and 1976-1977 seasons, with 52 career starts. He qualified twentieth for the 1974 Indianapolis 500, and finished thirteenth. He finished in the top ten 11 times, with his best finish in 6th position in 1970 at Milwaukee. He decided to end his racing career in 1977, because he started to think about a telephone call that he needed to make while he was practicing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In 1958, the 18 year old Simpson broke both arms in a drag racing crash. Simpson later said, "Until then, I was like most drivers. The only time I thought about safety was after I'd been hurt. This time, I was hurt bad enough to do a lot of thinking." Simpson's uncle owned a military surplus store, and suggested that he use a cross-form parachute to slow down the drag car. Simpson rented a sewing machine to create a prototype. Simpson got together with his friend dragster driver Mike Sorokin to test the prototype. They tested it by attaching it to a tow hitch, and dumping it from the back of the Chevy wagon while Sorokin drove down a street at 100 mph. The chute was too big for car, and the car went airborne and crashed into a tree nursery. Both racers were jailed for the incident, but Simpson Drag Chutes was founded. The first person to inquire about and use his parachute was "Big Daddy" Don Garlits. He evolved his business into a number of other safety items, such as gloves, helmets, restraints and shoes. Simpson designed NASA's first umbilical cords, where he met Pete Conrad. Conrad introduced Simpson to DuPont product Nomex in 1967. Simpson used the product to create the first fire suit to be used in racing. He took the suit to the 1967 Indianapolis 500 where it was worn by 30 of 33 drivers. Simpson had developed over 200 racing safety products, including three generations of fire suits. Simpson demonstrated the suit's effectiveness in 1987, when he was set on fire while wearing a suit. Simpson Performance Products was involved in a great deal of controversy in the February 2001 death of Dale Earnhardt. There was a great deal of controversy regarding whether or not a seat belt manufactured by the company had malfunctioned. NASCAR's investigation into the crash in part blamed seat belt failure. Simpson received death threats and bullets into his house, which led to his resignation in July 2001. Simpson sued NASCAR for $8.5 million defamation of character suit. Simpson withdrew his lawsuit with an undisclosed settlement. Simpson now heads Impact! Racing, which began competing with his old firm after a one year no-competition clause. He has designed a new helmet, and a head and neck restraint system.
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1959
Len Duncan won the 100-lap indoor ATQMRA TQ Midget race at the Teaneck Armory, Teaneck, NJ. Roger Bailey finished second followed by Johnny Coy, Ernie McCoy, Fred Clifton, Bobby Hamilton and Jack Duffy.
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1961
Hiroyuki "Hiro" Matsushita ... Born ... A former driver in the Champ Car series. He is the grandson of Konosuke Matsushita, founder of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.; as a result, he has always carried Panasonic sponsorship. By the time he retired in 1998, Matsushita had started 117 Champ Car races for Dick Simon, Walker Racing, Arciero/Wells Racing and Payton/Coyne.
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1965
Ronnie Duman won the 100 lap USAC Midget race at the Cincinnati Gardens, Cincinnati, Ohio
Parnelli Jones won the 100 lap USAC Midget race at the Kearney Bowl, Fresno, CA.
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1971
Sammy Sessions won the 40 lap USAC Sprint Car race at the Tri County Speedway, West Chester, Ohio
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1972
David Pearson drove a Chevrolet Camaro to victory as NASCAR inaugurated it's new Grand National East division with a 100 mile race on the 1/2 mile dirt Jacksonville Speedway. Pearson finished 2 laps ahead of another Camaro driven by Charlie Blanton with veteran Buck Baker 3rd in a Pontiac Firebird. Veteran GN independents Wendell Scott and James Hylton rounded out the top 5. The series was created when the Grand National schedule was cut to 31 races after the 1971 season by eliminating most short tracks and all dirt tracks. Open to Grand American "muscle cars" as well as GN legal cars, the schedule was made up of traditional GN short track races of 250 miles or less in length. The division only lasted two seasons.
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1976
Bobby Unser won the USAC Championship 'Jimmy Bryan 150' at FasTrack International Speedway (the 1 mile oval at Phoenix International Raceway temporarily under another name). Finishing behind Unser's Offy powered Eagle was Pancho Carter in Unser's former ride, the Jorgensen Eagle. Arlene Hiss became the first woman to start an Indy Car race, finishing 22 laps down.
Cale Yarborough wins the Volunteer 500 over Darrell Waltrip at the Bristol Motor Speedway , Bristol, TN.
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1982
Darrell Waltrip wins the Valleydale 500 over Dale Earnhardt at the Bristol Motor Speedway , Bristol, TN.
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1999
Jeff Gordon wins the Cracker Barrel 500 over Bobby Labonte at the Atlanta Motor Speedway , Atlanta, GA.
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2004
Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins the Golden Corral 500 over Jeremy Mayfield at the Atlanta Motor Speedway , Atlanta, GA.
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2008
Jason Meyers won the third round of the Golden State Challenge Series at the Ocean Speedway , Watsonville, CA. ( Click here for the race report. )
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