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Race Card #100-What's tougher than drivin' sprint cars?

When Nelson Stacy first got to Darlington for the '61 Southern 500 he was met with all the horror stories about heat, gnats, bear grease and the like. Just like any rookie would be when he was introduced to "the Lady in Black" in the early days. The comments about how he would need oxygen after he fell out of the race with heat exhaustion and other dire predictions didn't seem to faze Mr. Stacy.

Maybe he knew something that the rest didn't because at the end of the race it was some of the ones that tried to shake him with their warnings that were themselves in the pits getting oxygen while "Mr. Cool" Stacy was setting up the leader for a pass in Darlington's narrow one groove third turn that everybody said was not possible.

Coming back to Darlington for the next race as defending champion of the storied Southern 500 did a lot to stem the tide of "you better look out for" type stories. And a good thing too because the last thing you need to do for someone who has shown he wasn't afraid of the ol' girl's combination of heat and close quarters racing is more ventilation. Yep, they cut the roofs off the cars for the last time in '62 for the final Darlington ragtop event. And when the dust settled, there was a very familiar face in victory lane in a big yellow Ford without a roof but still with that familiar red #29 on the doors.

If they had done their homework they could have saved themselves a lot of time trying to intimidate Mr. Stacy. While some consider sprint cars the most demanding of driving jobs, it seems that Nelson had learned his ways of dealing with adverse driving conditions in one of George Patton's rides. While not as fast as a sprint car or flamboyant as the Grand Nationals it was still a pretty formidable piece of equipment.

All that time spent driving one of General Patton's battle tanks in combat in the desert in World War II may have been just what a new driver needed to get him ready to take on "the Lady in Black" and her crazy suiters like Fireball and Curtis.
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