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Race Card #101-Nice Guys Do Finish First.

And if ever there was a nice guy who strapped into one of these fire-breathing monsters it would be Marvin Panch. Although he did finish second to the yellow Ford in yesterday's post and it was the second time in a row.

Marvin was driving in relief for Fireball Roberts in the '61 Southern 500 and leading it in the closing stages. But he soon found his mirror filled with a yellow Starliner driven by that "rookie" that everyone was ribbing before the start. It was that ol' tank driver knockin' on the door and Marvin finished second.

The next time Darlington opened its gates was for the final convertible race and Marvin was now in the Wood Brothers Ford. Coming down to the finish, it was Marvin leading again. Unfortunately he had the same problem in the Spring that he had in the previous Fall. Yep, a pesky yellow Ford in his mirror. And just like the Southern 500, Stacy passed him two laps from the end and took the win. At least he fared better than his fellow Ford driver Fred Lorenzen who finished third but did it upside down when he flipped his convertible on the last lap.

1963 didn't get anything but worse for Marvin. While testing a 427 powered Maserati at Daytona he encounterd the increasingly potent aerodynamic forces that the increased speeds were bringing into play at the huge track. The car spun and flipped, catching fire with Marvin inside and upside down. The doors on the car opened into the roof like the Corvettes and the Ford GT cars so he couldn't get out. Five people ran to the car and tried to help Marvin out but couldn't get the door opened. They were just about to give it up as too late when they saw Marvin moving in the car. Tiny Lund picked the car up far enough so they could open the door and pull Marvin out. With Marvin in the hospital, both he and the Woods decided to give Tiny a chance at the car already qualified for the Daytona 500. Tiny got his reward when he won the race in a car set up so perfectly that it didn't need a tire change all day.

By May's World 600 Marvin was back in the saddle of the #21 finising the long haul in seventh place. He made his comeback complete with a win in that year's Wilkes 250 at North Wilkesboro in the fall.

Today's car is his ride for the '64 season in which he won three races. This is one of my favorite models and was handlettered WAY before the excellent current set of decals came out so it may look a little shakey but I hope it does Marvin justice.

I don't think there was ever a meeker or nicer driver, with the possible exception of Wendell Scott, that ever ran in the Grand National ranks. I was listening to a conversation about Tiny Lund substituting for Marvin and winnning the Daytona 500 that Betty Panch was giving Tiny a hard time about not at least coming to see Marvin in the hospital. Marvin quietly broke in and said that it was all right, he didn't like hospitals and he didn't visit them much himself. That was Marvin, meek but not timid, soft spoken but not afraid of anything. And that was Betty who watched over Marvin like a lioness watches her cubs. Two really wonderful people.

I've met a lot of nice guys in my wanderings through the world of stock car racing but I never met a nicer guy who finished first than Marvin Panch.

Well, we've got just one more regular card to go before the "sign off" card and then I'm gonna lay low for a little while to work on the DVD project. I hope to get it ready in about another month so start writing your letters to Santa and saving your pennies so you'll be ready when it is. Looks like about a two hour run time with all sorts of stuff, some of it might even be interesting. I'll keep you posted.


 

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Luke'57 said:
The car spun and flipped, catching fire with Marvin inside and upside down. The doors on the car opened into the roof like the Corvettes and the Ford GT cars so he couldn't get out. Five people ran to the car and tried to help Marvin out but couldn't get the door opened. They were just about to give it up as too late when they saw Marvin moving in the car. Tiny Lund picked the car up far enough so they could open the door and pull Marvin out.
:eek:
 
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