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Race Card #86-Forget Waldo, where Pops?

After three years of being "banned for life" from the south's premiere stock car circuit you would think (and Bill France probably hoped) that the race fan had forgotten Curtis Turner. But when Charlotte Motor Speedway needed a support event for the '64 National 400 they put in a call to ARCA to help. Well they got a little more than they bargained for when John Marcum brought his traveling road show into Charlotte that fall.

Circuit champ for the previous two years, Jack Bowsher entered two cars and brought along a little surprise with them. The announced driver was non other than the old pro, Curtis Morton Turner.

Back in those days the speedway had what was called "Boy Scout Safety Day" on the Saturday before their main race on Sunday. They would have practice and some sort of race and let the Scouts in for free. I got to see Fireball's purple Ford take a few practice laps the year before but that was nothing compared to what I was in store for in '64.

The first inkling that something special might be afoot was when fans started calling the speedway and asking for tickets for the SATURDAY race which was pretty much considered a "throwaway" event, one of the main reasons that the scouts got free tickets. It brought in paying adults at the rate of one per every 4 0r 5 scouts and made the pictures of the stands look better with people in the seats.

It was a little different race event in that the rules were a little different concerning allowed equipment on the cars and in the pits. Air wrenches were not allowed because it would add unneccesarilly to the expense of racing. How not buying a $40 air wrench (this was before the hi-tech modified custom built marvels that they use today) would save so much money for a team is beyond me. But that was one of the ARCA rules then. You should have seen those guys spin those extra long four-ways with the trailer balls welded to the bent back handles. They weren't that far off from the air wrenchs of the day.

When the dust settled that day, no one who had bought one of those "Turner Tickets" went home dissappionted. Ol' Pops not only had everybody covered but even finished in a lap by himself, putting his boss man Bowsher a lap down by the end of the event. Helped to take the sting out of the fact that I wouldn't get to see that pearl purple Ford take any laps this year. It had turned its last lap at the same track in May and a young fan lost his first hero.

Turner ran wherever he could to keep his hand in and here's my model of his USAC ride for '64. When the Mopars pulled out in '65 and France found out that Turner was planning on building a new super speedway just up the road from where I lived he decided, out of the goodness of his heart, to reinstate Turner and lift his "lifetime" ban to help out an old friend. Yeah right. This one's dedicated to Bunny Turner, Curtis' widow and one classy lady.


 
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