I have just come across your website and I have truly enjoyed the stories of the days of real stockcar racing. The days when the average Joe could build a car in his garage and win on Saturday night. But reading the story "A bad night at Starlite" the wreck that killed James Sears, it brought back memories of my child hood and speedways in eastern NC.
I remember seeing James Sears race at the old Fayetteville Speedway in the late 60's and early 70's (part of the parking lot is now a cemetery). He drove a car (27) for the late Dallas Parker who was from the Dunn/Benson area of NC. I guess you could say he was one of the pioneers in multi-car operations. I think at one time he had as many as four cars being raced out of his garage. It was just after the 350 Chevrolet engines were becoming popular on the dirt tracks. You could tell when James Sears was driving a car at the old Fayetteville track. No one could pat the gas coming of the corners like he could (the track was 3/8 mile, almost round). Getting everything out of the car he could, get most of the time sideways. I remember hearing of his death and thought about his driving style and how he made a race interesting.
Speaking of the old Fayetteville Speedway, my family visited it every Sat. night during my childhood. It was operated back then by the late Pete Fann. It was always a family affair complete with the picnic basket packed by my mother on Sat. afternoons. A childhood friend of my daddy's (Wallace Beal) owned the #77 Ford. It was always a dark blue Ford with white rims. The first car I remember was a '61 Ford Starliner and was driven by Tommy Tompkins from Fayetteville, Jimmy Norton from Somewhere in SC, and Tom Usry from Sanford. As the Chevelles started to dominate the dirt scene, a 63 Ford Fairlane was built. Tommy Bostick from Timmonsville, SC, visited the speedway a year earlier with a 63 Mercury Comet with a 302 engine and blistered the Chevy competition. So the Ford folks were interested in the smaller and lighter cars, the Fairlane did the trick, winning a great many races.
I enjoyed that winter going and watching that car being built. Drivers of that car were Tom Usry, Glen McDuffie (brother of JD), Roy Tyner and after the car was put out to pasture and used only for a back up car, the late Wendell Scott drove the car in a promotional race visit for Patrick Ford (one of the cars sponsors). In the late 70's a 67 Fairlane was built. It was driven by Glen McDuffie and David Boggs from Raleigh, NC. There were a few other drivers from time to time. All these cars raced mainly at the old Fayetteville Speedway, but also raced at Wilson County, Leland Speedway (Wilmington, NC), Dunn Speedway and Wake County.
That was along time ago, but those cars and drivers provided a lot of entertainment for my family and myself, wish it could be like that again.
If you have dirt track memories to share, contact me @ firstname.lastname@example.org
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