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Grover Clifton "G. C." Spencer
Born: July 9, 1925       Died: September 20, 2007
Home: Jonesboro, TN

G.C. Spencer, longtime NASCAR driver and car owner, dies at 82
By DAVID POOLE   The Charlotte Observer

G.C. Spencer, a longtime driver and car owner in NASCAR’s top series, died Thursday in Johnson City, Tenn. Spencer, 82, suffered from emphysema.

Spencer ran in 415 races between 1958 and 1977. He did not win on what’s now known as the Nextel Cup circuit, but finished second seven times and had 55 top-five finishes and 138 top 10s.

Spencer’s best season was in 1965, when he finished in the top five 14 times and in the top 10 in 25 races on his way to a fourth-place finish in the final standings.

Spencer ran his final race as a driver at Atlanta in 1977 at age 51 and fielded cars as a team owner until, in 1983, Larry McClure purchased Spencer’s equipment and formed Morgan-McClure Motorsports. Spencer was team manager for Morgan-McClure for three seasons before retiring.

“I saw G.C. a couple of weeks ago, and he certainly still had his wit and was as active as he could be," McClure told the Kingsport (Tenn.) Times-News.

“He was a tough customer - a tough guy that the racing community is going to miss. I know I'm going to miss him sorely. He's the reason I'm in racing and have been in racing the last 25 years. He was a good guy and a good friend.” A graveside service will be held at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Johnson City.

NASCAR pioneer G.C. Spencer dies at 82
Published 09/20/2007 By Jeff Bob

JOHNSON CITY — NASCAR pioneer G.C. Spencer won so many short track races in the 1940s and ’50s he literally caused some Midwest racetracks to close down because fellow competitors would stop showing up.

But the Jonesborough resident fell short of reaching victory lane in his 20-year NASCAR career, which included 415 starts in what is now known as the Nextel Cup.

Spencer, 82, died Thursday morning at the NHC Healthcare Center in Johnson City following a long battle with emphysema. He’d lived in Jonesborough since 1962 when he married his wife, Faye, a Johnson City native.

Spencer was born in Owensboro, Ky., and moved to southern Indiana upon being discharged from the Navy following World War II. He told the Times-News during an interview this past March that he ran his first race in 1946 on a dare after friends commented on his penchant for hot-rodding around town. After finishing second — he recounted — he thought to himself, “Boy, this is easy.”

Thus began Spencer’s dominating short track career that spanned more than a decade throughout the Midwest. He had no idea how many races he won but estimated it in the hundreds.

In 1958 he joined some racing friends in Inman, S.C., and initiated his NASCAR career. Admittedly, the move into NASCAR’s premier division was not as easy as he’d expected.

“I went to (NASCAR) races with them and watched them, and I thought to myself, ‘Boy if I could just get me one of these cars I could dust these people,’” Spencer said. “I found out later you couldn’t hardly even run last with them when I finally did get a ’57 Chevy. It looked easy, but it wasn’t. When you’ve got Lee Petty, Buck Baker, Jack Smith and all that bunch, you’ve got your hands full.”

Spencer competed in NASCAR’s top division from 1958-77. Throughout that time he never acquired the coveted “factory deal” with a manufacturer, which was a necessity for any consistent winner in NASCAR. He was offered a deal with Ford prior to the 1965 season, his only full-time run for a championship.

When Ford’s chief rival Chrysler dropped out of NASCAR prior to the first race, however, Ford backed out on the deal with Spencer, telling him they didn’t need him anymore.

That year he placed fourth in the championship point standings and finished second in three races — each time behind eventual champion Ned Jarrett.

“I believe if Ford had stuck with me in ’65 I could have won the championship,” Spencer said.

Spencer had seven second-place Cup finishes in his career but never won a race. He also helped several area drivers get their first starts in NASCAR including Bluff City racer John A. Utsman. Spencer was the car owner for the majority of Utsman’s Cup series starts.

“I won the track championship at Kingsport in 1972, and G.C. came out to the garage and said, ‘If I bought a car would you drive it for me at Daytona?’” Utsman said Thursday. “Well I never dreamed of running at Daytona, but he gave me a chance, and I’ll never forget it. He was a heck of a friend and a good guy, and to give me a chance like he gave me — I would have never got to run any Winston Cup if it weren’t for him.

“He was a real friend, and he meant a lot to me.”

Spencer hung up his helmet in 1977 at the age of 51 and continued fielding cars as an owner until 1983.

In 1983 Larry McClure purchased Spencer’s equipment and formed the Abingdon, Va.-based Morgan-McClure Motorsports. Spencer hired on as Morgan-McClure’s team manager for three seasons before retiring from racing.

Temporary Picture by Highbankslope.comAfter racing he and Faye operated an antique business.

“I saw G.C. a couple of weeks ago, and he certainly still had his wit and was as active as he could be,” McClure said Thursday. “He was a tough customer — a tough guy that the racing community is going to miss. I know I’m going to miss him sorely. He’s the reason I’m in racing and have been in racing the last 25 years. He was a good guy and a good friend.”

Spencer told the Times-News he probably stayed in NASCAR too long and spent money as a car owner that he should have saved. At the end of his life he and Faye were living mainly on Social Security and his Veterans Administration health benefits in a small house in Jonesborough.

Unlike every other major sport in America, there is no pension for retired NASCAR drivers. In his 20-year NASCAR career Spencer earned only $250,000, less than the lowest paid driver in this year’s Daytona 500.

“I probably stayed in it too long, and I definitely spent a lot of money at the end that I should have held onto,” Spencer told the Times-News in March. “We came back from Daytona in ’83 with a $4,500 hotel bill and didn’t even make the race, and I said that’s enough for me.”

He added: “Racing is a hard life, but I loved it, and that’s what I wanted to do. You really have to love it because racing becomes your whole life. I didn’t make a lot of money at it, but I did OK. I’d do it all over again if I had the chance.”

Appalachian Funeral Home in Johnson City is handling Spencer’s funeral arrangements.


1934 Chevy, known as the famous "Flying Saucer",
with driver, G.C, Spencer.
Owners and engine builders
were Louis and Crawford Clements
.

 

 


This Elvis movie, Speedway, was about stock car racing at the famed Charlotte Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina, where location race scenes were filmed. Participating in the movie were several champion professional NASCAR racers including: G. C. Spencer, Richard Petty, Buddy Baker, Cale Yarborough, Tiny Lund, Dick Hutcherson and Roy Mayne who played themselves. Sandy Reed, a professional race announcer, played the announcer for 'Speedway'.  Christopher West, who  played Billie Jo, was the reigning Queen of Laguna-Seca Sport Car Races at the time.

      Some G.C. Spencer Racing at Daytona

February 22, 1964             Daytona International Speedway NASCAR Modified      Finish: 36
February 13, 1965             Daytona International Speedway NASCAR Modified       
February 19, 1967       Daytona ARCA 250      Daytona International Speedway ARCA Stock Car      Finish: 30

  G.C. Spencer Grand National DRIVER Statistics

Year Age Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn
1958 32 1 of 51 0 0 0 0 343 0 315 36 12.0 16.0
1959 33 28 of 44 0 1 5 0 4552 0 3,700 13 16.5 16.3
1960 34 26 of 44 0 2 6 0 4907 0 3,910 33 18.1 15.2
1961 35 31 of 52 0 3 18 0 6221 0 7,363 20 16.3 13.0
1962 36 42 of 53 0 6 13 0 7300 0 8,260 24 14.3 15.8
1963 37 31 of 55 0 4 12 0 4888 30 13,514 18 11.9 14.6
1964 38 20 of 62 0 4 6 0 3601 0 9,490 26 17.7 16.6
1965 39 47 of 55 0 14 25 1 9092 90 29,775 4 8.7 11.9
1966 40 20 of 49 0 6 9 0 4701 2 26,721 19 15.2 18.4
1967 41 29 of 49 0 5 10 0 4947 0 20,225 21 12.3 19.0
1968 42 26 of 49 0 1 6 0 4380 0 10,120 23 13.0 21.9
1969 43 26 of 54 0 4 8 0 4823 0 21,675 26 13.3 19.0
1970 44 20 of 48 0 3 9 0 4618 0 17,915 27 13.8 16.5
1971 45 17 of 48 0 2 6 0 3325 12 11,470 34 14.8 20.2
1972 46 10 of 31 0 0 1 0 1492 0 8,040 43 21.0 28.9
1973 47 10 of 28 0 0 1 0 1459 0 12,013 37 18.5 27.0
1974 48 10 of 30 0 0 1 0 1205 3 12,985 38 20.0 29.0
1975 49 9 of 30 0 0 1 0 906 11 14,945 40 27.0 31.1
1976 50 4 of 30 0 0 0 0 501 0 4,965 59 26.5 27.8
1977 51 8 of 30 0 0 1 0 1817 0 15,755 39 23.0 21.8
20 years 415 0 55 138 1 75078 148 253,156   14.9 17.7

  G.C. Spencer Grand National OWNER Statistics

Year Driver Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn
1959 G.C. Spencer 28 0 1 5 0 4552 0 3,700 13 16.5 16.3
1960 G.C. Spencer 4 0 0 0 0 533 0 3,910 33 20.0 17.8
1961 G.C. Spencer 31 0 3 18 0 6221 0 7,363 20 16.3 13.0
1962 G.C. Spencer 37 0 6 13 0 6638 0 8,260 24 12.0 14.1
1963 G.C. Spencer 15 0 3 6 0 1996 0 13,514 18 11.3 14.9
1964 Elmo Henderson 1 0 0 0 0 6 0 2,175 59 35.0 31.0
1964 Doug Moore 16 0 0 6 0 2809 0 5,175 39 16.2 14.2
1964 G.C. Spencer 14 0 3 4 0 2934 0 9,490 26 17.7 16.1
1965 G.C. Spencer 46 0 14 25 1 9063 90 29,775 4 8.5 11.8
1966 G.C. Spencer 19 0 5 8 0 4508 2 26,721 19 15.3 19.1
1967 Ed Negre 1 0 0 0 0 446 0 3,805 49 27.0 12.0
1967 Wendell Scott 1 0 0 0 0 182 0 19,510 10 35.0 28.0
1967 G.C. Spencer 25 0 3 7 0 3893 0 20,225 21 11.8 20.0
1968 Wendell Scott 1 0 0 0 0 436 0 20,497 9 22.0 15.0
1968 G.C. Spencer 23 0 1 5 0 3778 0 10,120 23 13.0 22.0
1969 J.D. McDuffie 1 0 0 0 0 380 0 30,861 14 17.0 12.0
1969 Ed Negre 13 0 0 3 0 2198 0 15,615 27 16.5 21.6
1969 Wendell Scott 1 0 0 0 0 297 0 47,451 9 27.0 17.0
1969 G.C. Spencer 26 0 4 8 0 4823 0 21,675 26 13.3 19.0
1969 E.J. Trivette 2 0 0 1 0 461 0 35,896 11 22.5 15.0
1969 Frank Warren 1 0 0 0 0 73 0 15,677 29 14.0 30.0
1970 G.C. Spencer 20 0 3 9 0 4618 0 17,915 27 13.8 16.5
1971 Earl Brooks 1 0 0 0 0 67 0 25,360 17 23.0 37.0
1971 Neil Castles 1 0 0 0 0 114 0 22,939 22 17.0 36.0
1971 Ed Negre 2 0 0 0 0 103 0 29,738 12 18.0 23.5
1971 G.C. Spencer 16 0 2 6 0 3116 12 11,470 34 14.1 20.1
1972 G.C. Spencer 9 0 0 1 0 1397 0 8,040 43 20.3 28.1
1973 G.C. Spencer 10 0 0 1 0 1459 0 12,013 37 18.5 27.0
1973 John Utsman 3 0 0 1 0 775 0 2,965 64 24.7 22.3
1974 G.C. Spencer 10 0 0 1 0 1205 3 12,985 38 20.0 29.0
1975 G.C. Spencer 9 0 0 1 0 906 11 14,945 40 27.0 31.1
1976 Henley Gray 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 15,780 27 19.0 36.0
1976 Dick May 1 0 0 0 0 213 0 29,425 25 23.0 28.0
1976 G.C. Spencer 4 0 0 0 0 501 0 4,965 59 26.5 27.8
1976 John Utsman 4 0 0 0 0 1276 0 8,185 56 29.2 15.0
1977 Henley Gray 1 0 0 0 0 15 0 18,610 28 40.0 39.0
1977 G.C. Spencer 8 0 0 1 0 1817 0 15,755 39 23.0 21.8
1978 Claude Ballot-Lena 4 0 0 0 0 460 0 7,770   25.8 28.0
1978 Connie Saylor 3 0 0 1 0 820 0 9,115 54 27.3 19.3
1979 Claude Ballot-Lena 2 0 0 0 0 251 0 2,080   33.0 29.0
1979 Connie Saylor 2 0 0 0 0 262 0 4,435 77 13.5 26.0
1980 Gary Baker 1 0 0 0 0 145 0 3,440   15.0 22.0
1980 Connie Saylor 5 0 0 0 0 1171 5 9,350 67 22.4 24.4
1981 Connie Saylor 7 0 0 0 0 1267 0 18,780 39 28.6 22.7
1982 Connie Saylor 7 0 0 0 0 1450 3 16,225 49 27.9 27.6
24 years 437 0 48 131 1 79636 126 673,700   16.0 18.6


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