Painting by Buz McKim
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Dale Jr Bud...
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(1928- September 5,1960 at Darlington, SC)
“The best mechanic to ever turn a wrench.”
Paul McDuffie, originally from Hawkinsville, Georgia, became highly noted as the man who led Chevrolet factory racing into NASCAR in the late 50's providing cars for Fireball Roberts in 1957, winning 12 of 15 starts. McDuffie's cars won the Southern 500 at Darlington with Fireball Roberts in 1958 and the inaugural World 600 at Charlotte with Joe Lee Johnson in 1960.
McDuffie was killed, along with two other men, in a tragic accident at Darlington during the 1960 Southern 500. The accident occurred when Bobby Johns' out of control racer spun into the pits, hitting the pit wall. Crew chief McDuffie, Charles Sweatlund of Atlanta, GA, and Joe Taylor of Charlotte, NC, an official inspector for Nascar were all killed in the accident.
The cars of Roy Tyner of Red Springs, North Carolina, and Bobby Johns of Miami, Florida, locked bumpers about one-fourth of the way through the race. Johns' car rolled onto its roof and slid upside-down into the concrete pit will. Parts of the smashed wall flew into the occupied pit area behind the wall, killing three, and injuring three other men.
John Blalock*, Ralph Byers, and R. M. Vermillion, Jr., all from Atlanta, Georgia, were hospitalized in Florence, South Carolina. Blalock was in critical condition; the other two men were in serious condition. Neither of the two drivers were injured. Joe Lee Johnson, the driver of the car owned by McDuffie and serviced by the Atlanta crew members, withdrew from the race.
Bobby Johns car, obviously after crash - Picture 1
Fin St # Driver Sponsor / Owner Car Laps Money Status Led
40 5 5 Bobby Johns Cotton Owens '60 Pontiac 95 210 crash 4
There is a public AP Wirephoto newspaper article on the crash. Because of the historic significance we will list the publicly available article. HOWEVER, WE WARN YOU THAT THE PICTURE IS GRAPHIC. We apologize to any family member or other person that may object to the photo. Here is the Link.
*7/9/08 Email: "Read your story about Paul McDuffie, my uncle was John Blalock.My Father was Hank Blalock who drove Midgets up until 1955 and was SE Champion and was critically injured in a crash and passed away in 1956." Thanks, Duane Blalock
A Fireball Story
The third running of the Rebel continued Curtis Turner's antics but since the other car didn't belong to the Ford camp, Holman's pleas fell on the deaf ears of a hard charging Buck Baker. Buck led the first lap until 'Ol Leadfoot moved him out of the way. This went on for enough laps to turn the car owner's hair grey and to make the cars thirsty enough for the first round of pit stops. Paul McDuffie, Fireball's crew chief, got Roberts' Chevy out of the pits in front where he stayed for most of the rest of the day. It was Fireball's second win in three starts in the Rebel.
The Sixth Annual Induction Ceremony of the
Georgia Racing Hall of Fame
Paul McDuffie 2007 Inductee
Date: Friday, October 26, 2007
Place: Dawsonville City Hall -
Home of the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame
415 Hwy. 53 East, Dawsonville, Georgia 30534
Bobby Johns car, obviously after crash - Picture 2
Paul McDuffie, originally from Hawkinsville, Georgia, became highly noted as the man who led Chevrolet factory racing into NASCAR in the late 50's mechanicing cars for Fireball Roberts in 1957, winning 12 of 15 starts. McDuffie's cars won the Southern 500 at Darlington with Fireball Roberts in 1958. The car owner is Frank Strickland, pictured above.
Paul McDuffie Grand National OWNER Statistics
Note: Page under construction. Please send stories or pictures for inclusion.
Sources: Book "The Tribute Project", edited by Ed Watson, 1997, page 28, contribution by Donald Knouse.
Book "The History of America's Speedways - Past & Present", by Allan E. Brown, third edition, first printing, November 2003, America's Speedways, PO Box 448, Comstock Park, MI, 49321-0448, United States, ISBN 0-931105-61-7, page 649.
Newspaper The New York Times (New York City, NY, United States), issue of 06 September 1960, page 48, Associated Press wire service, story "Three Killed at 500-Mile Auto Race; Baker Is Declared Victor"; United Press International Telephoto, caption "Car driven by Bobby Johns in Southern 500 at Darlington, S.C., spins toward the sidelines, scattering the pit crews".
Newspaper The Post Standard (Syracuse, NY, United States), issue of 06 September 1960, page 5, Associated Press wire service, article "Race Crash Kills Three".
Newspaper The Daily Courier (Connellsville, PA, United States), issue of 06 September 1960, page 7, United Press International wire service, article "Three Die as Baker Wins Southern 500 Race at Darlington".
Newspaper The Lima News (Lima, OH, United States), issue of 06 September 1960, page 16, United Press International wire service, article "Three Killed As Buck Baker Wins National Stock Title".
Newspaper Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, CA, United States), issue of 06 September 1960, pages C1 and C3, Associated Press wire service, article "Three Pit Men Killed in Stock-Car 500-Miler"; AP Wirephoto, caption "Death's Hand - This car driven by Bobby Johns of Miami, Fla., blew a tire yesterday during the Southern "500" stock car race in Darlington, S.C., and skidded through the pit area, killing three men."
Website Racing-Reference.com, 1960 Southern 500, page http://www.racing-reference.com/race?id=1960-35&series=W.
Website Atlas F1, bulletin boards, "The Nostalgia Forum", thread "Speed's Ultimate Price: The Toll", page 38, posting by "erkelly2", message http://forums.atlasf1.com/showthread.php?postid=1631658#post1631658
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