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Sam McQuagg
Born: November 11, 1937   Died: January 3, 2009
Home: Columbus, GA

McQuagg and DIS forever linked by Godwin Kelly - Daytona Beach News Journal 1/5/09


It is the men of racing, such as Sam McQuagg, and their unusual successes that give Daytona International Speed­way its motorsports mystique.
  McQuagg, 71, died Saturday after battling cancer, but he will forever be linked to the track that helps make and break driving careers.
  McQuagg was Daytona’s ultimate spoil­er, since he was the first driver to use the aerody­namic device on a stock car in a race over the 2.5-mile tri­oval. A spoiler is just a strip of metal attached to the rear of the trunk lid and produces downforce on the rear of the car.
  It all sounds simple, but it took Chrysler engineers months of work to come up with the idea, which McQuagg used to his advantage on the No. 98 Dodge for the 1966 Firecracker 400. ‘‘We were down there for two or three weeks in the month of June,’’ McQuagg said last summer in the weeks lead­ing up to the 50th running of the Coke Zero 400. ‘‘The car wouldn’t run at all.
  ‘‘You start down the back­stretch at about 180 (mph) and it would start lifting. The back end started spinning the back wheels. The engineers came up with this little spoiler. It was an inch and half tall across the back of the car and the car im­mediately picked up about five or six mph.’’
  The car was owned by Ray Nichels, who was a part-time car owner with a lot of racing connections. Nichels won 10 races over the years as a car owner, but none was more un­anticipated than McQuagg’s run on that July 4.
  McQuagg, from Columbus, Ga., dominated the day by leading 126 of 160 laps, beating runner-up Darel Dieringer by 66 seconds. Dieringer ran out of gas on the last lap and coasted under the checkered flag.
 GOOD CAR, GOOD GUY

  ‘‘It was a very good car,’’ said McQuagg, who was the 1965 NASCAR Rookie of the Year.
  ‘‘We lost an engine in the car the day before the race. We put an­other one in it and we didn’t know how it would run and it ran better than the other one. It was just a very good car that day.’’
  It looked like the start of a brilliant career. McQuagg was only 26 years old when he conquered Daytona, whipping the likes of Mario Andretti, Richard Petty, Curtis Turner and David Pearson.
  But the 400 would be McQuagg’s first and only NASCAR Cup Series triumph. The  following season, he drove for some of the top car owners in the business, a roster that in­cluded Bud Moore, Nord Kraus­kopf and Cotton Owens.
  He produced some top fives, but could not reproduce the magic he had at Daytona in 1966, and rapidly disappeared off the NASCAR radar. Unlike many drivers, who continue on a path of fruitlessness, McQuagg went to school and got a license to fly private planes.
  He was a successful corporate pilot for more than 25 years.
  McQuagg retired happy, rich with memories of his brief NASCAR career.
  As he told the media last summer, ‘‘It meant awful lot to win at Daytona. It’s the Taj Mahal of racetracks.’’
 

Thought you would be interested in this. In is from the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer newspaper's website.
 Eke Brown
 
In July 1966, Sam McQuagg made a memory for his two sons that will last a lifetime.
Driving a Dodge Charger, the Columbus born and bred racer won the Firecracker 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
Sam McQuagg Jr., now 51, remembers what it was like being a kid in victory lane at Daytona.
“I remember getting to climb all over that car in victory lane,” McQuagg Jr. said. “I was all over it and through it. And my brother, Mark, was up on the hood.”
McQuagg Sr., 73, died Saturday morning at St. Francis Hospital from cancer. Visitation will be Monday from 6-8 p.m. at McMullen Mortuary. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at McMullen.
McQuagg raced mostly on the short tracks of Georgia, Alabama and Florida and spent the later part of his life as a corporate pilot.
He ran a total of 62 NASCAR Grand National (Sprint Cup) races between 1962 and 1974, with 21 Top 10 finishes.
His lone Grand National win came in Daytona. McQuagg earned $21,000 for the victory, but the real bonus came when he returned to Columbus, McQuagg Jr. said.
“We went down to Daytona that year in ‘65 Chevrolet station wagon,” McQuagg Jr. remembers. “We drove it back to Columbus and went to Chuck Hutton Dodge. He and mother drove off that lot that day with two new 1966 Dodge Chargers.”
It looked like that win was going to land McQuagg in the seat of an established team. He got an offer in 1967 to drive for the Wood Brothers.
“But there was a hitch,” McQuagg Jr. said. “They told him he would have to use Firestone tires. My dad was a very loyal man. He said he would only run Goodyears.”
The reason?
When McQuagg started racing and was running short on cash, Goodyear gave him tires.
“He just said he couldn’t do it,” McQuagg Jr. said.
NASCAR legend Cale Yarborough ended up with the ride.
McQuagg also played a big role in one of NASCAR’s most famous wrecks. In 1965 -- the year he was Grand National Rookie of the Year -- he was leading the Southern 500 at Darlington.
Yarborough tried to get past McQuagg’s yellow No. 24 car. Yarborough’s car flew over the guardrail, rolled six times, and ended up in the parking lot.
For several year’s ABC’s Wide World of Sports showed the clip during its intro.
“That was the agony of defeat,” McQuagg Jr. said.
Though McQuagg never found stardom in the big leagues, he was a well-known local short-track racer who played a role in bringing brothers Bobby and Donnie Allison and Red Farmer to Alabama.
McQuagg told his story to the Ledger-Enquirer in 1996.
He was at a North Florida Championship race when he ran into the men who later formed the famed Alabama Gang.
“It was about 1958, 1959, and they were asking me what racing was like up here and I told them we were racing three or four nights a week,” McQuagg said. “And they came up here and run some races with us and then decided to move here. But they liked the Birmingham area better than Georgia.”
McQuagg was inducted into the Jacksonville (Fla,) Speedway Hall of Fame and the Georgia Automobile Racing Hall of Fame Association
But when McQuagg walked away from racing, he never looked back.
Late in his racing career he became a pilot. In 1973, he went to work for the W.C. Bradley Co. as head of the aviation department and retired 24 years later.
The last 10 years of his life, McQuagg and his wife of 54 years, Joy, traveled the United States in a motor home.
“They went from Alaska to South Florida, New England to California,” McQuagg Jr. said. “They put 450,000 miles on three different motor homes and had a real good life.”
 
He is survived by his wife, Joy Baggett McQuagg and three children, Sam McQuagg Jr., Mark McQuagg and Rita Renfroe, all of Columbus.
Contact Chuck Williams at 706-320-4485

Sam McQuagg is a former NASCAR Rookie of the Year driver. He was named NASCAR Rookie of the Year in 1965 after achieving 5 top-10 finishes in 16 races. McQuagg was a major player in an incident in one of the wildest NASCAR races ever. McQuagg was leading the 1965 Southern 500, when Cale Yarborough tried to muscle past McQuagg for the lead. Yarborough flew over the guardrail, rolled around six times, and ended up at the end of the parking lot by a light post. Yarborough waved to the crowd as he walked back to the pits. A video clip of the wreck was used on ABC's Wide World of Sports for several years. The race was eventually won by 14 laps by Ned Jarrett.

Dodge noticed his accomplishments in his small Ford team, and Dodge hired him to their factory team. He was the first driver to use a spoiler. He used the spoiler to win the Firecracker 400 at Daytona International Speedway; the flag from the Firecracker 400 now hangs on his grandson's wall. His Dodge Charger was sponsored by a newlywed Georgia couple. McQuagg was also the first driver to bring a motorhome into the Daytona garage area. 
            

In 1967 he was hired to drive Cotton Owens's Dodge. He ran 14 races, and had 3 top-5 finishes. On lap 81, he tangled with another driver at Darlington, went over the guardrail, and flipped numerous times before coming to a rest. The wrecks frustrated McQuagg, and he scaled back his schedule to mainly local tracks. He retired from racing to become a commercial pilot, which was a skill he had learned to travel quickly between races.

His last start came in World 600 in 1974.

Racer Profile: Sam McQuagg
Posted on May 12, 2006   By Allen Madding

Born November 11, 1937, Columbus, Georgia native Sam McQuagg began racing in 1956 buying half interest in a 1934 Ford. McQuagg quit his construction job and began competing on the local dirt tracks becoming almost unbeatable on the dirt at Valdosta 75 Speedway.

"We went to a half-mile dirt track over here in Auburn-Opelika, Ala., and I won the heat race and ran second in the feature. Liked to have won the feature in the first race I ever run in my life," McQuagg would later recall.

In 1962, McQuagg entered his first NASCAR Grand National Division events driving his own No. 62 Ford at Valdosta. McQuagg qualified 9th for the event, but a blown motor dropped him to a 12th place starting position.

McQuagg returned to NASCAR Grand National competition in 1963 driving J.

L. Thomas’s No. 71 and 72 Ford in 5 events. He was plagued with mechanical trouble recording 4 DNF’s and a best finish of 12th. But 1963 was a successful year for McQuagg running local short tracks. He won 37 of the

39 events he entered at Valdosta that year.

In 1965, McQuagg made 15 starts in the NASCAR Grand National Division (later to be renamed the Winston Cup Series) driving James Thomas’s No. 71 Ford at Riverside, Betty Lilliy’s No. 24 Ford in 10 events, Bob Cooper’s No. 60 Ford at Atlanta, and Kenny Myler’s No. 06 Ford at North Wilkesboro and Dog Track Speedway, Moyock, North Carolina. He recorded a 3rd place finish at Bristol recording 2 top-5s, 10 top-10s, and winning the NASCAR Grand National Division Rookie of the Year title. In 1966, McQuagg began driving Ray Nichels’ No. 98 Dodge in the NASCAR Grand National Division making 16 starts and won the Firecracker 400 at Daytona and received the $13,500 winning purse.

In 1967, McQuagg drove Bud Moore’s No. 15 Mercury, Don Robertson’s No. 25 Ford, J. D. Bracken’s No. 2 Chevrolet, Nord Krauskopf’s No. 37 K&K Insurance Dodge, and Cotton Owen’s No. 6 Dodge making 15 starts in the 49 event season recording 3 top-5s and 3 top-10s. McQuagg drove Krauskopf’s No. 37 K&K Insurance Dodge in 3 Grand National events in 1968 scoring a 9th at Atlanta, and he drove A. J. King’s No. 1 Dodge in two events. In 1969, McQuagg made 3 starts in Bill Ellis’s No. 14 Plymouth finishing 8th at Langley Field Speedway, Hampton, Virginia.

In the late 1960s, McQuagg was hustling to race at Valdosta, Georgia, Jacksonville, Florida, and then get to Atlanta for the Sunday night feature race. He eventually elected to get his pilot’s license to ease the strain. After being injured in a racing crash in 1969, McQuagg decided to accept a position as a fulltime pilot. In 1970, he became the company pilot for the W. C. Bradly Co. in Columbus, Georgia.

After a 4 year absence, McQuagg returned to NASCAR Winston Cup Series in

1974 driving Hoss Ellignton’s No. 28 Pylon Wiper Blades Chevrolet in 3 events. He finished 7th in the Rebel 450 at Darlington and 8th in the Winston 500 at Talladega.

In 8 years of competing in the NASCAR Winston Cup ranks, McQuagg garnered

62 starts, 1 win, 9 top-5s, and 21 top-10s. He retired as a corporate pilot in 1997 after 27 years.

from SpeedwayMedia.com

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR 1965

Sam McQuagg won the Nascar Winston Cup Rookie of the year in 1965 with just 15 starts where he finished with 2 top fives and 5 top tens in a car owned by Betty Lilly. His total winnings were $10,555.

MOVIE STAR? Appeared in TINY LUND: HARD CHARGER!

A documentary that showcased the stock car driving career of Dewayne
"Tiny" Lund featuring some of the racing greats, Darel Dieringer,
Jim Hurtibuise, Dick Hutcherson, James Hylton, Bobby Isaac,
Ned Jarrett, Junior Johnson,
Sam McQuagg, Marvin Panch, David
Pearson, Richard Petty, Curtis Turner and Cale Yarborough.
Most of the major tracks were featured.

Born: November 11, 1935
Birthplace: Columbus, Georgia
Awards: 1965 NASCAR Rookie of the Year
Inducted in the Georgia Automobile Racing Hall of Fame
NASCAR Cup Statistics
62 races run over 8 years
Best Cup Position: 15th - 1966 (Grand National)
First Race: 1962 Valdosta Speedway
Last Race: 1974 World 600 (Charlotte)
First Win: 1966 Firecracker 400 (Daytona)
Last Win: 1966 Firecracker 400 (Daytona)
Wins Top Tens Poles
1 21 0


Rev. James "Eke" Brown suggested the inclusion of Sam McQuagg. Rev. "Eke" asked, "Please add Sam McQuagg, the 1965 Rookie of the year, to your list of Legends. He is still alive and lives in Columbus, GA..

Brown also sent along a couple of personal photos given to him by Sam McQuagg. Here's the story:

Thanks for adding Sam to your site. I will contact Sam Jr. and see if they have the pictures you want. I will also pass along your email in case Sam wants to share a story or two. He's always got a great story to tell about the days he ran the Grand National circuit.

I have two pictures to add. They are personal pictures that came from Sam himself.

 

 

The first one is him with Eddie McDonald, Sr. It was taken after a win in Valdosta, Georgia. Sam and Eddie drove team cars. Sam drove the coupe pictured and Eddie drove a sedan. This picture was taken around 1960.

 

 

 

The second one is the #98 G&M Auto Parts special that he ran in the early 70's. The two boys pictures are his sons, "Little" Sam on the left and Mark on the right. Sam Jr. was crew chief and mechanic from the time he was 13 or 14. This picture was taken at East Alabama Motor Speedway in Phoenix City, Alabama. Sam ran this car on dirt and asphalt. In fact I remember watching him win a race in this car on dirt on a Friday night at Tri-County Speedway in Phoenix City, then win again on dirt at Lagrange Raceway in Lagrange, Georgia on Saturday night. He then went to Middle Georgia Raceway in Byron, Georgia and ran an All Pro race on Sunday afternoon against the likes of Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace, Dick Trickle, Bob Seneker, and Jody Ridley. He finished third, loaded up and went to Rome, Georgia for a dirt race Sunday night. He finished 2nd to Bud Lunsford. 
Two wins, a 2nd, and a 3rd, all within 72 hours of each other, with the same car! It was pretty impressive.

Thanks again, Eke
 

Sam McQuagg Used First Spoiler for Dodge Win
May 20, 2002



HOMESTEAD, Fla., - For a driver with only one NASCAR Grand National Series win, Sam McQuagg had a lot of firsts in his career. He used the first spoiler in NASCAR Grand National history to win the Firecracker 400 at Daytona International Speedway driving a fastback Dodge Charger in 1966. Rookie-of-the-Year Award winner in 1965, McQuagg was the first driver to bring a motorhome into the garage area at Daytona, and he was the first - and maybe only - driver to retire from racing and make a living as a commercial pilot, a skill he learned as a race car driver.

He is one of several Dodge drivers who won only one NASCAR Grand National Series race during their careers. The others are John Soares (5/30/54, Gardena, Calif.), Royce Haggerty (8/26/56, Portland, Ore.), and Jim Cook (9/11/60, Sacramento, Calif.). Haggerty and Cook also won a pole award each - 9/23/56, Portland, Ore., and 9/10/60, Sacramento, Calif., respectively.

McQuagg's career was perhaps the most noteworthy among that group because of his Rookie-of-the-Year Award and a crash with Cale Yarborough at Darlington in which Yarborough's car went over the guard rail, flipped a half-dozen times and ended up against a light pole at the edge of the parking lot. The spectacular crash was included in the ABC Wide World of Sports highlight reel for many years.

The wreck started when Yarborough tried to force his way past McQuagg, who had led the previous 31 laps. "Cale went down on the apron to try to get around me and his car came up the track and squeezed mine into the guardrail," he said. "I had been leading the Southern 500 a long time when that happened."

McQuagg got his start on the short tracks of South Georgia and north Florida. He had some success there and a woman by the name of Betty Lilly told him if he ever wanted to move up to the NASCAR Grand National Series, she would like to participate. Like most young drivers, McQuagg jumped at the opportunity and Mrs. Lilly sponsored him to the tune of about $45,000 - a princely sum in those days. McQuagg bought a car, painted "Lilly" on the trunk lid and started running the major races.

The first event for the No. 24 Betty Lilly Ford was the 1965 Daytona 500. McQuagg placed fifth in the second 100-mile qualifying race so he started 10th on the grid. He finished two laps behind the leader in eighth place, his first of five top-10 finishes that season. McQuagg also earned two top-five finishes in his 15 starts that year, beating many of the factory Fords in the process. His performance as an independent caught the eye of the factory supported Dodge teams and McQuagg was signed to drive the No. 98 Nichels Engineering Dodge Charger in 1966.

McQuagg finished 15th in the NASCAR Grand National Series championship standings that year with 16 starts, one win, four top-fives and seven top-10s. His winnings totaled $29,529.09. The highlight, of course, was winning the Firecracker 400 on July 4 at Daytona International Speedway.

In the early part of the season, Dodge drivers found that their aerodynamic fastback Chargers were very slippery but tended to "lift" at high speeds. "You would spin the tires at 180 mph going down the backstretch," said McQuagg. The solution was a small strip of metal along the trunk lid - the first spoiler in a NASCAR Grand National Series race.



"We tested spoilers at Daytona for about 30 days in June," said McQuagg. "When I won the race at Daytona in July, that was the first race that was ever run in NASCAR with a spoiler on the car. It was a little spoiler that was probably about an inch-and-a-half high and it was contoured, you know, to give it a little sweeping effect. It really worked, too. It made a lot of difference in that car; it kept the car from flying. That little spoiler disturbed the air enough that it kept it down."

McQuagg's Firecracker 400 win came in his 31st Grand National Series start. The Columbus, Ga., native was 29 years old at the time.

In 1967, McQuagg switched to the Dodges of Cotton Owens and ran 14 races. He scored three top-five finishes but unfortunately, the most notable aspect of the season was another spectacular crash at Darlington. During the 81st lap, McQuagg banged fenders with Dick Hutcherson, sending McQuagg's car into the concrete pit wall. The car flipped end-over-end and side-over-side about eight times before coming to a stop. A groggy McQuagg climbed out of the car, walked away and then collapsed. He was treated and released from a local hospital.

McQuagg continued to race for a time after the second big wreck at Darlington but found the sport getting too political for his taste. He scaled back to local short track racing and ultimately gave that up, too, when his new career as a pilot began to conflict with his racing schedule.

McQuagg had learned to fly as a stock car driver. He wanted to move quickly from race track to race track, so he decided to get a pilot's license. "We used to run in Jacksonville, Fla., on Sunday afternoons," explained McQuagg. "They always had an afternoon race on Sunday, like at 1 or 2 o'clock in the afternoon. When that race would be over, like at 3:30 or 4, we'd get in the car and try to get to Atlanta, Ga. in time to run a Peach Bowl Sunday night, which was starting like at 7:30 or 8. This would have been 1958 or 1959, along there.

"So I told my wife, 'I'm going go learn to fly an airplane, buy me an airplane, then I won't have to fool with these cars all the time.' I did that and started flying, and some of the drivers started traveling with me. Some drivers had airplanes earlier, but at that time I was about the only person that had one that was racing. We would even we go up to run in the northeast and I had a lot of the drivers that always rode in the airplane with me. It worked out real good and turned out to be a very good job after I retired from the racing."

McQuagg eventually ran the corporate flight department for the W.C. Bradley Co. of Columbus, Ga. The company had four airplanes and about a dozen pilots and mechanics. McQuagg retired only a few years ago.

Another innovation credited to McQuagg is the use of a motorhome at the track. He was the first driver to bring a motorhome into the paddock area at Daytona International Speedway. At first, there was resistance from NASCAR officials. McQuagg overcame that by having a talk with "Big Bill," NASCAR founder and Chairman Bill France Sr.

"I talked to Mr. France and told him what the deal was, that it was a place for the drivers, and my wife made sandwiches for everybody and everything. So he said we could, 'go tell Norris (competition director Freel) I said it was all right.' I don't remember if it was the 500 or the 400. I'm almost certain it would have been 1967, maybe 1968, right along there, but we brought it in and it worked out real well. And after that, you know what's happened since. The only difference is we had cheap Winnebagos and they got these luxury motorhomes. A lot of difference in the money."

McQuagg still watches the races on television and is happy to see the Dodges back in the thick of the battle.

"That brings back old memories," said McQuagg. "I was real happy to see them run up front again; I certainly was." He also admits to having a favorite among today's Dodge drivers. "I really like Ward Burton a lot. He is my kind of person. He just kinda tells you what he thinks about stuff and he's very honest about it. I think a lot of a fellow that does that, rather than the people that talk about their sponsors and, you know, how great their crew is. Ward kinda tells what he thinks about stuff and I respect that in a man."

McQuagg also admires the work of Ray Evernham. "He is, to me, kind of a soft-spoken hero," he explained. "Anybody that would shoulder the responsibility that he has and make it work as well as he has, has all the admiration in the world from me, I'll tell you. He's obviously a genius, a mechanical genius, to do the things he's done with the race cars, but the job that he took over is still the biggest one of all."
from the Bill Elliott News Website

Note: Page under construction. Please send stories or pictures for inclusion.

Sam McQuagg Grand National / Winston Cup DRIVER Statistics

Year Age Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn
1962 24 1 of 53 0 0 0 0 51 0 120 106 9.0 12.0
1964 26 5 of 62 0 0 0 0 653 0 1,700 49 21.6 19.4
1965 27 14 of 55 0 2 5 0 2458 31 10,555 24 11.8 17.9
1966 28 16 of 49 1 4 7 0 3575 175 29,529 15 8.8 17.6
1967 29 15 of 49 0 3 3 0 2244 11 10,045 36 10.0 21.9
1968 30 5 of 49 0 0 2 0 1045 5 4,960 54 12.8 15.6
1969 31 3 of 54 0 0 2 0 1056 0 2,625 70 11.0 13.0
1974 36 3 of 30 0 0 2 0 698 1 6,100 56 15.0 15.7
8 years 62 1 9 21 0 11780 223 65,634   11.5 18.3


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