Rules for Racing
Back in the sixties and seventies, my uncles, Fred and Don, were very much into stockcar racing. Fred owned Tri-Co Speedway, and Don, being the ace mechanic that he was, naturally raced cars. The track was roughly a 5/8th mile oval dirt track that was steeply inclined all the way round.
In the early days, the dirt track became so hard packed it was almost like concrete, although the cars still put a ton of dust in the air during each race. By the end of the night, everyone went home covered in that Carolina red clay dust that got into everything! In the latter years, the track was paved with asphalt, which was a major improvement. It seemed to help the cars run faster and cut down on “drifting” owing to the loose dirt.
As in any sport, there were rules to follow, like the maximum cubic inch displacement of the engines, or the car’s overall minimum and maximum weight, right down to the type of fuel that was used.
Tri-Co track rules limited fuel types to either regular or high-test, the same that anyone could buy at their local gas station. Otherwise, some drivers looking for an advantage would use aircraft grade fuel, which was a higher octane than gas from the pump, meaning it burned hotter, and helped the cars run faster.
One incident sticks out in my mind when a short-tempered driver confronted Don and accused him of using illegal fuel, probably owing to the way Don blew by the competition to an easy victory. Words were exchanged, and they nearly got into a fight right there in the in-field except that the pit crews stepped in to separate everyone.
The track officials took a sample from Don’s tank right on the spot, and after testing, declared that if it was any clearer you could drink it! Thus, no foul, and Don remained the winner of that particular race. No to brag, but my uncle Don was that good of a driver and mechanic that he quite often won on the local circuit where he raced. Both he and his mechanic, Lanky, could tune an engine like a Stradivarius to maximize performance.
Don drove a ‘68 Chevrolet Camaro running three wide slicks and one “normal” sized tire on the outside front right side. As Don explained, owing to the track’s incline, it caused a shift in the suspension and traction, which affected performance. So, they compensated by beefing up the suspension and running three slicks. However, since the front right tire didn’t carry as big a load, and to save weight, he ran a regular sized street tire. There were many rules and tricks to learn, but I got quite an education hanging out with a bunch of good ol’ country boys. And let’s face it, Carolina is nothing if not famous for stockcar racing!
As to rules, every race fan knows there are only two rules that really count: Drive fast; turn left.
Author Notes: Just sharing some memories from my childhood. I hope you enjoy.