Friday, January 12, 2018

Sit down, and hold onto your socks. Nascar claims no one won the Myers Brothers Memorial 250, Aug. 6, 1971, race at Bowman Gray, and they sure as hell ain't going to recognize it was Bobby Allison

To date, there have been 2,373 NASCAR Sprint Cup races contested since the series began competition on June 19, 1949 at Charlotte Speedway. However, NASCAR official records only recognize winners for 2,372 of those events. The lone Sprint Cup race without a NASCAR acknowledged winner is the 1971 Myers Brothers Memorial 250

Nascar has never acknowledged Bobby Allison’s untainted Cup Series victory at Winston-Salem, North Carolina Aug. 6, 1971, it's known as the Bowman Gray race.

Bowman Gray Stadium, the oldest NASCAR-sanctioned weekly short track in the sport. Bill France Sr. himself began promoting races here in 1949 with Alvin Hawkins, whose grandson, Gray Garrison, still runs the place.

Built as a football stadium in 1937 during the later years of the Depression, midget race cars took to the dirt quarter-mile oval ringing the playing field a decade later.

When a fly-by-night promoter skipped out on his promise to pay for the paving of the track, city fathers were in a fix, and that is when Bill France and Hawkins offered up a solution. They would pay for the paving in exchange for the rights to promote races on the grounds. The Hawkins family moved to Winston-Salem, the Frances to nearby Greensboro.

The football history of the stadium is also quite storied. Players such as Brian Piccolo, the 1964 ACC Player of the Year who led the nation in rushing and scoring, played his home games in Bowman Gray. Piccolo would later become famous as the teammate of Gale Sayers with the Chicago Bears, and the subject of the 1971 film Brian's Song.

Twenty-nine Grand National/Winston Cup events were run at Bowman Gray between 1958 and '71. Richard Petty became the first driver in NASCAR history to win 100 races when he went to Victory Lane at The Stadium on Aug. 22, 1969.

The last Cup race here is debated to this day due to Nascar management throwing the paperwork away, but Bobby Allison won on Aug. 6, 1971. In fact, a few days after the race, NASCAR issued its official news bulletin race report which documented Allison as the winner of the event.

Allison, who won three Daytona 500s, had seven starts at Bowman Gray, winning twice. His last race there was on Aug. 6, 1971, when he won the Grand National Race.

Between 1968 and 1971, NASCAR promoted Grand American races for what were known as pony cars. These Mustangs, Camaros, Cougars, Firebirds and Javelins generally ran standalone events but often were invited to help fill Grand National (now, Cup) grids.

 The first combined race was at Bowman Gray Stadium, and Allison’s Mustang won ahead of Richard Petty’s Plymouth, Jim Paschal’s Javelin, Buck Baker’s Firebird and Dave Marcis’ Camaro. Ten of the 29 entries were GA cars. Less than half the starting field remained after the demolition derby style racing where GN (big heavy cars) drivers took out their frustrations against the faster, lighter, more nimble and more likely to win odds on favorites the GA cars (Mustangs, Camaros) which didn't have to pit for fuel and tires as often

Richard Petty is pretty darn honorable about it, though, he isn't putting up a fight to see that Allison get the recognition he earned, and deserves

Understandably, Petty was unhappy with the grid and the results. “I figured something like this would happen,” he said at the time. “They’ll probably win all these (combination) races. (Cup) racing isn’t supposed to be filled with Mustangs and Camaros.” Forty-six years later, he felt no different. “Bobby won, but shouldn’t have gotten credit for it,” he insisted at Daytona Beach in July. “The cars weren’t the same; those cars were too different. I shouldn’t have gotten credit, but Bobby shouldn’t have, either. That was a Cup race, and he wasn’t in a Cup car.”

NASCAR credits Allison with 84 victories. His Bowman Gray start and resulting top-five/top-10 finish are among his career stats—but not the victory. Inexplicably, Tiny Lund won two combination races later that season and both are on his career résumé. Another oddity: NASCAR shows Allison with 10 Cup victories in 1971, while another section of the same record book shows 11. Marcis feels Allison deserves credit for winning in a Mustang since Lund is credited for winning twice in a Camaro.

Darrell Waltrip and Allison are tied for fourth all-time, but getting Bowman Gray on Allison’s résumé would move him past Waltrip, 85-84. That alone would give the 80-year-old Hall of Famer immeasurable joy for the rest of his days.
NASCAR historian Buz McKim is also at a loss to explain what happened, calling it “one tough situation.” He said that a since-deceased NASCAR executive once told him Allison’s car had been disqualified several days after the race. “But that’s as much as he’d say,” McKim said. (FYI: There’s no evidence supporting the late executive’s claim. Also, cars back then were inspected on the spot; if the Mustang was legal that Saturday night, it wouldn’t have been disqualified later.)

“This may be one that will never be settled. ... It’s still the only NASCAR race without an official winner,” McKim said.

The NASCAR HOF doesn't count the win and pole he got in the Mustang toward his official statistics; however, they do count those races toward his official number of Cup races. Those races count as starts but there are no starting or finishing positions attributed to them. also does not list the Aug 6, 1971 race as a win for Petty

So why, does Nascar have no trouble giving wins to the cheats in the recent season?

Joey Logano was busted after winning at Richmond in May, Denny Hamlin after winning the Cup and Xfinity races at Darlington in September,
Chase Elliott after finishing second in the Playoff opener near Chicago in September
and Clint Bowyer after finishing third in the Playoff race at Martinsville in October.

 Despite the rules violations, those finishes remain official because NASCAR simply doesn’t vacate checkered-flag results.

That’s why Richard Petty’s 1983 victory at Charlotte — the 198th of his untouchable 200 — remains official despite his car’s oversized engine and illegal tires.

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