Grand National Scene
EDITOR'S NOTE: With his first column on the first full page of copy in the first issue of what was then officially known as Winston Cup Grand National Scene, publisher Robb Griggs laid the foundation for what would become one of the most successful publications in the sport's history. And what a ride it was ...
Beginning with this debut and continuing until the issue dated October 14, 1982, Grand National Scene featured essentially two covers. The "outside" cover was found on the right-hand side of a folded page. When unfolded and opened, Page 1 served as the "inside" cover.
By Robb Griggs
There are probably several people who question the wisdom of beginning another auto racing publication, but then there are many who question starting any type of new business these days.
But we feel that times are getting better (like racing), and we also feel that there is a definite need for a publication such as the one you are now reading. We can say this while also owning another racing publication, "Southern Auto Racing News." "S.A.R.N." is a· monthly magazine which primarily covers short-track racing in the Southeast, but it also contains full Winston Cup race reports.
However, the Grand National coverage in "S.A.R.N." is limited due to the type of publication it is, and this is the situation in every racing newspaper and magazine in the country. Some publications have a great deal of Grand National coverage but also throw in short-track events and visa versa, as with "S.A.R.N."
Winston Cup Grand National racing is easily the biggest, most competitive, and most popular of all forms of major motorsports, and while there are many excellent auto racing newspapers, there is usually something missing when it comes to Grand National races. We feel that feature stories and photographic coverage are the two areas that are most lacking, so "Southern Auto Racing News" has decided to attempt to remedy this situation.
If you are a dyed-in-thewool GN fan, or driver, car owner, etc., you know what we are talking about. What "Grand National Scene" is doing is trying to give you more info on the events, people and places along the Winston Cup trail. We have a great deal of hard work ahead of us as we try to cover 30 major events coast-to-coast, but we have a great deal of help from people like David Allio, Mike Slade, Dozier Mobley and Jimmy Todd with their ready cameras, the folks at Winston Sports, and the many capable PR men at the speedways along the circuit. Many of the stories and photographs you read and see will be the products of these people, and we will do our best to give credit where it is due.
Winston Cup Grand National racing is easily the biggest, most competitive, and most popular of all forms of major motorsports, and while there are many excellent auto racing newspapers, there is usually something missing when it comes to Grand National races. We feel that feature stories and photographic coverage are the two areas that are most lacking.
We hope you will join us by becoming one of our first regular readers by subscribing today. Between now and the end of May, you can take advantage of our special subscription offer of just $1,00 for a three-month trial subscription. This is just one of the two ways we are using to assure you that you are getting the news you want. If you decide to subscribe for six months ($5,00) or a full year ($10.00) and during that time you are not satisfied, you can just drop us a card or letter and we will refund the remaining portion of your subscription. With every six-month or yearly subscription to “WCGN Scene” we receive during May, we will also send a FREE sample copy of “S.A.R.N.,” now in its fifth year of publication.
In addition to the 30 GN races, we will also be bringing you coverage of the major superspeedway races for Sportsman and Modified cars in which GN drivers compete, in addition to as much coverage as is possible on the Winston West GN tour.
In each issue (we publish bi-weekly 25 times per year) this space will contain short takes of info, viewpoints, gossip from around the circuit, and with so much coming up, let’s get to some of it.
Five-time USAC stock car champion Butch Hartman has had a tough time of it so far this year but will give it another go at the “Winston 500” May 1 at Talladega.
The day before the GN race at Talladega, a 300-miler for Sportsman will be held, and among the entrants is 19-year-old Sterling Marlin, son of GN regular Coo Coo (Clifton). The veteran Marlin feels the time is right for his son, who relieved his Dad at Nashville last year and made a fine showing. Sterling will be driving a Chevrolet sponsored by Cunningham-Kelly.
Up Delaware way, Dover downs has scheduled a 50-mile Baby Grand race the day before its GN event. Another son of a GN driver will be in action. David Pearson’s son, Larry, will drive. A feature on the elder Pearson is on our schedule.
With Joe Whitlock going to Charlotte as the new PR director, DiGard Racing has hired former Florida TV newsman Brad Bosworth to handle the team’s publicity chores. DiGard, by the way, is in the process of moving its operation from Daytona to Charlotte.
We’ve all heard, by now, that famous CB hit song, “Convoy” haven’t we? Well, GN fan Hubert Moore of Marietta, Ga. put it to good use. He and his local CB club have organized an Atlanta to Talladega convoy for the April 30-May 1 weekend.
This could be the year for a Chevy victory at Talladega. The GM make has never scored a win at the world’s fastest track, but with Cale Yarborough, Donnie Allison, Darrell Waltrip, A.J. Foyt, and Benny Parsons all in Chevies, the Talladega ill fortunes may end for Chevrolet. The $236,885 purse is the largest in Talladega history.
There has bene quiet a lot written and said lately about the number of Chevies in the GN fields. Some folks feel that NASCAR has favored the GM products in recent years. At the other end fo the scale (short-track racing), the story is the same, with some tracks having nothing but Chevies in the pits each week. According to people who know more than we, the reason is simple – money! It takes a lot less money to build and maintain a Chevy mill than any other make. We’ll be talking to a former Grand National chief mechanic about this situation and bring you the entire story in our next issue, so stay tuned.
After listening to President Carter’s energy message, we gave some serious thoughts as to how all this will affect stock car racing. We definitely feel the handwriting is on the wall as far as drag racing goes, but we’ll hold our thoughts on oval tracks until all comments are in. We do sort of wonder if our President has spoken with Smokey Yunick on the energy subject, as that is one of Smokey’s primary interests these days.
What "Grand National Scene" is doing is trying to give you more info on the events, people and places along the Winston Cup trail. We have a great deal of hard work ahead of us as we try to cover 30 major events coast-to-coast, but we have a great deal of help from people like David Allio, Mike Slade, Dozier Mobley and Jimmy Todd with their ready cameras, the folks at Winston Sports, and the many capable PR men at the speedways along the circuit.
David Pearson admitted recently that 10 years ago he would have driven the Wood Brothers’ Mercury for nothing, just to have driven it. He went on to say that racing wasn’t as much fun as it was a decade back, but that any time you’re winning, it’s still fun.
On the other end of the pack, independent Frank Warren says he would like to drive the cars of Pearson and Richard Petty just one time. He feels that he and a lot of other members of his rank would be competitive in such cars.
Lennie Pond will drive in a number of selected GN events this season, but will also race some Sportsman events. He will also be “driver of the day” at Charlotte for the May 28 Modified race, an event in which he will compete.
A short track name that may ring a bell is that of Wayne Niedecken of Pensacola, Fla. He is a 23-year veteran of the bull rings and is known as the “Professor” to his many fans and to his competitors. He is also known for building his own equipment, equipment which has a reputation for not only quickness, but reliability. His son, Wayne Jr., has been building a name for himself lately, and last year, Wayne Sr. turned the faster of their two cars over to Jr. The kid has been burning them up since and the pair have announced plans for trying the GN circuit with Jr. at the wheel. No definite word as yet as to when the debut will be made, but it is hoped to be this year. The last WCGN driver from the Gulf Coast area is reigning rookie champ, Skip Manning.
The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Dave Marcis, who left the Harry Hyde team for the Roger Penske Mercury, is now running as an independent.
His current arrangement is part-time only and with a Monte Carlo “borrowed” from the Penske shops. It seems the Cam2 sponsorship was for 10 races in 1977, and for now, only four remain on the contract. Penske will be choosing these four races, and meanwhile, Marcis is driving to maintain his point standings.
If the Penske team does well in some upcoming races, Cam2 may extend the contract and go for the national championship. While all parties involved are walking softly, one must wonder just how Marcis does feel. Bobby Allison failed to win last season in the Penske car, and Dave left a winning team for Allison’s vacated seat.
Bruce Hill, 1975 GN “Rookie-of-the-Year,” has been hired by Johnny Ray to campaign his Chevy for the remainder of the year.
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