The Frontstretch: That's History! NASCAR's Checkered (Flag) Past, One Story at a Time: Name Game by Amy Henderson -- Thursday March 24, 2005

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It all started as something totally different. I was looking for information on a couple of drivers in NASCAR’s extensive historical database when what really caught my eye were some of the names. For whatever reason, I love names anyway. I love playing with them, seeing which ones go together and which ones don’t, that sort of thing. So, instead of looking for whatever it was I’d come for, I started looking at names. Some names just have to belong to racers. Lake Speed and Nolan Swift, of course, named for the very thing they did best. How about Axel Anderson and Hooker Hood? Then there’s Chuck Shove, I wonder if he had a reputation for doing just that? Blackie Pitt never had to be reminded about where to go for fuel and tires. It’s likely Harry Leake hoped his tires didn’t. And as for Ken Klutz, did other drivers steer clear? Some are just great fun to say, like Fuzzy Anderson, Al Funderburk, Hully Bunn and Ken Goudermoat. The list goes on and the names just get better. I decided to take a closer look at a few of my favorite ones.

The first to catch my eye was Les Snow, because, frankly, that’s what I wish we had around here. Snow was an Illinois native who ran only three NASCAR races in the early 1950’s, posting a top ten finish. Snow’s real claim to fame was as an ARCA racer, where he claimed 34 victories. He also co-drove the 1952 Mexican Road race with early NASCAR star Marshall Teague.

Another one that jumped out was Frank Lies, because, well, that’s not just a name, it’s a sentence. I wonder if it was true, a-ha-ha. NASCAR credits lies with just one start, a Grand National (now Nextel Cup) race at Trenton in 1958 where he finished an inauspicious 34th. Race records show that an engine failure just 33 laps into the race ended Lies’ day in the sun prematurely. He hailed from Wichita, Kansas.

The great thing about all the names on the list is, there’s a story behind most of them waiting to be found. George Bush made five starts in the early 1950’s and three of them were top tens. No, not that George Bush. There’s also a Don Johnson listed with 1 start in 1954. He’s probably not as famous as the pastel-clad Don Johnson of that 80’s ode to extravagance, Miami Vice, but there he is. Ed Benedict sounds suspiciously like the name of a breakfast food. I wonder if he knew Earl Beer? Sometimes, the big names in racing aren’t the big names in racing. But that’s okay, they’re history too.

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