The Frontstretch: Driven to the Past: Rivalries... by John Potts -- Thursday March 25, 2010

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Driven to the Past: Rivalries...

John Potts · Thursday March 25, 2010

 

Seems like we’ve always had rivalries in motorsports. Even drag racing had
Don Garlits and Shirley Muldowney. They were big rivals, but drag racers don’t
rub fenders all that often. At least not on purpose.

I’m not going to go back into the history of NASCAR racing and dredge up any
of those old tales. Everybody’s heard most of them about Petty & Pearson,
Waltrip and Yarborough, Petty and Allison, etc. I’d rather talk about one I was
there to watch.

Benny Parsons and Les Snow were two of the fiercest competitors I ever saw
on the short tracks. I don’t think I ever heard an uncivil word between them,
and they were even friendly most of the time. Until they buckled into those
race cars.

Everybody knows what a class individual Benny was, and those who remember
Les will recall that he was a little rougher around the edges. Don’t get me
wrong, ol’ BP was just as tough as he had to be on the race track, but he had a
different image.

Part of Snow’s problem might have been that he looked a lot like a bulldog
as well as driving like one.

I mentioned the crash in the first ARCA Salem 500, when a crew member
relieving Benny ended up crashing because Snow unlapped himself once, and Benny was all the while holding up the “EZ” sign on the blackboard. There was just so much competition between those two crews that the guy couldn’t bear to watch the blue and white No. 6 Plymouth go past him.

Benny Parsons was a gentleman off the track, but on it he was involved in one of the fiercest rivalries ARCA has ever seen.

There’s another aspect of this I don’t know for a fact, because nobody but
Benny ever mentioned it to me.

Apparently, there was quite a bit of rivalry between the Chrysler drivers
during those late 1960s in ARCA. We had Ramo Stott and Les in Plymouths, with
Iggy Katona, Andy Hampton, and Bobby Watson in Dodges, to name a few.

Over a meal one day I mentioned that the odds didn’t seem to favor Benny.

He responded by saying, “Naw, it ain’t that bad. I really only have to race
them one at a time. Besides, any one of those four would rather see me win than
for one of the other Mopars to beat him.”

Benny explained that the factory help that was coming down to all four may
have been responsible. Each of those drivers may have felt that being second or
third behind one or more other Chrysler products might cost him some assistance.

I don’t know. That was just BP’s opinion, and he usually had a good reason
for whatever he said.

Anyway, one of the best races in that rivalry took place one Sunday
afternoon at Dayton, another of those banked half-miles built originally by
Frank Funk (Salem and Winchester were the others) that had a reputation for
taking no prisoners.

Parsons and Snow were battling for the lead, and there was a lot of trading
paint going on.

As an aside, this was the same year that John Marcum said at a driver’s
meeting one day that if he saw any rough driving, he was going to signal me to
black flag the offender and bring him in to talk to him.

When Snow said, “What are we gonna talk about,” John said, “About five
laps.”

This particular day, there didn’t seem to be anyplace to put the blame.
When I first saw all the rubbin’ and racin’, they were both doing their share.

I glanced over at John in the tower and he sort of shrugged his shoulders as
if to say he figured they’d settle it among themselves sooner or later.

They did. Benny finally got an advantage coming off the second turn, and
got in front. The next lap, Snow dropped down low and stuck his right front up
against Parson’s left rear and spun him. Hard. Benny ended up in the guard
rail and out of the race. The photo accompanying this column shows the result
of the tap.

That was a little too much for Marcum. He walked out to the front of the
tower and looked at me, then pointed at Les the next time he came down the front
straightaway.

I dropped the black flag on him, and it only took two laps for Les to pull
into the pit area, where John was waiting. The conversation between them didn’t
seem too animated, and after a lap or two John pointed back toward the track.
Les didn’t go back out, however, since there were only a few laps left by this
time in the 100-lap race.

If my memory is correct (and there’s no guarantee of this), Iggy won that
race.

John told me later that he felt we handled it pretty well, and that Les
wasn’t really upset.

I wasn’t too sure of that when I saw Les coming over while I was putting the
flags away.

“Hey, I’ve got a question, Potts.”

I told him to go ahead with it.

“How come you didn’t black flag Benny?”

“Well, Les, he wasn’t causing any trouble at that point. The car was on a
wrecker.”

Contact John Potts

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Old Farmer
03/26/2010 02:08 AM
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Great story, as usual. Too bad things can’t, apparently, be so simple today. If so, racing would be better.

Don Wilbur
03/26/2010 03:43 PM
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John picture Salem-Winchester-Dayton ?

Don Wilbur
03/26/2010 03:52 PM
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SALEM SALEM I REMEMBER ONE AT DAYTON. I AM SURE YOU REMEMBER DAYTON 500 AT ELDORA THAT LESS WON

Jerry Wahl
03/27/2010 09:26 PM
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Another good story John and yes those 500’s were something else…Wonder how many remember the one at New Bremen that Tom Bowsher had it in the bag until he was held in the pits and the win went to someone else. Man Tom and his crew were hot looking for Marcum and Baltes.