The Frontstretch: Potts' Shots: A Flagman's Tale ... Or Two by John Potts -- Thursday April 7, 2011

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Potts' Shots: A Flagman's Tale ... Or Two

John Potts · Thursday April 7, 2011

 

Before we get started, a big “Thanx” from the Potts’ Shots desk to all those who commented on our dissertation about Jack Bowsher last week. We got e-mails from a lot of people, including some of Jack’s family. We’re happy so many other folks miss him, too.

On to the Q&A…

Tom in Lafayette, Ind. writes in: Are you the John Potts that was the flagman at IRP in the 1970s?

Well, not exactly. There couldn’t have been two of us around at the time, but I did flag a few ASA races there. I wasn’t the flagman for the regular Friday night series, because if I wasn’t on the road with ASA, I was at the Fairgrounds Motor Speedway in Louisville.

John Austin: Can you tell me some more about the partying some of the drivers did that we don’t know about? I’ve heard a lot of the Curtis Turner and Smokey stuff. Dick Trickle comes to mind as I was a 12 or 13-year-old boy getting an autograph at Winchester, I remember him telling a woman that they got kicked out of the hotel bar.

Well, John, I only had a beer or two with Curtis when he ran a couple of ARCA races, but I can assure you that Dick Trickle was a true party animal in his younger days. He must not have needed any sleep at all. Usually, getting “kicked out” of a hotel bar meant being asked rather pointedly to leave when they were trying to close the place. I never really partied with Trickle. Oh, I tried. Many people tried. There’s a saying about Delma Cowart that he used to say he never won a race, but never lost a party. Well, Trickle won a LOT of races, but I don’t think he ever lost a party, either.

Gus Lewis wants to know if anybody has pictures of the old ASA Midwest 300 races from Salem. He also makes some very complimentary remarks about my flagging.

Gus, I appreciate the kind words. I’m sure there are a lot of photos out there bouncing around. This week, I’m including a couple I’ve found when researching for my (hopefully) soon to be released book, “Driven to the Past.”

One is the lineup for the final 100-lapper at the inaugural in 1972, which was the first ASA Circuit of Champions race. This is the one where Darrell Waltrip came from last position to take the lead in just over 40 laps, and we had to call it because of darkness at 50 laps.

The field gets ready to roll to the green at an ASA Circuit of Champions race held at Salem in 1972. Darrell Waltrip pulled a last-to-first charge in that one, victorious in the same year in which he also made his NASCAR Winston Cup debut.

Neal Sceva and Joe Ruttman battle it out for the lead at Salem in the 1970s. Sceva wound up the winner after both cars tangled going for the same piece of real estate.

The other photo shows Neal Sceva on the inside and Joe Ruttman on the outside in the wild finish from a few years later, which ended with both cars wrecked and Ruttman being penalized five laps for rough driving. Sceva was declared the winner.

Ronnie Bates in Waynesburg, Ky: was under the impression that Stan Fox died of injuries suffered in his Indy 500 crash in 1995, when he suffered critical injuries and never raced again. Now, he says, he learns that Stan died in a highway crash in New Zealand some years later.

Ronnie, that’s true. Stan was a friend, and he was really tough in a midget and loved the oval at Indianapolis Raceway Park. I don’t think he ever really recovered from the head injuries he suffered in that Indy crash. As I recall, he came back several times for a physical, but the doctors wouldn’t clear him to run the 500. That pretty well kept him from racing anywhere. He wasn’t bitter about it, and even joked about it. Once he walked into my office at IRP during May and said, “Potts, Dr. Bock still won’t clear me. I don’t think that’s right. I only bounced off the walls twice coming down this hallway.”

He was quite a guy, and another one I miss.

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