Driven to the Past · Vito Pugliese · Thursday October 18, 2007
Name: Julius Timothy "Tim" Flock
Birthdate: May 11th, 1924
Death: March 31st, 1998
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Nextel Cup Debut: Charlotte Speedway (.750 mile dirt track) June 19th, 1949
Top 5s: 102
Top 10s: 129
Career highlights: One of the early pioneers of the sport: finished fifth in the first NASCAR race held, a Strictly-Stock event at the Charlotte Speedway dirt track in 1949; finished 8th in NASCAR's first official full season. A two-time series champion; set the record for poles in a season in 1955 with 19. Held record for most wins in a season with 18 in 1955 until Richard Petty broke it with 27 wins in 1967. Winner of the Daytona Beach race in 1955; regarded as the best Beach Course driver of all time. Winner of the only sports-car race in NASCAR history in 1955. 21.2% winning percentage is the best in NASCAR history. Ranks twelfth on all time win list.
Tim Flock was one of the legendary personalities of the sport, along with the likes of his brother Fonty, Curtis Turner, and Fireball Roberts. He was a hell-raiser straight from the mold of the drivers of yesteryear, a far cry from the spit-polished corporate spokesmen of today. His father was a bicycle racer who held the distinction of owning the first car in Fort Payne, Alabama. Tim Flock saw his first race in 1937, and became hooked. His brothers Bob, Fonty, and Carl wouldn't let him drive, so he got behind the wheel of a taxicab in Atlanta. He also worked as a bellhop and a fireman. Tim's sister Ethel and his brother-in-law helped get him into racing in 1948, driving modifieds.
Flock ran the first full official season in NASCAR in 1949, running in its first race at the old Charlotte Speedway, a .750-mile dirt track. He finished fifth in the event to winner Jim Roper, who led all but three laps of the 200-lap event; his brother Fonty was second. The next event was the Daytona Beach event, with half of the race being actually run on the beach itself. Flock finished second to Red Byron, but took the checkers just under two minutes behind. His first win would come a year later at Charlotte, where he would lead 153 of 200 laps, driving a Lincoln.
Flock would end the 1951 season third in points, and in 1952, he won his first of two NASCAR Championships, and he did so flipped over on his roof in the final race of the season. He would win eight races that season in the No. 91 Hudson Hornet. 1955 would see him rack up an amazing 18 wins in Carl Keikhaefer's Chrysler 300-Cs; a record that stood until 1967 when Richard Petty won 27 races. For his second championship in three years, Tim Flock would take home a whopping $5,000. In 1953, he earned all of $3,000 for his efforts.
That might buy you a couple sets of tires today.
In 1953, Flock decided to take on a teammate of sorts. Long before Tony Stewart ever considered acquiring a monkey, there was Jocko Flocko - a Rhesus monkey that rode as a co-pilot with Flock as part of a publicity stunt. Jocko had a specially designed seat, and was present for a win at Hickory, NC that season. Jocko, however, would have a short-lived career after his first career victory. Back then the teams would install a trap door that could be pulled open to check tire wear. When Tim pulled the chain to check the tire wear, Jocko opted for a second opinion, and stuck his head through the trap door. The monkey went bananas, and began jumping all over Tim, choking him, clawing, and scurrying around. Tim was forced to pit to dispatch of his primate pilot. He was relegated to a third place finish thanks to Jocko's actions.
Tim Flock passed away after a lengthy battle with lung and liver cancer on March 31st, 1998. During that year, Darrell Waltrip ran a special paint scheme in Flock’s honor at the spring Darlington race, a week before his passing. The car ran No. 300, a tribute to Tim and the championship-winning car he piloted in 1955. He was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association’s Hall of Fame and the State of Georgia Hall of Fame in 1972, the International Motor Sports Hall of Fame in 1991 and Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Court of Legends in 1994. Tim Flock attended every Motorsports Hall of Fame Induction ceremony until his death in 1998.
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