The Frontstretch: Three Brothers, Two Championships, and a Monkey: Tim Flock by Vito Pugliese -- Thursday October 18, 2007

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Three Brothers, Two Championships, and a Monkey: Tim Flock

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
Races: 187
Wins: 40
Top 5s: 102
Top 10s: 129
Poles: 38

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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Mike C
10/19/2007 08:37 AM
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I see you’re going to insist on using nextel cup debut . That’s only disrepecting the drivers of the past by lumping them in with an out of control marketing machine that is the current nascar . But it’s obviously your choice to make and i’ll shut up about it .
All of the Flock brothers were great talents. I was glad to see Tim remembered in later years , unlike most of the forgotten drivers of the past .

Vito Pugliese - FS Staff
10/19/2007 11:16 AM
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Mike –

I feel your pain, but for consistancy’s sake, it would look a little sloppy if we had to change it every time to Strictly Stock, Grand National, Winston Cup, or Nextel Cup. It’d be like saying the Patriots are going to win the AFL Championship enroute to the Super Bowl this year. Because let’s face it…they are.

An excellent video collection to pick up is “40 Years of Stock Car Racing” – hours of fantastic color footage of the pioneer drivers of the sport. There is some great footage of Junior Johnson and Tim Flock slinging these big unwieldy cars around a slalom course.

Don
10/19/2007 12:36 PM
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Thank you for bring to mind one of the great drivers of the past and pioneers of the sport. NASCAR wouldn’t be where it is today had it not been for folks like the banned-for-life Tim Flock. As I recall Darrell Waltrip’s tribute, he did run a special paint scheme as a tribute to Tim, but wasn’t allowed to carry the 300 number in the race. More insult to injury, but I guess “rules” are “rules.”

Vito Pugliese - FS Staff
10/19/2007 01:55 PM
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Darrell was to have run 300, but it was 17, for the owner/driver points….which would become a moot point not that long after.

Jim Petty
10/19/2007 09:45 PM
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Thanks for remembering Tim. Being only 53, I consider myself very lucky to have known both Tim Flock & Jim Roper. Jim told me that the 2nd Nascar race he entered was won by Tim Flock after Jim went through a fence to avoid a pile up that had the back straightaway blocked. Jim ended up with a 2×4 going into his radiator and Tim followed him through the fence twice(exiting the track and reentering the track) and won the race after Jim fell out from overheating. I believe that Jim told me that he only entered 2 Nascar races. Jim also told me that the story about him finding out about the first strictly stock race in a comic strip was true. My father and I own a 1952 Hudson Hornet Coupe that is decked out like Tim’s 1952 Championship Car. The Flock Family has been very supportive of our efforts. The project was started with Tim’s blessing but Tim never got to see it completed before he passed. It is truly an honor to be able to honor Tim Flock everytime we display the Hudson.

I’ve never been one that gets crazy about autographs but I have 3 that can’t be bought from me at any price and they are from Jim Roper, Tim Flock and Neil Bonnett. I probably gave away a couple of dozen Dale Earnhardt Sr. autographs before he joined his buddy Neil. I do wish that I had kept one of them but I’ll just have to settle for my photo of Dale and Tim Flock.

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