Mooresville, NC – The CARS Tour will pay tribute to the history of auto racing when they return to Hickory Motor Speedway for the Throwback 276 presented by Hickory Soup Kitchen on August 5th. In a similar fashion to the Southern 500, over two dozen drivers will run special paint schemes that will honor the legends of NASCAR, including Dale Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace and Richard Petty. In addition plenty of short track drivers like Barry Beggarly, Dick Trickle, and Kelley Earnhardt Miller will be recognized as well.
Hickory Motor Speedway opened in 1951 as a half-mile dirt track, where Gwyn Staley won the very first race, and later the first track championship. The track was added to NASCAR’s Grand National Series in 1953, with Tim Flock winning the first Cup race at the track, and it would remain a part of the Cup Series schedule until the end of the 1971 season. Since then, many auto-racing divisions have held races at the legendary short track, including the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the ASA National Tour, but the track has been operating as one of the main stops of the CARS Tour since the series’ inception in 2015.
As part of the CARS Tour throwback weekend, the series will host six NASCAR legends who have been a part of Hickory’s long history as honorary guests for the Throwback 276. These guests will be two-time Cup series champion Ned Jarrett, former NASCAR driver Robert Pressley, 1985 Xfinity Series champion Jack Ingram, five-time Goody’s Dash Series champion Robert Huffman, former NASCAR crew chief Waddell Wilson and 18-time Cup series winner Harry Gant.
Ned Jarrett began his racing career in 1952 at Hickory, despite disapproval from his father at the time. Jarrett persisted with his racing career by using a pseudonym while driving for his brother-in-law’s team, and quickly became one of the track’s best drivers in the 1950s, which included a track championship in 1955. Jarrett would go on to have a successful Cup series career, scoring 50 wins, including one at Hickory, until he retired in 1965 as the Cup Series champion to become a NASCAR commentator and track promoter for Hickory.
Robert Pressley’s father, Bob Pressley, won two track championships at Hickory in 1972 and 1974, which helped start Robert’s auto racing career. Although Robert never won a track championship at Hickory like his father, he scored over 150 wins in various late model divisions, and won track championships at New Asheville Speedway and Greenville-Pickens Speedway. Pressley joined the NASCAR Xfinity Series as a regular in 1989, and finished his NASCAR career with 10 Xfinity victories and 2 Camping World Truck Series victories before retiring from the sport in 2005.
Jack Ingram got his auto-racing career started in the mid-1960s by racing at several short tracks along the east coast, where he ended up winning three consecutive Late Model Sportsman Division Championships from 1972 until 1974, as well as two track championships at Hickory in 1968 and 1971. Ingram’s success at Hickory carried over into the Busch Series, where eight of his 31 victories came at the historic short track, including his first and last career Busch Series victories. Ingram finished his career in 1991 with two Xfinity Series championships, and his accomplishments on the track earned him a place in the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2013.
Robert Huffman began racing at Hickory in 1987, and would go on to win 19 races and two track championships between 1988 and 1989. Huffman quickly moved up to the Goody’s Dash Series, where he scored 41 career victories and series championships in 1990, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2003. Three of Huffman’s Dash Series victories came at Hickory while he was driving the yellow #37 White House Apple Juice machine, which is the paint scheme that his son, Landon Huffman, will carry on his car to honor his father’s legacy at the legendary short track.
Prior to becoming a crew chief, Waddell Wilson got his start in auto racing by racing in various classes across Florida, but elected to retire in the early 1960s in order to focus on building engines. Wilson worked for the legendary Holman Moody for the next two decades, building engines that would go on to win 109 races, and earn 123 pole positions. Wilson shifted over to crew chief in 1979, beginning a career that saw him win 19 races, including three Daytona 500s, with a pedigree of drivers that included Buddy Baker, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough and Ricky Rudd.
In the 1960s, Harry Gant built a hobby class car with his friends to race at Hickory, taking turns behind the wheel before settling in as the team’s full-time driver. Gant won the track championship in 1969 and 1973, and would win over 300 Sportsman races across the United States before joining NASCAR full-time in 1979. Gant initially struggled to find success until he partnered with Hal Needham to driver the iconic #33 Skoal Bandit car. Gant acquired all 18 of his Cup Series victories with Needham, including four consecutive races in September of 1991, as well as scoring 21 Xfinity races before his career ended in 1996.
Amidst all of the legends being honored and all of the throwback schemes will be another chapter in the close points battles in the SLM Tour and LMSC Tour as the season enters its final four races. Cole Rouse extended his SLM points lead to 13 after Brandon Setzer had a mechanical failure in the closing stages of the Mid-Atlantic Classic. Layne Riggs failed to extend his points lead at Orange County, and will need to have a strong performance on Saturday if he wants to increase his five-point lead over Anthony Alfredo and 2014 Hickory track champion Josh Berry.
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-CARS Tour Press Release. Photo Credit: Speed51.com