Cheat'n In Nascar: 70's Style

William CorleyCorrespondent IOctober 21, 2009

TALLADEGA, AL - APRIL 26:  Ryan Newman, driver of the #39 Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet, leads a group of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 26, 2009 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)


I call it cheating, but BACK IN THE DAY it was called USING the rule book or BENDING the rules.

The year was 1974 and Nascar decided to choke the Hemi motors with a restrictor plate. That's right, Nascar was using a PLATE in the 70's.

Chrysler was giving the Petty's, Richard, his brother Maurice and his cousin Dale Inman all of the help they possibly could to make the 340 C.I. small block competitive.

Here came the UPSET team of all time, the Crawford Brothers who had won the 1973 Talladega 500 with Dick Brooks behind the wheel.

As defending champions, Peter Crawford (the engine builder) had a surprise for the Chrysler Teams. I attended Georgia Military Academy with Peter and he would spend his afternoons at Dyno Don Nicholson's shop at Nalley Chevrolet.

If the Petty's and Harry Hyde couldn't find any horsepower with the 340 and factory support, how was a small team from College Park, GA going to defend their championship with a choked down Hemi?

We arrived on Friday morning. They had some practice and then qualifying was later in the afternoon.

We towed the car with a twenty six foot ex U-Haul truck and trailer. That thing was a gas hog and I spent a couple of hours filling our two gas cans and then pouring them in the U-Haul truck.

Jimmy Crawford was driving the #22 Black and Gold Plymouth Road Runner. Nascar had seen enough of the Superbird's and Daytona's and Outlawed them before the 1973 season began.

Jimmy took the car out to qualify and ran 10 miles per hour faster than he had practiced.

Back then, there were ALL kinds of Rule Bending and some of it involved soaking the tires to get a better grip.

Nascar was on to this one, so every time a car qualified, Nascar would have you jack the car up and remove the tires. They would then put the car number and RF, RR, LF or LR and then Impound them.

Before we could even get the tires off, we were surrounded by ALL of the Chrysler teams. Maurice Petty and Harry Hyde were screaming to Bill Gazeaway that there was NO WAY we could be legal with the HEMI.

Gazeaway sided with the Chrysler teams and said we had to tear the engine down for Inspection. Jimmy told him to KISS HIS A__, and we left the track.

Talladega had a victory dinner for the defending champion on Friday night and Jimmy knew he wouldn't be racing on Sunday so he broke the news to Winston and Nascar that he and the current Miss Winston were Married.

Mrs. Crawford was fired on the spot because all of the Winston Girls were told NOT to fratinize with the drivers. The Pure OIL gals were known to party with the drivers BACK IN THE DAY, including the Blonde Bomb Shell Linda Vaughn.

We arrived back at the track Saturday morning and Nascar had loaded our car on it's trailer. We put it right against the fence of the garage area so all of the fans could see it.

On race day, we found that Nascar had towed the truck and trailer OUTSIDE the garage area.

To make a LONG story short, Peter had cast a new intake manifold and placed a nitros oxide bottle in it. The switch was under the dash board and the line ran thru the radiator hose to the manifold.

It cost him about $3,000 to make it and it never got to race.

This was Cheating BACK IN THE DAY!