Inaugural Talladega runner-up Jim Vandiver remembered

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Former NASCAR driver Jim Vandiver is being remembered after passing away Thursday in Charlotte, N.C.

Vandiver, of suburban Huntersville, died Thursday in a local hospital, where he had been since Monday after complaining of chest pains. He was 75.

Vandiver raced part-time on the NASCAR Grand National and Winston Cup circuits from 1968 through 1983. In 85 career starts, he had 19 top 10 finishes, including five top-five showings.

The most notable finish of Vandiver’s career was runner-up in the inaugural Talladega 500 on Sept. 14, 1969, at what was then called Alabama International Motor Speedway (now known as Talladega Superspeedway).

Several of NASCAR’s top drivers elected to bypass that race out of safety concerns that tires on the race cars could not sustain speeds closing on 200 mph, according to a story Friday by veteran motorsports writer Tom Higgins in the Charlotte Observer.

But Vandiver and a number of replacement drivers agreed to compete and the race went on as scheduled, with Vandiver, in a Dodge owned by legendary Raymond Fox, finishing second to race winner Richard Brickhouse.

Vandiver dominated that race, leading 13 times for 102 laps. Brickhouse took the lead with 10 laps to go and rolled to a seven-second advantage at the checkered flag, something that Vandiver never accepted, believing there was a scoring error due to the number of cautions in that race.

“I won that race,” Vandiver said, according to Higgins’ story. “I had Brickhouse down almost a lap.”

Tommy Vandiver told Higgins that his brother maintained that viewpoint for the rest of his life.

“If Jim was alive right now, he’d insist he won that Talladega race,” Tommy Vandiver told Higgins. “Jim and Ray Fox protested the finish, but it wasn’t upheld.

“It was tough to take, but on the other hand, through the years we had a lot of good times in racing and made some great life-long friends.”

Tommy Vandiver also related to Higgins a humorous incident involving himself and his brother during a Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in the 1970s.

A trio of sheriff’s deputies were waiting for Jim Vandiver after the race to hand him a summons in a civil matter once the race was over.

Late in the race, Tommy Vandiver held up a pit board with the word “LAW” written on it.

“As the race ended, Jim spun his car in Turn 3, hustled from the cockpit, scampered up the banking and disappeared over the rail.

He thus evaded the officers,” Higgins wrote.

“By the time the deputies realized what was going on, Jim was headed back home to Charlotte,” a laughing Tommy Vandiver remembered and told Higgins.

In addition to his brother, Jim Vandiver is survived by sons Emory and Rhett and daughters Shannon and Nicole Bryan, as well as a sister, Lillian Hoopaugh.

A viewing and service for Vandiver will take place Monday  afternoon at Huntersville United Methodist Church.

A private burial will take place at Northlake Memorial Gardens.

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Penalty report from Bristol Motor Speedway

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NASCAR has issued three fines to Cup Series crew chiefs for unsecured lug nuts following Saturday’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Paul Wolfe, crew chief on Brad Keselowski‘s No. 2 Ford, Alan Gustafson, crew chief on Chase Elliott‘s No. 9 Chevrolet and Michael Bugarewicz, crew chief on Clint Bowyer‘s No. 14 Ford, have each been fined $10,000 for having one unsecured lug nut.

Those fines are in addition to the points penalties against Tyler Reddick‘s Xfinity Series team (10 driver and owner points) for failing pre-qualifying inspection four times.

NASCAR also indefinitely suspended Bayley Currey for violating its substance abuse policy.

Michael McDowell to honor Jimmy Means with Darlington scheme

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Front Row Motorsports is changing things up on its No. 34 Ford for the Throwback Weekend at Darlington Raceway next week (6 p.m. Sept 1 on NBCSN).

After three years of using the same retro Love’s Travel Stops paint scheme, the team will show up in Darlington next weekend with Dockside Logistics as Michael McDowell‘s primary sponsor. With that sponsor comes a tribute to long-time NASCAR owner and former driver Jimmy Means.

McDowell’s car will be made to look like the No. 52 Alka-Seltzer Pontiac Means owned and drove part-time from 1989-91 in the Cup Series.

One of Means’ cars, which was driven by Mike Wallace, is located in Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s car graveyard.

More: Retro Rundown of Southern 500 paint schemes

Front Row Motorsports was originally known as Means-Jenkins Motorsports, based on a partnership between Means and current FRM team owner Bob Jenkins. Their relationship began with Jenkins sponsoring Means at Bristol with his local Taco Bell franchise, which led Jenkins to a partial ownership of Means’ race team. The team was active for one year before Jenkins separated and founded Front Row Motorsports.

“Throwback weekend at Darlington is one of my favorites of the whole year,” McDowell said in a press release. “It’s fun to recreate some of the most well-known paint schemes throughout the history of our sport. Our owner, Bob Jenkins, has always admired Jimmy Means, and the Alka-Seltzer car is definitely a favorite of his. I’m really excited that we can honor their friendship with our No. 34 Dockside Logistics Ford.”

Corey LaJoie to carry ‘Scooby Doo’ paint scheme at Martinsville

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Popular cartoon character Scooby Doo will be featured as the theme on Corey LaJoie’s No. 32 Go Fas Racing Ford Mustang for the First Data 500 on Oct. 27 at Martinsville Speedway.

Long-time team sponsor Keen Parts/ will transform the team’s usual paint scheme to what it’s calling “the Mystery Machine” for the Martinsville race, which will be four days before Halloween.

“Scooby Doo was my favorite cartoon growing up, so when Tom and TJ (team co-sponsors Tom and TJ Keen) asked what I wanted to do for Martinsville, there was no doubt that I wanted to be driving the Mystery Machine,” LaJoie said in a media release. “They always have really cool themes behind their Halloween-weekend schemes and I’m excited to be part of this one and thankful for all that they do for our team.”

For last year’s fall race at Martinsville the team and sponsor combined for a purple and black Peanuts scheme that featured Snoopy and quickly became a much-talked about fan favorite.

“We are super excited to present this paint scheme to Corey to run at Martinsville,” said lTJ Keen. “This cartoon was his favorite as a kid and I bet it still is today. We cannot thank the team enough for letting us do these schemes and we hope you fans will enjoy it.”

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Richard Childress resigns from National Rifle Association’s Board of Directors

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On Monday, Richard Childress submitted his resignation letter as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Rifle Association and a handful of the organization’s committees, NBC Sports has confirmed.

The resignation came two days after the owner of Richard Childress Racing helped give the command to start engines  for the Cup Series night race at Bristol Motor Speedway, which was co-sponsored by Bass Pro Shops and the NRA.

“At this time, it is necessary for me to fully focus on my businesses,” Childress said in his letter. “I owe that to my employees, our partners, my family, and myself. Since proudly agreeing to serve on the NRA Board, I have supported the organization and its important mission to preserve and protect our Constitutional rights. But when, as now, I am no longer able to be fully engaged in any commitment I have made, it becomes time for me to step down. I have reached that point in my ability to continue to serve the NRA. As such, I must resign.”

According to the Washington Post, Childress is the sixth member of the Board of Directors to resign since May. The Board of Directors totals more than 70 members.

Childress was elected as the NRA’s second vice president in 2015 and had also served as the first vice president until he stepped down in April of this year.

Childress will retain his NRA membership moving forward.