The Ole Days
Martinsville Speedway & the first Multi-Car Teams
Multi-car teams are increasing on the NASCAR Winston cup circuit. But they are nothing new.
When Martinsville Speedway ran its first race on September 7, 1947, even before NASCAR was formed, it was a two-car team that swept first and second place.
Raymond Parks entered a potent team of Robert "Red" Byron and Bob Flock as Martinsville area residents got their first taste of big time stock car racing on what then was a dirt track.
"Those were Ford Coupes," said Parks, who lives in Atlanta, GA. "They were good cars and they were stock cars, strictly stock. The only safety about them was a chain on the door or maybe leather straps."
Byron, whose picture hangs on the wall at Martinsville Speedway, earned his place in history by winning the first race. Ironically, Flock was the dominator.
Flock led 48 laps of the 50-lap feature but radiator and overheating problems slowed him, enabling Byron to move past into glory.
The purse was a then hefty $2,000 and Parks’ drivers took home almost half of it with Byron winning $500 and Flock $375.
In comparison, dead last in the Hanes 500, when Martinsville celebrates its 50th anniversary on September 28, will be a minimum of $6,000 out of a million dollar-plus purse.
"In those days, I paid all of the expenses and split the purses 50-50 with the drivers," Parks said. "I kept the trophies."
Speedway founder H. Clay Earles, who only had 750 seats ready, had mixed emotions about his first venture. "We had a paying crowd of 6,013," he said. "but it was the dustiest place I’ve ever seen and I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me."