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How Curtis Turner Roared Again After Being ‘Banned for Life’ by NASCAR in 1961

  • Curtis Turner was was banned for all times, together with Tim Flock, by NASCAR chairman and founder Invoice France Jr. in 1961 for making an attempt to prepare a driver’s union.
  • Turner had his ban lifted in 1965, not lengthy after the deaths of Joe Weatherly and Fireball Roberts.
  • Turner would ultimately be acknowledged as one of many sport’s 50 best drivers.

    If there ever was an instance of redemption and second probabilities earned in NASCAR, it was Curtis Morton Turner.

    The Floyd, Virginia, native was banned for all times, together with Tim Flock, by NASCAR chairman and founder Invoice France Jr. in 1961 for making an attempt to prepare a driver’s union (which finally failed miserably as nearly each driver selected to stay with NASCAR).

    Nevertheless, because of the deaths of two of NASCAR’s hottest drivers—and Turner’s closest mates—Joe Weatherly and Fireball Roberts, lower than 5 months aside in 1964, it prompted France to elevate the lifetime ban in opposition to Turner in 1965 (Flock was reinstated in 1966).

    How Curtis Turner Roared Again After Being ‘Banned for Life’ by NASCAR in 1961

    Curtis Turner vists the NASCAR workplaces Daytona Seashore within the early Fifties.

    RacingOneGetty Photos

    The layoff from NASCAR apparently didn’t damage Turner, as he gained his seventh race again within the sequence within the inaugural American 500 at North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham, North Carolina in September 1965.

    Turner would ultimately be acknowledged as one of many sport’s 50 best drivers in 1998 and was rightfully inducted into the NASCAR Corridor of Fame in 2016.

    Turner was virtually a NASCAR prototype, born right into a household of moonshiners, led by his father, Morton. Lengthy earlier than he may even qualify for a driver’s license, younger Curtis was transporting instances of his father’s “’shine” round Virginia. Legend has it that Turner was chased by police quite a few occasions all through the mountains of southwestern Virginia however was by no means caught, making him considerably of a neighborhood legend, a lot to the chagrin of police and “revenuers.”

    After carving out a profitable profession racing primarily in Virginia and North Carolina, Turner was amongst a choose few who have been invited to attend the formation of NASCAR on the Streamline Resort in Daytona Seashore, Fla. Turner took to racing in NASCAR like a duck to water, incomes 38 victories within the Convertible Division (in simply 4 seasons) and 17 within the Grand Nationwide Sequence.

    Turner drove for a lot of legendary groups together with Holman-Moody, Wooden Brothers and Smokey Yunick, and set a lot of data, together with successful 25 races in the identical 12 months and in the identical automotive (!!) in 1956, together with a triumph within the Southern 500 at Darlington.

    atlanta 500 atlanta international raceway nascar

    Mechanic Smokey Yunick, proper, helped Curtis Turner to develop into the primary NASCAR driver to achieve the 180 mph barrier.

    The Fanatic CommunityGetty Photos

    And in maybe one of the vital auspicious finishes in NASCAR historical past, Turner was red-flagged and earned the victory, despite the fact that he ran 19 much less laps than the scheduled 200-lap occasion at Asheville-Weaverville (N.C.) on Sept. 30, 1956 as a result of he was the one automotive nonetheless working on the finish.

    Turner was additionally one of many key members to design, assist finance and construct Charlotte Motor Speedway, which opened in 1960. Sadly, he and others misplaced their shares within the observe when it was pressured to accept chapter. However he managed to regain some shares and stays to today one of many few drivers who not solely drove, but in addition was a key racetrack operator.

    In 1968, he grew to become the primary NASCAR driver to seem on the quilt of Sports activities Illustrated.

    Sadly, tragedy struck Turner’s life because it did Weatherly and Roberts, solely as an alternative of on a racetrack, Turner was killed together with professional golfer Clarence King in an airplane crash close to Punxsutawney, Pa. on Oct. 4, 1970.

    Observe Autoweek correspondent Jerry Bonkowski on Twitter @JerryBonkowski

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