Friday, August 1, 2014

The Inaugural Brickyard 400 Starting Field: Where Are They Now? Part 3

NOTE: no News & Notes this week...well, except this one

The biggest race of the modern Winston Cup-era took place on Saturday, August 6th, when 43 drivers became the first men to run stock cars around Indianapolis Motor Speedway in an official race.  The introduction of the Brickyard 400 arguably changed the course of racing history, from the winner (Jeff Gordon, who cemented his status as a "big-time race-winner") to the series (Nascar, which was now inarguably a national sport) to the track itself (IMS, which used the money from the 400 to bankroll the Indy Racing League the following year).  Over 20 years later, the starting field from that race have taken multiple paths--here's where they've led to so far:

In order of finishing position, with car # and sponsor in parenthesis

36. Hut Stricklin (23 Smokin' Joe's): A journeyman for his run in Cup, Stricklin was running for Travis Carter at the time.  Stricklin last raced in 2002, and has since opened up Stricklin Automotive, a garage in North Carolina.

Geoff Brabham (#07) getting
passed (and likely lapped)
by Ernie Irvan
37. Harry Gant (33 Skoal Bandit): "Handsome" Harry Gant was the last car running in the 1994 Brickyard 400.  After a successful Cup career with multiple wins, Harry "retired" to his working ranch in North Carolina, where he has also continued to support the Kyle Petty Charity Ride.

38. Geoff Brabham (07 Kmart): Arguably the most-unique driver to make the race, Brabham was an Australian best-known for his time in the IndyCar series.  Today, he works for the racing division of BMW Group Australia.

39. Geoff Bodine (7 Exide): A legend in the modified world, and a multiple-race winner in the Cup series, Indy was the site of Bodine's infamous spinout at the hands of his younger brother Brett.  Though the "family feud"'s origins are disputed, the two were essentially estranged for two years afterwards.  Geoff (who also went by Geoffrey) currently runs a Honda Powersports dealership in Florida.

40. Dale Jarrett (18 Interstate Batteries): Caught up in the Bodine Brothers' wreck in the 1994 Brickyard 400, Jarrett would go on to win twice at Indy, famously starting the tradition of the winning team "kissing the bricks" post-race.  A former Cup champion, Jarrett now works as an analyst for ESPN.
Dave Marcis pitting at Indy

41. Dave Marcis (71 Terramite): The longtime independent driver was on the downside of his career by the time Nascar made it to Indy.  Retiring after the 2002 Daytona 500, Marcis continues to work in the racing field, recently setting records in a specially-designed drag race stock car.

42. Mike Chase (58 Tyson Foods): Chase qualified for the Brickyard 400 from the Winston West Series--there were concerns that there wouldn't be enough teams attempting to qualify for the race (unfounded, as it turned out), and one provisional spot was reserved for the West series' points leader.  Chase raced for years afterwards, mostly in lower series, and currently works for Penske Racing behind-the-scenes as a fabricator.

43. Jimmy Spencer (27 McDonald's): It was a huge swing in fortunes for Jimmy--after winning the previous race at Daytona, "Mr. Excitement" finished last at Indy.  Spencer has gone on to a career in broadcasting, though he has never officially retired from racing.

DID NOT QUALIFY'S:  A Nascar-record 85 cars entered to run the inaugural Brickyard 400, meaning that 42 drivers--enough to fill an entire field at that time--were sent home.  Most of the field fell into one of three categories: Lowbuck Nascar/ARCA regulars, Winston West teams (remember, this was technically a combined event), and "one off" entries from Indy 500 regulars.  Here's a quick rundown (note--an * means that the driver did not make an official qualifying lap in either round):

Lowbuck Nascar Regulars:
Joe Ruttman
Dick Trickle
Randy LaJoie--currently operates racing seat company "The Joie of Racing"
Jim Sauter
Steve Grissom
Brad Teague's car during
Bob Brevak
Brad Teague
Mike Wallace--still competing in the Nationwide Series
Robert Pressley
Bob Schacht
Jerry O'Neil
Ken Bouchard--operates the "Drive to Victory Lane" racing school
Billy Standridge
Tim Steele
Jerry Hill--father of Timmy Hill
Andy Belmont
H.B. Bailey
Norm Benning--still competes in the Truck Series with his own team
Doug French
James Hylton--recently retired after a racing career spanning 7 decades
Loy Allen, Jr.
*Delma Cowart
*Kerry Teague
*Charlie Glotzbach--runs a truck sales business in Indiana, but arguably better-known in retirement for his horrific crash with Larry Pearson in a Bristol "legends of racing" race
Ben Hess

Logo of the Winston West Series
Winston West Drivers/Teams:
Rick Carelli--spotter for Kurt Busch
John Krebs
Jeff Davis
Ron Hornaday--still racing in the Truck Series, where he is a four-time champion
Scott Gaylord
Rich Woodland Jr.
Hershel McGriff--last race run was in 2012, after having a career that has spanned 8 decades
Wayne Jacks
Steve Sellers
Robert Sprague
Lance Wade
Jack Sellers
*P.J. Jones--the son of Parnelli Jones, the multi-faceted driver was entered in a Winston West car at the time.  Currently he is a part-time competitor in Stadium Super Trucks, as well as owner of PJ's Performance, a UTV dealer
*Butch Gilliland
*Joe Health

Davy Jones
Gary Bettenhausen--passed away in March 2014