Prior to this Sunday’s historic Go Bowling 235 At The DAYTONA Road Course, the last time any form of NASCAR stock cars challenged the twists and turns of the iconic layout were from 1974-76 with the NASCAR Modified Division.
It marked three years of notable names from various forms of motorsports in hard competition, and it would put an exclamation point on years of stock cars on a road course at the “Birthplace of Speed,” Daytona Beach, Fla. Road Course racing started on the beach in 1936, then Big Bill France brought the NASCAR Cup Series to the sand and asphalt of A1A from 1949-58. Two years later, the new Daytona International Speedway’s tri-oval/road course featuring Compact Cars, and in the late 1960s and early 70s, the NASCAR Grand Touring and Grand American cars continued to showcase road course racing in Daytona.
NASCAR Modified racing, however, comprised of small stock cars with, as the series name states – modifications - was for the most part, short-track ventures in the northeast. Cars such as Chevrolet Camaros, Vegas and Monzas, along with Ford Pintos, AMC Gremlins and Hornets, were common, all with different visions from their owners on how those modifications could make their cars durable and fast.
Popular Modified driving champions like NASCAR Hall of Famers Jerry Cook and Richie Evans, along with ace Geoff Bodine were ready to go head-to-head down south with the likes of Bobby Allison, Harry Gant and others. When it was all said and done, Allison, the NASCAR Hall of Famer who won in just about every make of car ever created during his career, won two of the three races. Had it not been for a mechanical issue, he may have taken three straight.
“It was an exciting track,” Allison, a three-time DAYTONA 500 Champion, said recently about the DIS road course that measured 3.86 miles. “It had a few tight spots where you could take care of the brakes, but you had to shift in the right places and do all the road course things right. It was a fun deal.”
Allison won in 1974 piloting his Coca-Cola Chevrolet Camaro, holding off Tiny Lund. In ’75, on lap 21 of the 52-lap event (200 miles), he suffered engine woes and was 27th while Merv Treichler was the winner. In ’76, the event’s swansong, Allison, piloting a Hornet, beat Treichler to put his name in the history.
“The Camaro was one that was built out of my shop in Hueytown (Ala.),” said Allison, who also showed his road-course prowess in the NASCAR Cup Series by winning six events. “I had become fond of the road courses. I built that Hornet to Grand American (series) rules at the time. It was versatile enough that I could also run it in USAC races.”
For Sunday’s Go Bowling 235, Allison is jealous that he cannot make a return to the road course layout that he won in three times – the other came in ’72 during a NASCAR Grand American race.
“I think it’s going to be a good show, so good to me I may just come out of retirement….I wish…” joked Allison. “I think the modern Cup guys are really, really tuned to the road racing stuff. They will do a good job. The cars, the equipment is good. I think it will be a really fun thing to watch and a good race.”
A limited number of fans will get the opportunity to see the Go Bowling 235 At The DAYTONA Road Course, along with the Sunoco 159 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race, on Sunday, Aug. 16. Fans can get tickets, which start at $49 (both races included) for adults and $10 for kids 12 years old and younger, by visiting www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or calling 1-800-PIT-SHOP.
The weekend kicks off today with the General Tire 100 ARCA Menards Series at 5:00 p.m. ET (MAVTV) while the NASCAR Xfinity Series UNOH 188 is set for tomorrow (Saturday) at 3:00 p.m. ET (NBCSN).