By Joseph F. Dinneen
August 22, 1949- IF YOU’VE EVER had the urge to put your foot down on the accelerator of your car and keep it there on a straightaway to satisfy your curiosity about how much speed you actually can achieve and whether or not your speedometer at 100 is really a measure of the capabilities of your car, you can satisfy that yearning vicariously by watching somebody else do it in a stock car race. Stock car racing; that is ordinary cars of different makes taken right off the assembly line and “souped up” by speed increasing devices, is not exactly new. It has been going on for years as a method of testing out cars and matching their performances more or less privately. Its popularity is new, though.
Last Spring when the track at Norwood Arena was devoted to that purpose, stock car races drew about 4000 spectators. It has been drawing as many as 13,000 on recent Saturday nights, and as a sport it is developing an entirely new type of fan, its own driver heroes, experts and a mass of back-seat stock car racing drivers who know when the race is over just how the guys who came in Second and third could have won if only the critic had been behind the wheel. There is none of the terror or gore associated with stock car racing that characterizes automobile racing car meets. The drivers are well protected. They have roller bars over their heads that prevent them from being killed when cars overturn. Some of them are badly hurt, occasionally, it’s true, but the sport is immeasurably safer for the driver and entirely safe for the spectator.
The worst thing that can happen to a stock car racing driver is a “flip,” (when a car overturns.) This has happened 50 times so far this season, but only six drivers were taken to a hospital as a result, and out of the six, only three were held overnight for observation. The most serious injuries have been a gash on a driver’s arm and a broken tooth, hardly comparable with football, hockey or any other sport. Stock car drivers have excellent records for safe driving on highways. They reserve their speeding for tracks and would be embarrassed by the publicity attendant upon being picked up for speeding on highways.
Stock car racing drivers and fans have their own jargon. A “spin-out” means that a car has spun off the track. “Nerfing” is a term to describe when a driver skids his rear end in the direction of a car he is passing to force the car off the track. A “plowing” racer is one who will not stay “in the groove,” close to the inside edge of the track, but “rides high” on the Outside edge. A “stroker” is a driver who obviously is not trying hard enough to win his race. He blames his “piece of iron,” which describes a poor or faulty racing. A “lead foot” is the opposite of a stroker. He keeps his foot hard down on the accelerator and usually wins.
A driver ‘backs off” when he lets up on the gas pedal. “Roll bars” are the welded steel pipes which protect the driver, preventing him from bring crushed in a “flip,” and a *’pot” is the carburetor.