Fancy Footwork

SEMA News—February 2018

HERITAGE

By Drew Hardin

Photo Courtesy Pat Brollier, Petersen Publishing Company Archives

Fancy Footwork

  Fancy Footwork
   

The 1967 NASCAR season was dominated by Richard Petty and his Hemi-powered Plymouth Satellite—a potent combination that won 27 races and notched 35 top-five finishes in 48 starts that year. NASCAR’s 1966 champion, David Pearson, found himself struggling in 1967. He ran just a partial season and left Cotton Owens’ Dodge team after 10 races to drive Fords for Holman Moody.

In September 1967, several Petersen Publishing Company staffers traveled to Darlington Raceway in South Carolina for the Southern 500. Ray Brock, reporting on the race for Hot Rod magazine, said Petty “was never challenged after the first few laps.” By the time the race was over, he had a five-lap margin over the second-place car, Pearson’s number 17 Fairlane.

But Pearson wasn’t in the Ford for that second-place finish. Late in the race he got dirt in his right eye, a condition that got so bad he had to “call for relief,” wrote Brock. Cale Yarborough, whose Fairlane had blown its engine in just the third lap and had already changed into street clothes, was pressed into duty to fill in for Pearson.

So when Brock shot this photo of Pearson’s car in for a pit stop, it’s Yarborough behind the wheel, taking a drink while conferring with Glen Wood, of the famous Wood Brothers, pioneers of the quick pit stop. Why is Wood (and another member of his crew to his right) balanced so precariously?

“Six men are allowed over the wall on pit stops,” read Brock’s caption for this photo, which appeared in the November 1967 issue. From this angle a sixth man is out of the camera’s view at the right rear wheel, so to keep within the letter of the law, at least, “Wood has to keep one foot in legal territory as he talks to his driver.”

Pearson would finish the 1967 season with two wins and in seventh place in the overall standings. But in 1968, driving a new aerodynamic Ford Torino, he would come back to win the first of two back-to-back NASCAR championships.

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