Hope you all had a great holiday season, whatever you celebrate. I turned 32 on Thursday, and am celebrating the first year of the The Driver Suit Blog. Ok, enough sappy stuff, on to this week’s column. I’m going to do things a little bit differently this week. This week’s article will be done in conjunction with another article I am writing for my other blog. DGF2099.com, both are about the same subject, trophies, but this article will be on racing trophies, whereas the other article will be on other trophies. Let’s get started.
For this week, we will focus on collecting trophies. Drivers race for two things, the love of the sport, and to win. Climbing out of the car in victory lane feels good, and being presented a trophy for winning feels even better. Interestingly, trophies and awards from NASCAR and other racing series are frequently finding their way into private collections, such as mine. It might seem odd that trophies make their way into private collections, but there are a myriad of reasons for this.
One reason for this is that after their racing career ends, drivers will sometimes need to make some money, and will sell them. Other times, they are sold to raise money for charity. Sometimes it is because they need more space. After a driver passes away, the family will sell off the trophies, because they don’t have the same meaning to the rest of the family. In any event, these artifacts are unique items to collect, and are as unique as the drivers who won them.
Drivers have been awarded everything from surfboards, wine bottles, and guitars, to grandfather clocks, and gas pumps. The grandfather clock is given out to winners at Martinsville was started in 1964. The story goes that track founder Henry Clay Earles was talking with Curtis Turner, and in the course of conversation, Turner mentioned he did not have the room for trophies, and had to give some away, so he decided to award a trophy with a legitimate function, and as luck would have it, Ridgeway Clocks had a factory 3 miles away from the track. Earles gave the first grandfather clock to Fred Lorenzen when he won the 1964 Old Dominion 500, and the rest is history.
Interestingly, giving trophies that had everyday functions is a lot more common than most people realize. This example is a silver footed tray. It is 21 inches long, and 17.5 inches wide. It looks as though it could have been used for a tea service or as a serving tray for food at a party. It was awarded to the winner of the Oilzum Motor Oil Trophy Race at Onteora Speedway in Olive New York. The name of the winner, and when the race was run has been lost to history. It has some scratches across the front, but for a trophy as old as it is, it is still in very good condition.
Award and function combine again in this 4 inch tall silver mug given to the winner of something called the SCCA Rallye on December 1, 1957. It has not fared as well as the tray, showing rust spots and discoloration.
Then again, there is something to be said for the traditional trophy. One driver who had a lot of them is Ernie Derr. Derr raced in IMCA or the International Motor Contest Association, which was founded in 1915, and is the oldest active auto racing sanctioning body in the United States. Derr has more victories and championships in IMCA than anyone else, having won a total of 328 wins and a staggering 12 IMCA championships. STP sponsored him for a number of years, and awarded him this STP Handicap trophy. It is 11 inches tall, with a winged wheel design, and a vintage STP logo decal, which is peeling off. Though the mirrored background around the STP decal is discolored, it is still in decent condition, though I have not been able to figure out what the STP Handicap is.
Races are won and lost on pit road, and having a great crew chief is key to winning. Pit crews are given trophies for helping their team win. Buddy Parrot was a NASCAR crew chief for 34 years, and helped Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, and Rusty Wallace. In 1996, he joined Roush Racing, as crew chief for Jeff Burton. Burton did not win a race in 1996, but Parrott was awarded this 1996 RCA Pit Strategy award. It is a Plexiglass hexagon, over a foot tall, and 3 inches wide, some of the lettering is engraved into the Plexiglass, other lettering is added with decals, which are slightly peeling off.
The reasons why collectors like these trophies in their collections is that a trophy represents a drivers true success. It is the same reason collectors collect championship rings in their favorite sport. The trophies themselves have stories behind them, they are uniquely designed, and are treasured by the drivers, though sometimes circumstances lead them to being sold or auctioned off. They are unique and interesting to collect. and are great conversation pieces.
We will continue this discussion next week…