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Fans can meet racing legends in Mooresville

- thiggins@charlotteobserver.com
Friday, Jan. 13, 2012

Want to see what a racing family reunion is like? The Sixth Annual Legends Helping Legends event Feb. 4 in Mooresville is just the ticket.

Fans can meet former NASCAR champions Bobby Allison, Ned Jarrett, Rex White, L.D. Ottinger and Lloyd Dane plus Can-Am and Trans-Am title winner Elliott Forbes-Robinson.

Allison, Jarrett and White were long-ago champions in what is now NASCAR’s big-time Cup Series. Ottinger won crowns in what evolved into the Nationwide Series. And Dane captured titles in the NASCAR West Series.

These ex-driving stars and dozens of their peers, such as Harry Gant, Geoff Bodine, Donnie Allison, Tiger Tom Pistone, Jim Vandiver, Cecil Gordon, Little Bud Moore, Dink Widenhouse and Jimmy Hensley are scheduled to attend the event.

A special honoree this year will be Frances Flock, widow of the colorful Tim Flock, twice a champion in the top series.

Fans can get autographs, have memorabilia signed and pose for photos with the former drivers, crew chiefs, engine builders and team owners attending.

As always, the event will be held at the Memory Lane Museum, 769 River Highway, which also is known as Highway 150 West. The hours are 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and admission is $10.

Founded by museum owner Alex Beam, the Legends program benefits the medical fund of the Old Timers Racing Club. The proceeds help early motorsports veterans in need.

I’ve attended in four of the five preceding years and found the gatherings to be immensely enjoyable, like a grand old family get-together.

This despite the annual ribbing I receive from Widenhouse, a terrific dirt track racer whose battles with the late Ralph Earnhardt are readily remembered among many of those who witnessed them. Widenhouse doubts the accuracy of the fishing stories I’ve written.

The nerve!

If not for this event, I might not have met Dane, a delightful man who won his championships on the West Coast in the 1950s.

Lloyd is 84 now, but he is spry and his memory is amazing. He readily recounts races of long, long ago, including the second Southern 500 at Darlington in 1951. that's 60 years ago!

For fans, meeting men like Dane is akin to stepping into a time machine for a trip to an era when some drivers traveled to races in their personal cars and competed in them. If the machines weren’t destroyed or badly damaged, they then drove them home—sometimes all the way across the U.S.

One old-timer told me about crashing his family car on the storied Beach-And-Road Course at Daytona in the ‘50s. He had to take a bus home to New England.

His wife demanded to know where the car might be? Lying, the fellow said it had been lost in a hurricane.

She bought it. Sort of.

I can’t use his name because he’s fearful she might still learn the truth and get her rolling pin after all these decades.

It’s tales like this that are told when legends of stock car racing meet yearly in Mooresville to help their former rivals.

I hope to see you there.

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