HARRISBURG, N.C. – In response to our inquiry in last month’s column concerning racers named Race, we received the following email from longtime SPEED SPORT reader and ARCA President Ron Drager.
“Keith, we have a third-generation ARCA Figure-8 driver at Flat Rock Speedway whose given name is Race Loving.”
We’ve come across several unique names during our many years of writing about this sport, and Race Loving easily rockets to the top of our list, displacing Christi Passmore, Lake Speed and Sting Ray Robb.
Frank Loving started the family tradition of figure-8 racing and his son, Robbie, is a multi-time ARCA Figure-8 champion with a long list of feature victories. Robbie’s son, Race, began competing when he was a teenager.
■ As a student of auto-racing history, it’s not unusual when a significant change sends us into research mode. Such was the case when officials of Legacy Motor Club revealed the team’s move to Toyota for the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season and beyond.
Erik Jones will drive the No. 43 Toyota while Noah Gragson will wheel the No. 42 entry.
We discovered that when Jones starts the 2024 Daytona 500, his Toyota will be the 11th different make to have carried No. 43, the NASCAR Cup Series’ most iconic number. The others were Pontiac, Dodge, Plymouth, Ford, Chevrolet, Buick, Oldsmobile, Mercury, Hudson and Nash.
On Sept. 11, 1949, Jack Russell, of Erie, Pa., used No. 43 on the 1948 Ford he drove at Pennsylvania’s Langhorne Speedway. It was the new NASCAR series’ fourth race and Russell was the first to utilize No. 43. He finished 42nd in a field of 45 cars.
Long associated with Petty Enterprises, the legendary team first used No. 43 on the Dodge Bob Welborn drove to an 11th-place finish in a 1954 race at Florida’s Palm Beach Speedway.
The first time Richard Petty wheeled a NASCAR Cup Series car with No. 43 it was an Oldsmobile. That start came on Feb. 22, 1959, when Petty finished 57th in the inaugural Daytona 500, which was won by his father, Lee Petty, in the No. 42 Olds.
■ Enough is enough. How many people does Ross Chastain have to wreck before we bring Jimmy Spencer out of retirement to kick his ass? Chastain apologizes profusely every time he does something stupid behind the wheel, but he’s developed a reputation that in an earlier era of NASCAR racing would have earned him either a broken nose or a one-way bus ticket back to his family’s watermelon farm in south Florida.
■ The sport recently lost a pair of true racers in Galen Fox and Drew Fornoro.
Fox, whose mechanical genius took him from the dirt tracks of southern Indiana to the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame, passed away at age 84.
His success came primarily in the USAC Silver Crown and sprint car ranks, but Fox’s time at Indianapolis Motor Speedway included guiding Gary Bettenhausen to a fifth-place finish in the 1987 Indy 500 and coaching Billy Vukovich III to rookie-of-the-year honors in 1988.
At 72 years old, Fornoro lost his battle with diabetes and chronic kidney disease. The longtime ironworker was a nine-time Northeastern Midget Ass’n champion, with the majority of his 85 NEMA victories coming aboard Gene Angelillo’s No. 45 “Dumo’s Desire” midget.
Fornoro and his wife, Anne, were married for nearly 50 years. She works as the publicist for A.J. Foyt Racing.
Drew Fornoro, his father Nick and his brother Nick Jr. are all members of the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame.
■ Four-time Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion Jimmy Owens’ autobiography – “The Newport Nightmare” – is now available and it details the popular racer’s rise from humble beginnings to become one of the nation’s most accomplished dirt-track drivers.
The resident of Newport, Tenn., pulls back the curtain to share the highs and lows of a career that has lasted more than three decades.
Owens teamed with longtime motorsports author Dave Argabright to produce the 280-page hardbound book and noted racer Mike Marlar penned the foreword.
Argabright, our longtime friend and SPEED SPORT colleague, admits there may only be another book or two in his writing future, so race fans don’t want to miss this latest effort.
Visit www.daveargabright.com to order a copy.
This story appeared in the May 31, 2023 edition of the SPEED SPORT Insider.