I noticed today that NASCAR.com has a very thorough article up on the history of Watkins Glen. I highly recommend heading over there and reading it. Of course, that leaves me with a little less to write about so I thought I would take a glance at one of NASCAR's bookend years for Watkins Glen. There is a 20 year break in racing for NASCAR at the Glen. From 1965 until 1986 there were no races held at the track. So let us take a peek at 1965
In 1965, Marvin Panch won the last race at Watkins Glen and Ned Jarrett took home the championship. Fords dominated the tracks, but not for the reason that you might think. NASCAR, in order to address dangerous racing conditions, had limited the size of the engines which could be used in the cars. This mostly impacted the Chrysler Hemi engine, forcing the teams to take a serious step backwards from their engine advancements. Chrysler boycotted the 1965 season; they felt that the new regulation was "not consistant with racing's tradition of bringing the best and newest engineering equipment to the race track."
And indeed, it probably wasn't. However, it did force the factory teams to reevaluate the ways in which they created speed and power. Even Smokey thought that it would only hurt Chrysler at first, and not permanently. At the same time, Chevrolet had still not backed down from the No Racing policy. It seemed like after 1964's fast, exciting (and fatal) season, 1965 might turn out to be a snoozer. It wasn't of course, this is NASCAR after all.
An aside: There is an awesome photo in my "Bible" of Richard Petty in a Plymouth Barracuda, "43/jr. OUTLAWED" is painted across the side. I do wish that you all would go and get a copy of any of Greg Fielden's NASCAR History books. You don't know what you're missing!
The United States Auto Club, a rival sanctioning body, tried to lure drivers as well as factory backed teams by declaring that all cars and engines were welcome on their tracks. Considering that NASCAR had just reinstated Curtis Turner as a driver after four years of being banned from racing, no drivers were even tempted. Though Turner was originally banned "for life" Big Bill most likely thought that it would be an excellent diversion from the difficulties with the manufacturers if they brought back one of racing's brightest stars.
One last little tidbit about 1965. On Halloween of that year, NASCAR visited for the first time one of the best race tracks there is: North Carolina Motor Speedway, better known as The Rock hosted its first race. I love that track. Andy Hillenburg is a true racing hero for bringing her back to us. Go see a race there!
Speaking of New York (were we?) I'll be there next week. Maybe before I go, I'll put together a snapshot of Rockingham for you. That sounds fun, doesn't it?