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As part of the season-long celebration of 60 Years of Modified Champions, 1956 NASCAR Modified titlist Red Farmer will be honored at the Made In America Whelen 300 on Saturday, Sept. 20 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
Farmer, a member of the famed “Alabama Gang,” captured the 1956 NASCAR Modified championship by a 118-point margin against Sam DiRusso.
“There were three of us, along with Fred Schweikert, close enough to win the championship, and the last race we ran was in Concord, North Carolina,” Farmer said. “In fact, I think Ralph Earnhardt was in that race in a Sportsman car, and we both got our championships in that last race.”
Named one of “NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers” in 1998, Farmer has had a checkered racing career that, now in his mid-70’s, still continues today. Along with NASCAR, Farmer is celebrating his own 60-year anniversary of racing in 2008.
A resident of Hueytown, Ala., Farmer still competes on a part-time basis in dirt Late Models at Talladega Short Track and other regional venues. He’s even wheeled against some of today’s brightest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars each of the last four years in Tony Stewart’s Prelude to the Dream race at Eldora Speedway.
Originally from Hialeah, Fla., Farmer started his racing career in 1946. A competitor for many years in the NASCAR Modified Division and NASCAR Nationwide Series (then known as Sportsman), Farmer found Victory Lane on numerous occasions. In addition to his 1956 NASCAR Modified championship, Farmer won three-consecutive NASCAR Nationwide Series titles from 1969-71.
Farmer also made 36 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (then known as Grand National), starts from 1953-75. His last appearance in one of NASCAR’s national divisions came in 1992 with two starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Always a favorite at the track, Farmer was named the NASCAR Modified Most Popular Driver in 1968 and was a four-time winner of the award in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Farmer is a member of the inaugural class of the Talladega-Texaco Walk of Fame in 1998 along with fellow “Alabama Gang” members Bobby and Donnie Allison and Neil Bonnett and is also a member of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Farmer has fond memories of racing at Martinsville against drivers such as Sonny Hutchins, Ray Hendrick, Emanuel Zervakis and Glen Wood.
“I look forward to coming back up there [Martinsville] to see the track, I haven’t been there in so many years and there’s been so many changes to it,” Farmer said. “Everybody used to ask me how to get around Martinsville, and I’d tell them that you need a dragster with air brakes.”
In addition to honoring Farmer’s 1956 Modified title and career accomplishments, NASCAR will also recognize a pair of champions that are no longer with us; Eddie Crouse and Joe Weatherly.
Crouse, who made a name for himself at South Boston Speedway, earned back-to-back NASCAR Modified national titles in 1962 and 1963. From Glen Allen, Va., Crouse won 13 of 77 races and finished second 11 times while competing throughout the eastern seaboard and finished 1,072 points ahead of Ed Flemke Sr. for his first title in 1962. He earned his second title in a row by distancing himself from runner-up Runt Harris by 1,172 points with eight feature wins, seven runner-ups and a host of top-fives in 58 races during his 1963 title run. Crouse, who was inducted in the Virginia Motorsports Hall of Fame earlier this year, passed away in 2004 at the age of 78.
Weatherly, who gained fame as a two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, earned his first NASCAR title in the Modified division in 1953. After finishing second to Frankie Schneider in the national title chase the previous year, Weatherly returned the favor in 1953 as he finished 976 points ahead of Schneider. His 1953 title featured track championships at Royall Speedway in Richmond, Va., and Princess Anne Speedway in Norfolk, Va.
A native of Norfolk, Va., Weatherly captured 25 wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series prior to his death in 1964 at the age of 41. Weatherly, who was first a motorcycle racer before moving to cars, also compiled 12 wins in NASCAR’s Convertible Division. He is a member of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and was named one of “NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers.”
The Made In American Whelen 300 will be the 13th of 16 races on the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule. A combination race with the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, the green flag is set to drop in Martinsville on Saturday, Sept. 20 and 3:30 p.m. For ticket information please visit Martinsville’s official Web site.