Saturday, January 17, 2015

Ate, Slept, Breathed And Dreamt Racing
24 Hours A Day

Although NASCAR Race Mom is a huge racing fan, she has never heard of NASCAR Hall of Fame 2015 Inductee Fred Lorenzen .

Lorenzen began full time participation in NASCAR at the age of 26 in 1961. He would dominate the sport for the next 6 years. During this time frame Fred became the sports all time superspeedway winner (12), the first driver in NASCAR history to win races at all five of the south’s original superspeedways (1966), the first driver to win $100,000 in a single season (1963), the first driver to win the same 500 mile race three years in a row (Atlanta-’62-’64), the first driver to win five consecutive major race starts (races of 250 miles or more) in 1964, and he remains the only driver to have ever won Martinsville four straight times.

The Elmhurst, Illinois, native never ran a complete season, as his Holman-Moody Ford team chose to only to compete in the schedule’s most prestigious events.

Nevertheless, from 1961 through 1967 he won twenty-six (26) times. He posted more victories than NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty (21) and David Pearson (eight). Lorenzen’s 16.46 career winning percentage ranks fifth all-time and highest among drivers without a NASCAR premier series championship.

His best season was 1963 when he finished with six wins, 21 top fives and 23 top 10s in 29 starts. Despite winning 26 races that season, he finished third in the standings.

Amazingly, Fred started just 16 races in 1964 but won eight times including five consecutive starts. During that stretch, he led 1,679 of the possible 1,953 laps, one of the most dominant runs in NASCAR history. A year later he won two of NASCAR’s major events – the Daytona 500 and World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Lorenzen retired after the 1967 season, but made a brief return in 1970-72.

“I quit way too early,” Lorenzen said in a 1985 interview with Circle Track magazine. “I was good for another five or six years. I was at my prime, but I’d won about everything there was to win and I had plenty of money. I was sick with stomach ulcers and I was tired of living out of a suitcase. Most of all the spark was gone; the candle was out.”

Lorenzen also was among the first “outsiders” to capture the fancy of the partisan southeastern crowds following NASCAR premier series competition. Lorenzen was named the circuit’s Most Popular Driver in 1963 and 1965.

“Freddie was the first northerner I knew that all the people here liked,” informed Charlie “Slick” Owens, a Charlotte auto parts manager.

In retirement, Lorenzen became a successful Chicago real estate developer. He was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.

He was previously enshrined in the National Motorsports Press Association and International Motorsports halls of fame and Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

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