Don't forget the
By Gaylen Duskey, Special to
Turner Sports Interactive
June 27, 2001
consider whiskey running to be the genesis of
stock car racing. Much has been written or
romanticized about those drivers. Robert Mitchum
in Thunder Road is the image conjured up to
NASCAR great, Junior Johnson, has always
been considered the mold for such romantic road
warriors. He's even been the subject of a book
by Thomas Wolfe, 'The Last American Hero' that
further romanticizes both the man and the image
of the man. And as great of an example as
Johnson is as a bridge from bootlegging to
NASCAR racing, he may not be as good an example
as were the
Fabulous Flock Brothers --
Bob, Fonty and Tim.
were bootleggers. Actually their uncle
Peachtree Williams was the bootlegger and
the two older Flock boys -- Bob and
Fonty -- were his drivers. They came from
their home in Ft. Payne, Ala., to make moonshine
runs in rural Georgia back during the
prohibition era. When they were not making runs
they talked with other drivers about which car
was the fastest. And that talk led to NASCAR ...
if you follow the progression.
According to the story the drivers would find a
pasture field somewhere and drive around in
circles -- about a half mile circle -- until
they had worn out a path in the grass. Then they
would race. The Flocks were among the
instigators of this racing. And the racing grew
by word of mouth as a small crowd got a little
larger and larger until some entrepreneurial
people started building race tracks. It is from
those tracks that NASCAR grew.
Flock family as a whole was a very interesting
family. There were eight children born to Lee
and Maudie Flock and many of them were
colorful, to say the least.
Carl, the oldest boy, was a speedboat racer.
Reo, one of the girls, was a wing-walking
daredevil. She also was a stunt parachutist.
Another sister, Ethel, was a race car
driver with more than 100 races. She had one
Grand National (the precursor of NASCAR's
Winston Cup) start and finished 11th.
there was the trio of Flock boys that actually
made it onto the NASCAR circuit -- Bob, Fonty
and Tim. Bob, the oldest, and Fonty
got into racing first. They were competitors in
the 'moonshine' races held in pastures in
Georgia, which probably was the genesis of what
is now NASCAR. They both drove those circuits in
the years before NASCAR came along in 1949.
Bob, who was born in 1918, had the shortest
career in NASCAR. He started when the circuit
was founded in 1949 and raced until retiring in
1956. He had 36 career starts and won four
Fonty had a pretty good NASCAR career. He
started 154 races and had 19 wins and 33 poles
during a career that lasted from 1949 through
the star of the family was Tim, the baby.
He was one of the most colorful NASCAR drivers
During his career he:
Raced with a monkey in his car.
Lost a race because of an in-car fight with the
Raced in a car with the number 300 painted on
Won a Grand National (Winston Cup) title driving
a Hudson Hornet.
Won NASCAR's only sports car race driving a
Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing.
Quit NASCAR racing altogether over a race ruling
and opened a gasoline station only to be talked
back into racing while watching time trials as a
spectator and then going on to win that race.
Was banned from racing for life.
on top of it all he was quite a driver winning
40 races (in 187 starts) and two Grand National
titles in a career that started in 1949 and
lasted until he was banned in 1961.
Quite a story? You bet.
Tim's older brothers had their way he may not
have been a race car driver. They wanted him to
stay away from racing and go to school. It did
not work out that way. He tagged along with his
older brothers to the race tracks and in 1948 he
ran into a man, Bruce Thompson from
Monroe, N.C., who had a car but no driver. He
asked Tim to drive and before the year was out
he was outrunning his older brothers.
following year NASCAR started a 'strictly stock'
circuit which eventually led to Grand National
and Winston Cup. Tim competed on it and by 1952
had won his first championship in a Hudson
Hornet, giving Hudson its only championship. The
way he won the title was actually rather
interesting since going into the last race of
the season all he needed to do was to start to
beat Herb Thomas, who he had waged a
season-long battle with. He did more than start
but on the 64th lap he rolled his car over. He
later jokingly said "I bet I am the only guy who
ever won a championship while on his head."
had an affinity for laughing and for clowning
around. Those two things led to his brief --
nine races -- stint with a rhesus monkey as his
co-driver. For the first eight races Jocko
Flocko, as the monkey was called, was fine as a
co-driver. The ninth race was a different story.
With Tim leading the race Jocko Flocko somehow
broke out of his cage and went berserk in the
race car at one time grabbing Tim by the neck.
Tim subdued the monkey with one hand while
driving with the other before pulling into the
pits to get Jocko Flocko out of the car. His pit
stop cost him the race he was leading before
Jocko Flocko broke loose as he finished third.
ended his career abruptly in 1954 after being
disqualified in a race for an illegal part in
his car. He went home to Atlanta and opened a
gas station figuring he was through with racing.
He was talked into going to Daytona by some
friends of his in 1955 and that is where he saw
them testing the new Chrysler 300. That car, and
some cajoling by some friends, was all it took
to get him back behind the wheel again.
one thing that Flock found wrong with the
Chrysler 300 was that it had an automatic shift.
He did not think it would keep up with other
cars going uphill on the beach at Daytona
because of that. It did not and he finished
second to Glenn 'Fireball' Roberts in
that race. Ironically, Roberts was disqualified
the next day and Flock was declared the winner.
was the start of an awesome season as he teamed
with car owner Carl Keikhaefer to have
one of the greatest seasons in NASCAR history.
Driving the number 300 Chrysler 300 he won the
championship by winning 18 races and 19 poles.
lasted only about a season and a half with
Keikhaefer, who was a bit tyrannical with
his drivers. He then began cutting back on his
driving and by 1961 was working at Charlotte
Motor Speedway and racing on a limited basis. It
was at this time, however, that many NASCAR
drivers started talking about unionizing going
so far as to approach Jimmy Hoffa and the
Teamsters about representing them.
union idea fell apart and many of the drivers
left the group, leaving only Flock and Curtis
Turner, a former NASCAR driver who was his
boss at Charlotte Motor Speedway, with that
idea. NASCAR banned both for life. The lifetime
ban was repealed in 1965 but Flock did not
return to racing.
was a pioneer. He was colorful. But, most of
all, he was a very good racer. He died of cancer
in 1998. He was the most colorful of The
Fabulous Flock Brothers but they all need to be
recognized as NASCAR pioneers.