Born: June 1, 1926 Died: October 28, 1989
Home: Indianapolis, IN
Dieringer is a former NASCAR
Grand National and Winston Cup driver. He made his debut
in 1957 driving for John Zink and John
Whitford but would see little success until 1963,
when driving for Bill Stroppe, he won a race,
logged 15 top tens, and finished 7th in points. A solid
1964 was followed up by an even better 1965 season when
Dieringer collected 15 more top tens in addition to
another win and finished 3rd in series points behind Ned Jarrett and
Dick Hutcherson while driving
for Bud Moore and a variety of other owners.
However, he struggled with reliability in 1966 and
despite capturing 3 wins, including his biggest win of
his career, the Southern 500, only finished 12th in
points. Dieringer ran a part time schedule in 1967 and
1968 with limited success and a single race in 1969. He
was out of NASCAR until 1975 when he returned for the
Charlotte and Superspeedway races and then retired.
Dieringer had a short Grand National career from 1961 to
1968. In 1961 and 1962 he raced in a total of 21 races;
seven in ’61 and 14 in 1962. He had no wins in either season
and was 35th and 33rd in the points standings. In 1963 Darel
started in 27 races and finally found the checkered flag at
Riverside, CA, the last race of the season. He took seventh
in the points race with 21,148.
Darel got his
second career win at the second to the last race of the
season in 1964 at Augusta, GA. but only placed 11th in
points after 27 starts.
Dieringer got his
third win in the 1965 Dayton 500 qualifying race and won the
pole for the Dayton 500. Although he couldn’t turn his pole
into a victory, it seemed to be a step in the right
direction for the season. He placed third in overall points
behind drivers Ned Jarrett and Dick Hutcherson.
Darel Dieringer Gets Three Wins
1966 was a winning
season for Darel. He had his first season with more than
just one win. Career win number four came at Monroe, North
Carolina, followed by win number five in Weaverville, NC.
Dieringer also won at Darlington in ’66.
1967 seemed to be
the “Year of the Pole” for Darel Dieringer. In 19 starts
that season he won seven pole positions, including the
Firecracker 400 at Daytona, the South Eastern 500 at
Bristol. He reached the checkered flag for the seventh and
last time in his career at Wilkesboro, North Carolina and
finished the season 12th on the points list.
Darel had 18 starts
in 1968, including a pole position at Weaverville, NC. With
no wins he finished his final NASCAR season 21st with 1,525
Darel Dieringer was born on the 1st
June 1926 in Indianapolis, Indiana. He had a
short Grand National career, making his
debut in 1957 and at first he had little
success. In 1961 and 1962 he had no wins
although he took part in twenty one races.
He finished the seasons at 35th and 33rd
respectively. In 1963 he moved from John
Zink and John Whitford to drive for Bill
Stroppe and he won the last race of the
season, the Golden State 400 at Riverside,
California. He started in twenty seven races
and ended the season at seventh in the
point’s race. In 1964 he had to wait until
the second from the last race for his second
career win at Augusta, Georgia. This season
he finished eleventh in the points race.
1965 was an even better year for Darel when
he won his third career race in the Daytona
500 qualifying race and he won the pole for
the Daytona 500 but unfortunately he was
unable to turn this into a win leaving him
placed third in the overall points race. The
following year, 1966 was a very good season
for Darel, giving him his fourth career win
at Monroe, North Carolina and yet another
win at Weaverville, North Carolina and a
sixth and most treasured win driving Bud
Moore’s Mercury to victory at Darlington
when he beat Richard Petty. Starting
nineteen races in 1967 he amasses an amazing
seven pole positions including the
Firecracker 400 at Daytona and the South
Eastern 500 at Bristol. He had his seventh
and final win of his career at Wilkesboro,
North Carolina and finished twelfth in the
point’s race. In 1968 he started eighteen
races, gained no wins but had one pole
position at Weaverville, North Carolina. He
finished twenty first in what was to be his
final full time NASCAR season. It seems that
Darel ran a limited schedule from 1967 to
1969 with little success and he had just one
race in 1969. He returned to NASCAR in 1975
for the National 500 at Charlotte and the
Talladega Superspeedway before retiring.
Throughout his career Darel raced in 181
races over a twelve year period, gaining
seven wins, an incredible seventy nine top
ten positions and nine poles.
He was a popular driver, both with his fans
and his colleagues and this earned him the
title of NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver in
1966. He was also a test driver who in 1965
helped Goodyear to develop the tire inner
tube that was to become one of the most
important tire safety innovations. Together
with Richard Petty, the two gutsy drivers
purposely drove over pieces of pipe,
sharpened at one end and mounted onto a
steel plate at speeds up to 170 mph to test
how the car would react. They both found
that after the tire failed the car was still
controllable and they were able to bring in
the cars smoothly and safely into the pits.
Sadly Darel died on 28th of October 1989 at
the age of sixty three.
His son, Darel "the Demon" Dieringer. Jr. is
continuing with the family tradition of
racing by being part of local Indiana short
track racing in the Super Truck Division of
the Championship Auto Racing Series (CARS)
now the Indy United Racing League (IURL),
winning many top 5 points finishes and
several top 5 Event finishes. He is a
co-owner and drives for RMM.
BOOMER AND A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS
The sound reverberated off walls, guardrails
The sound was heard over the roar of 40-odd
NASCAR Grand National race cars.
The sound was horrible and in the 1960s it
was the last sound a number of Grand
National drivers heard just before their
Was the sound made by exploding Goodyear and
Firestone right front tires on NASCAR’s
superspeedways. The awful sound was heard
just before a race car careened into or over
a wall or guardrail or possibly began to
barrel roll, taking other cars with it.
Was sickening to hear. It nearly always
Is a sound today’s millionaire NASCAR
drivers have never heard.
They have one of their own in particular to
thank for the absence of the dreaded “BOOM!!!” at
today’s NASCAR superspeedway races. That
would be the late driver, Darel Dieringer,
one of my all-time favorite personalities of
many I met during a career in stock car
I first saw Darel
Dieringer in the September 1964
Capital City 300 at
the half-mile dirt Richmond Fairgrounds
bullring. He wheeled car owner, Bud Moore’s
#16 Mercury to an 18th place finish that day
after starting 6th, two rows behind his
front row teammate, Billy Wade in Moore’s #1
twin black & red Mercury. Dieringer’s
earnings the first time I saw him drive were
Car owner, Moore had lost his primary
driver, Joe Weatherly in a fatal crash at
Riverside the same January and unknown to
both Dieringer and Moore, Wade would be dead
before the first race of 1965. It was a
horrible period in auto racing, both in
stock cars and on the Indy circuit. I won’t
attempt to list the fatalities that took
place between the 1964 season openers and
1965 season openers on the two major United
States racing circuits. The losses were
staggering and cast a real pall over auto
It would be 17 years after that fall 1964
Richmond race before I met Darel Dieringer.
That was in 1981 when I was managing the
Wrangler Jeans / Dale Earnhardt NASCAR
program. It was certainly my loss to have
only known Darel for eight years before he
succumbed to liver cancer.
Have you ever met someone who could light up
a room with an infectious grin? Have you
ever met someone your spouse said you should
be more like? Have you ever met someone who
always knew the perfect compliment to bestow
on a member of the opposite sex? Have you
ever met someone who genuinely wanted to
help other drivers?
Darel Dieringer was all of those things and
a gentleman the whole way.
I never had a hospitality suite at any track
when my wife didn’t ask me if I had invited
Darel Dieringer. She thought he was really
special and she was right. It didn’t hurt
that both my wife and Darel’s wife were
named Joyce, either.
Darel Dieringer could charm the meanest
V.I.P. guest who at first had no desire to
be attending a stock car race. Darel’s
picture should be above any description of
public relations in any training manual.
Daytona bills itself as the “Birthplace
of Speed.”Darel, however, was
born in Indianapolis in 1926, but made his
everlasting contribution to auto racing
safety at the Daytona tri-oval.
In a NASCAR career that stretched from 1956
– 1975, Darel made 181 Grand National starts
and 21 times drove the NASCAR ragtops. The
record book shows he visited victory lane 7
times in his Grand National career.
Darel had first come to prominence driving
for noted west coast Ford and Mercury race
car builder, Bill Stroppe.
His biggest win came in the 1966 Southern
500 at Darlington driving Bud Moore’s #16
Mercury Comet. I was there that day, with my
buddy, Frank from Richmond. It was our first
Darlington adventure. Ironically, Darel
would beat Richard Petty, who suffered a
catastrophic tire failure in his iconic #43
Plymouth while leading.
Following his 1966
Southern 500 winning season, Darel was voted “Most
Popular Driver” by
the NASCAR membership.
Although many would point to the Southern
500 win as Darel’s greatest accomplishment,
I’d maintain that his contributions at
Daytona during January 1965 are the real
claim to fame for the member of the National
Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame.
At the time, Darel was chief tire tester for
Goodyear. A Goodyear engineer had the idea
to see if the manufacturer could mimic
Goodyear’s special safety feature “Tire
Within a Tire” road
After Christmas 1964 and before the 1965
Daytona 500, Darel and Bud Moore headed to
Daytona with the #16 Mercury Comet.
Goodyear engineers affixed a sharpened steel
spike to a metal plate and placed it at the
entrance to Daytona’s turn 3. Darel’s job
was to come down the Daytona back stretch at
140mph and run over the metal spike going
into turn 3 and see what happened. Can you
imagine the intestinal fortitude it took to
make that first run?
Well, the first time by, Darel missed the
Later Dieringer made runs of 150, 160 and
165mph running over that metal spike in the
name of saving the lives of yet unborn
NASCAR driving stars of the future. The test
was deemed a success and Goodyear introduced
its new safety inner liner tire at the 1965
Daytona 500. In a nod toward the safety of
all drivers, Goodyear shared the technology
tested by Darel Dieringer with arch rival,
Firestone and was given the NASCAR
Award of Excellence.
The story of the test session,
unfortunately, had a black side. During one
run, Darel blew out both the outer and inner
tire and hit the concrete wall at speed,
fracturing ribs, collarbone and shoulder and
destroying Bud Moore’s #16.
Unable to complete the test for Goodyear
after the inner liner test of a standard
racing tire, Bud Moore called Spartanburg
and had his team dispatch his other driver,
Billy Wade and the #1 Mercury to Daytona to
complete testing for Goodyear.
On January 5, 1965, Wade had a blowout and
crash resulting in his death. It was found
that he had slid under his seatbelt on
impact with Daytona’s not all soft walls.
Wade’s crash resulted in the introduction of
an integral part of the 5-point safety
harness that went between drivers’ legs and
kept them from sliding under the lap safety
Dieringer later was offered a ride in Junior
Johnson’s #26 factory Ford, before being
fired by Johnson for what the moonshiner
explained as “not
pushing the button.”
Recognizing Dieringer’s public relations
talent and his ability to work with young
drivers, Goodyear named him as their
Assistant Field Director. Darel held the
position for 5 ˝ years before being offered
the position of Field Director for Goodyear
racing tires. He declined that offer
because it required a move from Charlotte to
When I met Darel in 1981, he hadn’t driven a
race car in 6 years and had only raced a
couple of times the last several years. At
the time, Darel was a great champion of
driver, Lake Speed.
When Lake was running his own Oldsmobile
team in 1988, I was ghostwriting all of
Oldsmobile’s factory NASCAR news releases.
When crew chief Darrell Bryant and engine
builder, J.E. Beard put a winning
combination under Speed for the 1988
TranSouth 500 at Darlington, I was in
victory lane. Speed was quick to thank Darel
Dieringer for being his mentor and sticking
with him. It was only fitting that Lake
Speed’s only career win would come at the
same track where his mentor, Dieringer
scored his biggest victory
I once had a public relations and marketing
office on Old Pineville Road in Charlotte
and in 1989 I was representing several
NASCAR car owners, drivers and sponsors.
Darel Dieringer got in the habit of dropping
by my office every morning around 9:00 a.m.
for a cup of coffee. I was the first stop as
his rounds”visiting various race
folks and shops. It wasn’t until Darel
started wearing one of those little sporty
car caps to cover his hair loss from
chemotherapy that I realized there was a
Darel never stayed long. He knew folks had “work
to do.” But,
his visit was a wonderful way to start what
might have been a rotten day with a smile.
The morning visits eventually stopped in
mid-summer 1989 as cancer took its terrible
toll at age 63.
Darel Dieringer might not have been a“Renaissance
he was certainly a “Man
for All Seasons.” And
though Darel Dieringer was born 22 years
before me, I think it fair to claim he was
also a BOOMER,
even though he earned the title not by his
birth year, but by assuring that other
drivers would live long beyond their own
NASCAR may have given their Award of
Excellence to Goodyear, but every driver who
straps in on every superspeedway owes a debt
of gratitude to the late Darel Dieringer. I
wonder… how many in the contrived “Chase” even
know his name?
Model (and above print)
by Bill Rankin
Darel's Son - A driver in his own
us to introduce our Driver, Darel "the Demon"
Dieringer - yes, the son of the late
Sr., 1988 inductee into the NASCAR Auto Racing Hall of Fame!
the boys in the pits at a Circuit of Champions convertible
race said "Here comes Darel and the Demon", they were not
talking about some being from outer space, but a lean,
lanky, hard-driving chauffeur from Deer Lodge, Montana and
his three-year-old son.
has always been a big part of Darel's life, beginning as his
father raced the local tracks around Indiana and worked his
way to the NASCAR Winston Cup
Series, winning pole position in the 1965
Daytona 500 - finishing 2nd in that race. With
many other wins during his career, Darel's father topped
them off by winning the 1966 Darlington Southern 500.
has kept the dream alive. Over the past several years Darel
has been a part of local Indiana short track racing in the
Super Truck Division of the Championship Auto Racing
Series (CARS), now the INDY UNITED RACING LEAGUE (IURL).
Darel's team earned the
Most Improved Driver Award and finished
fourth in points for the
season at the end of his second year of racing. Darel has
won multiple top 5 Points finishes and several top 5 Event
finishes. And now, as co-owner and driver for RMM,
Darel continues the family tradition.
also appears in an interesting story called
"Nascar's REAL Top 50" by Steve Smith
Darel Dieringer Grand National / Winston Cup DRIVER Statistics
Copyright © 2003
by Roland Via. All rights reserved. Revised:
01/25/16 17:51:37 -0500.
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