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Dick Meyer
Born:      Died: September 16, 1953
Home: Porterville, CA 

Born and raised in Porterville, California, Dick Meyer was immersed in racing. He came up in the racing world the hard way by racing in the jalopy and roadster divisions, which were pretty rag-tag. The time he spent driving in those divisions made him a driver who knew how to be rough on the track. He jumped into sprint cars and instantly began winning and setting track records.

Meyer’s NASCAR Grand National Division debut came in 1951 in the April race at Carrell Speedway, a half-mile dirt track near Gardena, California. Meyer drove Grant Sniffen’s No. 9 Mercury to a sixth place finish in the 200-lap event. Meyer then had a fifth place finish at the one-mile dirt Arizona Fairgrounds racetrack. When the Grand National Division returned to Carrell Speedway in June, Meyer recorded a 13th place finish driving the No. 9 Hudson. In October, Meyer finished fifth in the 400-lap NASCAR Grand National race on the .625-mile dirt track at Oakland Stadium in Oakland, California. Meyer then made the 200-lapper at the half-mile Marchbanks Speedway at Hanford, California driving the No. 9 Sniffen Mercury to a 19th place finish. Meyer then showcased his driving skill when the NASCAR Grand National Division returned to Carrell Speedway in November by leading 82 laps in the 200-lap event before finishing second to Bill Norton.

In 1952, Meyer decided it was time to test his skills on the beach at Daytona. He entered the 49-lap, 200-mile beach and road course race at Daytona Beach, Florida in February driving the No. 97 Lincoln. He completed the endurance challenge the beach course presented and finished the event in 17th place.

In 1953, Meyer ran the Hudson in seven AAA races at Carrell Speedway winning a 100-lapper in February and a 100-lapper in March.

     Lou Figaro on the inside pole (R) and Dick Meyer on the outside pole at Carrell Speedway early 50's

Meyer entered the 1953 Southern 500 driving the No. 49 Dodge. A total of 59 cars competed in the Southern 500 that year. Meyer started 13th but finished a strong fourth. In those days, the drivers typically drove their race cars to the track, taped up the headlights and raced. When the race was over, they untapped the headlights and drove the car home. After the Southern 500, Meyer and his crew loaded up in the Dodge and began the long drive back to California. Just outside Henderson, Nevada, they were stopped by the local police chief. The Chief of Police followed NASCAR racing a bit and wanted Meyer to help him extract additional horsepower out of his patrol cars. Meyer gave the chief some pointers on tuning a car’s suspension with shocks and springs. The chief’s son challenged Meyer to a race on the highway. Meyer accepted the challenge and the chief said, “when we get done we are going to keep right on going and thanks for the info on shocks and springs.” Sadly, during their race on the highway, Meyer struck a bridge abutment, and he and two crew members were killed.

Besides driving, Meyer mentored Marvin Panch and was instrumental in Panch making his start in NASCAR. Panch was struggling to put a motor together and Meyer was racing with Mercury backing. Meyer put things together of Panch to be able to make that first NASCAR start.

Meyer’s son, Dick, Jr. worked on the racing teams of A. J. Foyt and Junior Johnson visiting Victory Lane at Daytona. Meyer’s grandson, Adam has also made a career in racing. He has worked as a fabricator at Richard Childress Racing and was involved in the aerodynamic work on the late Dale Earnhardt’s Daytona and Talladega cars.

August 15, 2007  By Allen Madding You can contact Allen Madding at .. Insider Racing News

DICK MEYER    from StockCarReunion.com

Driver, car owner and potential superstar, Dick Meyer competed in NASCAR’s earliest days. Born and raised in Porterville, Meyer owned Sniffin & Meyer Auto body. The family owned a mortuary. The #98 Burgundy Mercury that he, Marvin Panch and Hershel McGriff drove was partially sponsored by the mortuary.

He won at Bay Meadows on the mile, Carrell Speedway in a Hudson in ‘52 and the high wall at Oakland. He also won on on the mile at San Jose. Danny Letner was a teammate. He won a race at Reno once and several others.

Ken Clapp said, “He knew how to win races. He’d come up through the roadster and jalopy ranks. I’d rate him as a Jimmy Johnson. Meyer could be rough. He was no pussycat. In his total career in Cup from ’49 until his death, he won about a dozen races.

“He did so many things in his short time and the future was so bright for him. If he’d have been around for a few more years, he’d have been as well known as Joe Weatherly. He climbed in sprint cars and won and set records in sprints. He wanted to go to Indy. Back then, that was the “big gee,” you didn’t have the Daytona 500. He drove a Hudson only three times and he won all three races. We went to Daytona in ’52 and he ran the beach in one of the first beach races and he had a bad deal with Ford and that’s when he quit and went full time with Chrysler on the Plymouth deal and he was Plymouth’s “golden boy” and he was ahead of Lee Petty in the pecking order when everything came to an end.”

He did not win a championship, likely because he didn’t really pursue a championship. From the west coast, in those days, the fast guys would go to Phoenix or Portland.

When he began racing he was driving Mercury’s. Later he drove Hudson Hornets and Dodges. He won the bulk of his races in V8 Dodges in 1953. He finished 4th at Darlington that year in a Hudson. He also had great success in Oldsmobile’s. He was a teammate to Marvin Panch. He was #1 and Panch #2.

Dick Meyer Jr. said that his dad “gave Marvin Panch his start. Mom asked if he’d lost his mind. He had a factory Mercury ride then. Marvin and him were buddies and Marvin was trying to dig up a motor.”

It is said that only the good die young and in Dick Meyer’s case, it’s literally true. A Porterville, California native, Meyer was killed in his race car, not on the race track, but on the way home to California from Darlington in 1954. In those days, it was not uncommon to pull the tape off the headlights and drive the race car home from the track.

Outside Henderson, Nevada, Meyer and his crew got stopped by the police chief and went with him into town. The police chief knew a bit about racing and thought Meyer might have an idea of how to fix up his police cars to make them faster. The Chief of Police’s son had a Red Ram V8 and challenged Dick to a race on the highway. Meyer said OK and the chief said, “when we get done we are going to keep right on going and thanks for the info on shocks and springs.”

Unfortunately, Meyer hit a bridge abutment and he and his two crew members were killed, but Meyer’s legacy didn’t stop with his passing.

His grandchildren now work for Richard Childress in the fabrication shop. Dick Meyer Jr., who’s here tonight, makes his home in Troutman, NC. Adam Meyer is also here. He did all the aerodynamic work on Earnhardt’s Daytona and Talladega deal. Meyer Jr. scratch-built cars for A.J. Foyt and worked with Jr. Johnson. “{I’ve been in victory circle at Daytona,” he said. Of his father, Meyer Jr. said, “He left a heritage.

“I came back [to the Southeast] in the mid-seventies and I didn’t realize how many people still remembered him. It really amazed me how many people remembered my dad and told me good things about him.

Note: Page under construction. Please send stories or pictures for inclusion.

Dick Meyer Strictly Stock DRIVER Statistics

Year Age Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn
1951   6 of 41 0 3 4 0 0 82 1,650 24 3.7 8.3
1952   1 of 34 0 0 0 0 0 0 50 112 16.0 17.0
1953   1 of 37 0 1 1 0 355 0 1,000   13.0 4.0
3 years 8 0 4 5 0 355 82 2,700   8.0 8.9

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