Birthplace of Speed
Fireball Roberts




James E. "Jim" Vandiver, Jr.
December 13, 1939
Died: June 18, 2015
Home: Huntersville, NC


James E. Vandiver, Jr., 77, a native Charlottean and resident of Huntersville for more than 40 years, was called home on June 18, 2015. Jim was the definition of a positive attitude, never worrying about anything and always having a GREAT day. A retired NASCAR driver, Jim enjoyed success as an independent driver and was the actual winner of the 1969 inaugural Talladega race, though he described his family as his greatest accomplishment. Jim is survived by, according to him, “the 4 greatest kids anybody could ever ask for” including son Emory Vandiver and wife CJ of Belmont, son Rhett Vandiver of Davidson, daughter Nicole Bryan and husband Callan of Davidson and daughter Shannon Vandiver of Cornelius. He is also survived by brother Tommie Vandiver, sister Lillian Hoopaugh and grandchildren Rhett Vandiver, Blake Vandiver, Marlo Vandiver, Cal Bryan, Lily Bryan and Will Bryan. Jim’s parents, James E. Vandiver, Sr. and Lillian Fesperman Vandiver, and his brother Milton Ray “Van” Vandiver went before him to glory.

The funeral was held at 4 p.m. on Monday, June 22nd at Jim’s church of over 40 years.

A private burial will be held at Northlake Memorial Gardens.


Jim Vandiver is known as one of the hardest charging independents of the sport, always running among the leaders in his 16-year Winston Cup career despite very limited sponsorship. Vandiver's expertise on super-speedways netted him 2 victories in his only two ARCA starts at Talladega. Jim was a legend among the Carolina dirt tracks with hundreds of feature wins at tracks such as Gaffney, Lancaster, Monroe and Concord. The Vandivers were truly a racing family. Younger brother Tommy served as Jim's chief mechanic and their sister. Lillian, was the first woman to drive at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

One of the more colorful tales of Jim's career involves a "family matter" as well. Tom Vandiver explains: "In 1973 Jim was in the middle of a custody case at the time of the Darlington race. His lawyer got a continuance from the South Carolina court until after the race - or so he thought. Before our second pit stop, I noticed two uniformed officers standing at the back of our pits. During the pit stop I yelled to Jim "The police are going to arrest you after the race for contempt of court!" Not sure if he heard me. I later held up a pit board with the message "LAW" on it. As the race wore on, we got in a wreck that made the car run slower and slower. Normally Jim would have pulled the car in and parked/but he was determined to avoid the bad publicity of being arrested. Around the mid-point of the race, he came down the frontstretch with his safety net down and waved "bye-bye" to us. He intentionally spun the car in turn three to bring out a caution flag. Then he scrambled out of his car, ran up the banking and jumped over the wall! The crew split up and looked for Jim all over the parking lots, campgrounds and infield with no luck. After several hours of searching in the 100 degree heat, I was called to a pay phone in the garage area. There was Jim on the other end, laughing! He told me that he had hitch-hiked in his driving uniform and was already safe back at home in North Carolina - sitting in the air conditioning and drinking iced tea!"

Lady In Black Darlington Memories

The Southern 500 was driver Jim Vandiver inexplicably stopping in Turn 3 after a checkered flag in the early ‘70s, jumping from his car, scrambling up the banking and over the wall, disappearing into the crowd.

Two Darlington County deputy sheriffs had been standing behind Vandiver's pit late in the race, and his crew had been showing him a board with the word "LAW" chalked on it.

What was going on? The officers had a summons for Vandiver in a civil matter, and they planned to serve it when he came in. Only Vandiver didn't.

After some time the deputies realized they had been hoodwinked. Red-faced, they left pit road with the laughter of crewmen ringing in their ears.

1970  Rookie of the Year Candidates
Bill Dennis (Winner), Joe Frasson, Jim Vandiver, Talmadge Prince

First Talladega
With Big Bill France as the guiding force, construction began on the 2,000-acre site on May 23, 1968, with the first race being the 'Bama 400 Grand Touring race on Saturday, Sept. 13, 1969. Ken Rush drove his Camaro to Victory Lane in that event.

Talladega practice and qualifying speeds were so high (Charlie Glotzbach won the pole at 199.466 mph) that the tire companies could not come up with a compound that held together for many laps. The Professional Drivers Association (PDA), led by Richard Petty, declared the situation unsafe, and left the track Saturday afternoon.

France decided the race would go on, using the drivers that decided not to participate in the boycott, plus some of those who had raced the day before. The full 500 miles were run without a major incident.

The next day, Richard Brickhouse won the first Grand National race, edging Jim Vandiver and Ramo Stott.



as told by Tom Higgins, thatsracin.com

These common-thread recollections roll into mind every time the NASCAR schedule takes its top tour to Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. The event has one of the most intriguing incidents in the sport's history.

The race, then known as the Talladega 500 at the facility then named Alabama International Motor Speedway, produced the first and only mass boycott among the sanctioning body's top drivers. Thirty-seven of them withdrew and did not race. The competitors pulled out, most taking their cars with them, because neither Goodyear nor Firestone had developed tires to handle the near-200 mph speeds attained at the awesome, high-banked new race track, which at 2.66-miles was the biggest oval-type speedway in the nation. The tires came apart--shredding like black strands of smoking spaghetti--after only four laps at 195 mph.

Further charging emotions with an undercurrent of high voltage electricity was the existence of the Professional Drivers Association, a union that had been formed only weeks earlier with Petty as its president.

Big Bill France, the NASCAR founder/president and also president/developer of the Talladega track, was suspicious that the union wanted to wrest control of the sanctioning body, or at least have a say in its operation. He wasn't about to yield a bit of the power he'd amassed over 22 years in bringing NASCAR from its rustic beginning on the dusty short tracks of the South.

This was the high-tension situation that sweltering Sept.13-14, 1969 weekend in Talladega's garage area as the disgruntled drivers and an inwardly furious France came to a face-to-face confrontation on Saturday, the eve of the 500.

I luckily was able to elbow my way almost to France's side and, jotting furiously, wrote in my notepad what was said. Here's partially how the jaw-to-jaw exchange went three dozen years ago between France, Bobby Allison, David Pearson, Petty, Yarborough and Yarbrough:

France: "This race can be run with a minimum of danger. I remember the first race at Darlington (the Southern 500 in '50)when every man in the field blew 25 tires."

Yarborough: "Yeah, Bill, but those guys were running only 65 miles an hour. We're running 200."

Pearson: "Why can't we simply postpone this thing and come back later when they get a good tire built?"

France: "We run tomorrow. If you don't want to run, then load your car and go home."

Petty: "It's loaded."

Yarbrough: "Why would you even consider letting us run on a track that isn't safe?"

France: "You say it's unsafe. I say you can run."

Petty: "We don't want to just run. We want to race."

Allison: "Can we start on foot and get paid by position? Wait, I take that back. The track is so rough we'd probably trip and fall before we got to the first turn."

France: "LeeRoy, you're a pilot who flies his own plane. Consider your car an airplane and this track the weather--a storm. When you're in your plane and you encounter bad weather, you adjust. You slow down, and go around it or over it. Do the same in your race car here. Slow down and adjust to conditions."

Yarbrough: "Bill, when the weather is as bad as this damn race track is, I don't even take off!"

The mass of drivers ringing France whooped with laughter at Yarbrough's zinger. France's face flushed with anger.

The exchanges then continued:

France: "What you hot dogs do is your business. But quit threatening the boys that want to race."

Petty: "Wait a minute. That threatening can go both ways. Don't threaten us...OK, drivers' meeting in the compound right over here!"

The drivers headed to a fenced area indicated by Petty. France and his son, Bill, Jr., followed.

Yarborough: "Where do you think you're going?"

France: "Inside, I'm a NASCAR member, just like you."

Yarborough: "This is a drivers' meeting only."

France: "Is it a PDA union meeting or a drivers' meeting?"

Yarborough: "A drivers' meeting, and you ain't comin' in!"

The two eyed each other angrily, then turned and went in opposite directions. I remember making a note, wondering when NASCAR and the drivers might go in the same direction again, if ever. After a brief conference, the drivers went to their trucks and with race cars in tow left the garage area and the track in a caravan.

"I hate to do this," Buddy Baker said as he departed. "But I like me. I've grown accustomed to living."

France, meanwhile, left to hurriedly patch together a field. And, waiving the rules to include Grand Touring Division cars and even ARCA machinery, he did just that. France was able to act because of a clause in the NASCAR rule book known simply as "E.I.R.I." That's essentially an asterisk notation that stands for "Except In Rare Instances." Basically this gave France the power to do whatever he wished. Somewhere deep in the present day NASCAR rule book, incidentally, "E.I.R.I." still exists.

But back to 1969...

On a sunny Sunday before a crowd estimated at 62,000, the 1st Talladega 500 started on time. The best-known drivers in a field of 36 were Bobby Isaac, Tiny Lund, Dick Brooks and Buck Baker, Buddy's dad who was in the twilight of a great career that had produced two championships. Also lining up to race were NASCAR journeymen Coo Coo Marlin, Earl Brooks, Earle Canavan, Roy Tyner and Richard Childress, who was destined to gain fame and glory by fielding the cars in which Dale Earnhardt won six of his seven Winston Cup championships. The field included two doctors--Don Tarr and Wilbur Pickett--and sports car drivers Billy Hagan and Amos Johnson.

Mixed in with sleek, needle-nosed, winged Dodges and the major NASCAR circuit's Chevys and Fords were smaller Camaros, Cougars, Firebirds, Javelins and Mustangs.

Also among the mix of drivers was a young PDA recruit, Richard Brickhouse, an Eastern North Carolina farm boy who was a relative newcomer to the NASCAR big time.

In a tense meeting that lasted until midnight on Saturday in the garage area, Brickhouse finally was enticed into breaking with the PDA by being given the chance to drive a factory-backed Dodge, a car given up by Chargin' Charlie Glotzbach. "When I joined the PDA I didn't expect anything like this walkout," said Brickhouse, who outwardly agonized before making his decision. "I don't want to make anybody mad, but I do want to race." It had been feared that fans might riot when they arrived at the track and found that the stars were really gone. Some advisors even encouraged France to ask that the Alabama National Guard be called out to keep order. However, the crowd generally was well behaved, even though it quickly became obvious that the race was being staged in a contrived way.

Although the cars were capable of running much faster, the race pace was held to around 175 mph to keep the tires from tearing apart. And approximately every 25 laps the yellow flag was shown, ostensibly for debris on the track, but in reality to give the teams a chance to change tires. With 11 of the 188 laps remaining, Brickhouse could restrain himself no longer. He hit full throttle on his purple Dodge, a car nicknamed "Plum Crazy" because of its paint scheme. With astonishing ease he whipped past Jim Vandiver, a Grand Touring Division driver from Charlotte who had led 13 times for 102 laps. Brickhouse charged to a whopping seven-second lead, prompting his crew chief to walk well out from pit road with a chalked message on a pit board imploring him to slow down. Brickhouse complied, and maintained the spread to win by seven seconds.

Vandiver was listed as the runnerup, but to this day he insists that a scoring error amidst all the pitting cost him the victory. ARCA's Ramo Stott finished third, the only other driver on the lead lap. Isaac, NASCAR major championship winner in 1970, finished fourth a lap down in the Dodge he'd started on the pole after qualifying at 196.386 mph. For reasons never made quite clear, Isaac hadn't been invited to join the PDA. Understandably irked, he defiantly refused to join the boycott. Dick Brooks placed fifth, eight laps behind. Indicating just how uncompetitive the race really was is the fact that sixth-place finisher Earl Brooks was 24 laps down to Brickhouse. Only 15 of the 36 starters were running at the finish.

Nevertheless, France was euphoric in Victory Lane as he placed a wreath of roses around the neck of Brickhouse, declaring, "Winners never quit and quitters never win!" It was to prove the only time that Brickhouse ever smelled the roses. He never won again and just a few years later essentially was gone from NASCAR's major tours.

France had said there would be "no penalties" against the drivers who withdrew from the first 500-miler at Talladega. His tone and words seemed ominous, though, as he stood in Victory Lane and declared, "The boys who pulled out owe their future to the drivers who ran today--if they have a future."

However, just four nights later, on Sept. 18, 1969, both Petty and Pearson entered and ran in a 100-miler at Columbia Speedway, a dirt track in South Carolina. Petty finished second to Isaac as Pearson fell out because of a broken axle. And on Sept. 28, practically all the boycotters were back behind the steering wheels of their race cars in the Old Dominion 500 at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. Petty, Pearson and Buddy Baker finished 1-2-3.

Within weeks the PDA ceased to exist. France had prevailed. Of all those most significantly involved in Talladega's inaugural race 36 autumns ago, only Petty and Childress continue with NASCAR in a major way, both fielding teams on what is now the Nextel Cup circuit. Bill France Sr., Isaac, Tyner, Coo Coo Marlin and Buck Baker are among those now deceased. Tiny Lund lost his life in a crash at Talladega in 1975.

In the intervening years the Talladega speedway has become known as one of the world's fastest, a track producing close, thrilling finishes. More darkly, it's also known as a home of "The Big Ones," multi-car crashes that seem to occur almost every race as 43 drivers run so very, very fast in packs, maneuvering for position while only inches apart.

"Everything has worked out, I guess," Petty now says, looking back on the controversy in 1969. "It was strictly the tire danger, not a PDA deal, that led to the boycott. "There was some fallout--backdoor politics--from it against the boys that left that weekend. But nothing that has kept the world from going around." His action broke the back of the PDA, which dissolved a couple of years later.

ARCA RE/MAX SERIES RACE WINNERS AT TALLADEGA - There have been a total of 26 different winners in ARCA RE/MAX Series competition at Talladega, including multiple-race winners Grant Adcox (5), Tim Steele (4), Davey Allison (4), Charlie Glotzbach (3), Jimmy Horton (2), Ramo Stott (2), Jim Vandiver (2), Red Farmer (2), Tracy Leslie (2) and single-race winners Paul Menard, Johnny Halford, Ron Hutcherson, Bruce Hill, Sandy Satullo, Billie Harvey, Mark Martin, Jim Vaughan, Rick Roland, Jeff Purvis, Mike Wallace, Bob Strait, David Keith, Bobby Gerhart, Keith Segars, Blake Feese and Kraig Kinser.

ARCA TALLADEGA CUMULATIVE POLE AWARDS - There are a total of 26 different pole award winners in ARCA RE/MAX Series competition at Talladega, including multiple pole award winners Charlie Glotzbach (4), Tim Steele (3), Bill Venturini (3), Davey Allison (3), Billie Harvey (3), Grant Adcox (2), Rick Roland (2) , Patty Moise (2) and Bobby Gerhart (2), along with single pole award winners Loy Allen, Jr., Jim Vandiver, Coo Coo Marlin, Woody Fisher, Ron Hutcherson, Jim Sauter, Sandy Satullo, Ralph Jones, Frank Kimmel, Jeff Purvis, Bob Schacht, Bob Strait, Kirk Shelmerdine, Kyle Busch, Bob Studdard, Dave Simko and Kraig Kinser.


1972 Daytona 500
The 1972 Daytona 500 was one of those rare events at the track that was about as exciting as watching paint dry. A.J. Foyt and Richard Petty were in a class by themselves; when Petty blew a motor on lap 80, Foyt cruised ahead to an easy victory. A.J. even admitted in victory Lane he had gotten bored out there running with no one to challenge him. Charlie Glotzbach was in second place, almost two laps down;  Jim Vandiver finished third, and Benny Parsons bought his Mercury home fourth. Also of note that year, Roger Penske made his first Daytona 500 start as a car owner with Trans Am/Can Am/Indy car legend Mark Donohue at the wheel. The car was a double ugly red, white and blue AMC Matador, and fans were probably greatly relieved when the hideous circus wagon retired on the 18th lap with a bent push rod. Donohue and Penske were credited with 35th place. By winning the 500, Foyt became the third Wood Brothers’ driver to win Daytona, joining Tiny Lund and LeeRoy Yarbrough. It was also the beginning of a period when three or four “super-teams” with heavy financial backing dominated the sport for a decade.


1975 DAYTONA 500
The original film of the 1975 Daytona 500, won in thrilling fashion by fan-favorite Benny Parsons, has recently been restored by Rare Sportsfilms Inc., and is now available for the first time ever on home video! Almost the entire 23-minute full-COLOR video is devoted to the actual race and action on the track, although there are some brief closeups of several drivers, such as Johnny Rutherford, Bobby Allison, David Pearson, A.J. Foyt and of course, Parsons. Closeup shots before the race show the cars of Donnie Allison, Foyt, Cale Yarborough, Pearson, Richard Petty and Dick Brooks.

The race gets underway with pole-sitter Donnie Allison being overtaken by David Pearson during the first lap. Charger A.J. Foyt, who starts 9th, is up to 5th after only 1 lap! The real action begins on lap 4, when Jim Vandiver loses control of his #99 Kaye Engineering Dodge in the third turn, creating a 9-car pile-up, involving Dick Trickle, Joe Mihalic, Bruce Hill, J.D. McDuffie (sent to the hospital with a broken breastbone), Grant Adcox, Dan Daughtry, Warren Tope and country singer Marty Robbins! Closeups of the wrecked cars of Vandiver, Mihalic, Trickle, Daughtry, Adcox and Hill are shown.

Got a Jim Vandiver Story, Comment or Picture? Email it here.


1973 Hemi Dodge Charger. 100% complete,  needs restoration.
Driven by Jim Vandiver. $100,000

Aero Warrior Statistics

Vandiver Brothers Car #31 (Alabama 500, Rebel 400, World 600, Motor State 400) O. L. Nixon Car #31
Total Events Driven: 9   Total Event Wins: 0  Total Poles: 0  Avg Starting Position: 16.8  Avg Finishing Position: 20.4

Race Date Starting Position Finishing Position Laps Completed/
Total Laps
Laps Lead Status
Alabama 500
Talladega, AL
4-12-70 23 33 93/188 0 Heating
Rebel 400
Darlington, SC
5-9-70 15 35 3/291 0 Engine
World 600
Charlotte, NC
5-24-70 18 10 374/400 6 Running
Motor State 400
Brooklyn, MI
6-7-70 16 6 198/200 0 Running
Firecracker 400
Daytona Beach, FL
7-4-70 22 33 27/160 0 Oil Line
Dixie 500
Hampton, GA
8-2-70 13 9 316/328 0 Running
Talladega 500
Talladega, AL
8-23-70 13 9 180/188 0 Running
National 500
Charlotte, NC
10-11-70 14 33 105/334 0 Crash
American 500
Rockingham, NC
11-15-70 17 16 448/492 0 Running
Race Date Starting Position Finishing Position Laps Completed/
Total Laps
Laps Lead Status
This table was adapted from information in "Forty Years of Stock Car Racing -- Volume Three" by Greg Fielden

Grand National / Winston Cup Statistics

Year Age Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn Miles
1968 28 1 of 49 0 0 0 0 5 0 100 124 19.0 22.0 2.0
1969 29 3 of 54 0 1 2 0 726 102 13,925 96 11.7 18.3 833.1
1970 30 14 of 48 0 0 5 0 2634 6 16,080 45 17.1 20.4 3670.7
1971 31 7 of 48 0 1 4 0 1423 0 13,575 48 19.3 13.6 2566.3
1972 32 16 of 31 0 2 3 0 2871 6 28,533 31 16.4 25.8 3462.0
1973 33 10 of 28 0 0 4 0 2431 0 18,586 31 17.0 20.2 3841.1
1974 34 7 of 30 0 0 1 0 1061 1 15,909 40 18.1 24.7 1996.4
1975 35 13 of 30 0 1 4 0 2929 1 24,200 30 23.7 19.8 3624.6
1976 36 1 of 30 0 0 0 0 176 0 3,735 86 35.0 13.0 468.2
1977 37 1 of 30 0 0 0 0 137 0 3,520 90 19.0 20.0 342.5
1978 38 2 of 30 0 0 0 0 362 0 3,530 81 29.5 32.5 562.0
1979 39 4 of 31 0 0 0 0 716 1 8,015 62 32.8 30.5 1068.8
1980 40 4 of 31 0 0 1 0 610 0 13,185 52 33.2 27.2 1136.3
1983 43 2 of 30 0 0 0 0 448 0 4,810 88 33.0 30.0 673.7
14 years 85 0 5 24 0 16529 117 167,703 20.5 22.2 38 24247.8
Grand National Owner Statistics
Year Driver Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn Miles
1970 Jim Vandiver 4 0 0 2 0 668 6 16,080 45 18.0 21.0 1208.5
1 year 4 0 0 2 0 668 6 16,080   18.0 21.0 1208.5

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