James E. "Jim" Vandiver, Jr.
Born: 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
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
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!"
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.
Rookie of the Year Candidates
Dennis (Winner), Joe Frasson,
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
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.
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.
day, Richard Brickhouse won the first Grand
National race, edging
Jim Vandiver and Ramo Stott.
TALLADEGA - The Boycott
as told by Tom Higgins,
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
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
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
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
Petty: "It's loaded."
Yarbrough: "Why would you even
consider letting us run on a track that
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
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
France: "Inside, I'm a NASCAR member,
just like you."
Yarborough: "This is a drivers'
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
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
Coo Coo Marlin,
Earl Brooks, Earle Canavan,
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.
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
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
"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
His action broke the back of
the PDA, which dissolved a couple of years
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),
(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.
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.,
, 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.
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
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
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
Mihalic, Trickle, Daughtry, Adcox and Hill are
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1973 Hemi Dodge Charger. 100% complete, needs
Driven by Jim Vandiver. $100,000
Copyright © 2003
by Roland Via. All rights reserved. Revised:
12/03/18 01:54:46 -0500.
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