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Sammy Packard
 Born: October 4, 1919      Died: March 23, 2003
Home: Barrington, RI  and Daytona Beach, FL

This is a great site, very interesting.  I would like to have added to your list my father, Sammy Packard.  He was one of the founding father's of NASCAR.  He also was the last original member of the forming group to pass away, he died on March 23, 2003.  He raced motorcycles, boats, drove in the beach races and was a NASCAR inspector. It would be a great honor to my sister, Rhoda Packard Blackie and myself, Priscilla Packard to have his name added.  His wife of 57 years, Lee Packard, passed away October 7, 2007. Keep up the good work. Thank You.  Priscilla Packard

Sammy Packard was a NASCAR driver from Barrington, RI. He competed in four Grand National events in his career, earning one top-ten.

Packard's debut came in 1951, when he competed at Langhorne. Starting positions in the field of thirty-six are unknown, but Packard struggled a bit and wound up 25th. He would also finish 25th later in the year at Thompson.

Believe it or not, Packard did not return to the circuit until 1961, competing this time at Norwood. Starting 13th in the field of eighteen, Packard fell some fifty-six laps down in the race but still managed to finish in the 9th position - a career-best.

Packard's final race would come in 1962, when he competed at Valdosta. Despite his finishing position of 13th, it was not a very good race for Packard, as he started and finished last (only thirteen cars in the field) after early engine failure. He died of Natural Causes at age 83.

An Interview with Sammy Packard      From February 2003
 

In December 1947, Bill France Sr., tallest in top row, gathered racers, car owners and promoters for a meeting at the Streamline Hotel in the Ebony Bar on State Road A1A in Daytona Beach. The end result was a new racing sanctioning body: NASCAR. At top left is Sammy Packard.
(Photo: The Daytona Beach News-Journal)

Question: A little more than 55 years ago, you and a couple of other gentlemen sat over at the Streamliner Hotel (in Daytona Beach, Fla.) and decided to start this little thing called NASCAR. Describe that meeting.

Packard: I think there were 31-32 of us there. Bill France contacted us, different people -- mechanics, drivers, promoters -- and had us gather at one place to start NASCAR."

Question: What did you bring to the table? What was your role?

Packard: I was a midget driver, and I decided I wanted to get involved in stock car racing. I came down here one time to see what was going on -- I came from Providence, R.I. -- and I liked it, and I went to work for Bill France. When he had this meeting, he notified me, had me come down here, and I was, more or less, the New England representative."

Question: What was your impression of the meeting? Was it something you thought would work?

Packard: We were having a great deal of problems with promoters running off with the purse. We'd get done racing, and we'd have no promoter, no money. This organization was put together so the promoter had to deposit the money before the race so we were sure to get paid afterwards."

Question: That was one of the main reasons to start NASCAR.

Packard: I believe so."

Question: Fifty-five years later, looking back at what this organization has become, what's your overall impression?

Packard: Now it's strictly a rich man's sport. The garage man, the individual, he doesn't fit into the picture anymore."

Question: Was that ever the intent 55 years ago?

Packard: No one imagined it would possibly get as big as it is today."

Question: Even at 83, are you still involved in racing?

Packard: Oh yeah, I still have a midget. We run it with the antique association. I have a friend who has a '39 Ford Coupe I drive in the vintage races."

Question: Going back to that first meeting when NASCAR was formed, you said it was something that was put together to make sure the promoters were on the up-and-up and didn't take money. Did anybody have any idea it would grow much beyond that?

Packard: It was a Southern group, through the Carolinas and into Florida. It didn't expand for several years. It started getting up into New York and Pennsylvania and eventually it got up into New England. It was hard to get the track owners to sign up because they didn't know what it was. Once they got organized and everything, it covers the whole United States now."

Question: Was Bill France the ultimate salesman?

Packard: Yes."

Question: What made it work?

Packard: Bill France. He surrounded himself with the right people, promoters and so forth who knew what the operation was and they got it off the ground."

Question: As big as Bill dreamed, could he imagine what it's become today?

Packard: No way. There was one man who was a promoter, Bill Tutthill, who came down from New York and joined in with Bill. He was the vice president. He was one of the leading pushers of NASCAR."

Question: Will you go to the races?

Packard: No. When I got done driving, I became an inspector, and I worked for NASCAR all over the country for eight years. Frankly speaking, I couldn't afford to go to them today."

Question: Any other memories of that first meeting?

Packard: I remember Red Vogt; he was a mechanic from Atlanta. He came up with the name NASCAR. Marshall Teague was there, and I believe Marshall was elected treasurer."

Question: Looking at where NASCAR is today and looking back, it's kind of easy to forget how and why NASCAR was even formed. Do you feel like the sport as moved so fast and so quickly, it's forgotten where it came from?

Packard: Ninety-percent of it has been forgotten. People have gotten older or passed on. The old beach races, to me that was the greatest. Today it's all condominiums down there and you can hardly drive on the beach anymore. It's not like it used to be."

Question: Tell us about the first time you raced on the beach.

Packard: The first time I came here to run, I brought a '37 Buick Phaeton. I went down into the north turn, and I went sliding across the seat and ended up on the passenger side. I got back down to the pit area, which wasn't anything but a spot in the sand, and had some kids with me and I said, I can't sit in this thing. I'm sliding around on the leather seats.' So they got some rope they found on the beach and tied me in it. That was my first safety belt."

Question: Was that one of the first seat belts in the sport?

Packard: No, I imagine there were other people that had more sense than I did."

Question: You said 90 percent of the past had been forgotten. Were you disappointed when they came out with the 50 greatest people of NASCAR and they didn't look back at the people who started NASCAR?

Packard: The people that originally started it have been long forgotten and they get very little recognition. A few, like Fireball Roberts, David Pearson, Tim Flock, they get a little. Other than that, they're forgotten."

Question: What kind of promoter was Bill France?

Packard: I came from Providence, R.I., and the people in the South didn't like a Yankee winning their races. They threw bottles and rocks at me. So Bill started telling people I was from Atlanta. Once everyone believed I was from Atlanta, they liked me."

Source: Savannah Morning News

                     

Atop a hotel comes lofty idea: NASCAR

By BOB POCKRASS -  NEWS-JOURNAL STAFF WRITER      Wednesday, February 12, 2003

DAYTONA BEACH — Even the first meeting of NASCAR happened on William Henry Getty France´s turf.

France, looking to set up a race sanctioning body that would create a national championship for stock car racing, invited about 35 people to his bar, the Ebony Lounge, at the top of Daytona Beach´s Streamline Hotel on Dec. 14, 1947. During four days of meetings, the collection of drivers, car owners and track operators gave their input on how such a system should be set up.

They chose France as their leader. Ron Vogt, an Atlanta garage operator and race car owner, gave the group his registered stock-car series name -- National Stock Car Racing Association, which would become NASCAR.

“On the outcome of this meeting and the decisions reached here rests the future of stock car racing,” France told The News-Journal at the time. “If we can form a national association, we can establish sound recognition all over these United States.”

The only person alive today who went to the meeting was Sammy Packard, who drove down from Rhode Island. Packard had raced on the beach in the 1930s.

“France put out some feelers to get promoters, mechanics to come to it,” Packard said in a News-Journal interview last year. “He got us all up there. He was the pusher of the whole thing.”

Packard said the organization was important so that drivers knew the promoter would pay them instead of pocketing all the money and hightailing it out of town before the event was finished.

“That seemed to be one of the main problems we were having -- we´d get done running somewhere and the promoter would skip town with the money,” Packard said. “It happened to me several times.”

The organization formed the first somewhat true national championship.

“(The aim is to) eliminate the term ‘national championship,’ which is applied to almost every race, large or small,” France said.

The first sanctioned race was held on a new, 2.2-mile Daytona Beach sand-and-road course Feb. 15, 1948. Bob “Red” Byron won the event. Byron, who had his left shoe bolted to a special clutch because his left leg had been injured in World War II, negotiated the 68 laps around the 2.2-mile beach-and-road circuit in 1 hour, 58 minutes and 30 seconds -- an average of 75.94 mph. He pocketed $1,000 of the $3,500 purse.

About 14,000 people attended the event, the Rayson Memorial 150, which was the eighth annual race promoted on the beach by France.

Six days later, on Feb. 21, 1948, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing was incorporated.

The first official race under the NASCAR Strictly Stock banner was June 19, 1949, at New Charlotte Speedway at the Charlotte Fairgrounds.

The 200-lap race over the half-mile dirt track was won by Jim Roper of Great Bend, Kan. He was declared the winner after France disqualified Glenn Dunaway for tampering with stock suspension pieces. Roper pocketed $2,000 of the $5,000 purse for the win.

“We drove the car we raced all the way from Kansas,” Roper said in a 1998 interview. “The track was very hot and very dusty.”

On Oct. 16, 1949, NASCAR had its first champion -- Byron. He had won two of the six races and earned $5,800 for the season.

The next year, in 1950, NASCAR began to use “Grand National” to define its top racing circuit.


Last of NASCAR founders, Sammy Packard, dead at 83

By Don Coble    Morris News Service     Published Friday, March 28, 2003

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Sammy Packard watched the Daytona 500 from his home less than two miles from the Daytona International Speedway two months ago. Tickets were too expensive for the 83-year-old retiree and a sport that hands out thousands of freebies couldn't spare a couple for the last surviving founder of NASCAR.

Sammy Packard, 1960 Champion Rex White and Marvin Panch at an autograph session in the Volusia Mall, Daytona Beach, Fl

 

When the racing organization celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1998, it spent a year honoring -- and marketing -- its past. Packard wasn't invited. He didn't ask for money, but he wanted to visit, perhaps for the last time, a sport that he helped create a long time ago. Letters to NASCAR's corporate offices weren't answered.

On Sunday, the final link to racing's storied beginning, died at his home.

He was one of 32 men who met at the Ebony Room at the Streamliner Hotel in Daytona Beach on Dec. 14, 1947, to form NASCAR. Two months ago, days before the Daytona 500, he talked about his role in racing's history and how NASCAR has evolved into a billion-dollar industry.

"We were having a great deal of problems with promoters running off with the purse," he said. "We'd get done racing and we'd have no promoter, no money. This organization was put together so the promoter had to deposit the money before the race, so we were sure to get paid afterward. That's why NASCAR was started.

"Nobody expected it to get this big. None of us could imagine how big it's gotten. It's a little scary, actually. It's gotten so big, so fast, it's forgotten about 90 percent of its past. They don't care. They don't know how much work and faith it took to get this started and to keep it going. We had to ask a lot of track owners to believe in something they didn't know. It was hard work.

"The old beach races, to me that was the greatest. Today it's all condominiums down there and you can hardly drive on the beach anymore. It's not like it used to be."

And with the passing of Sammy Packard, the last original founder of NASCAR, it won't ever be the same again.

Near inducts class of 2004

EAST WINDSOR, Conn. -- Tom Curley came up with the perfect summation of the seventh annual New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame Induction Banquet at the LaRenaissance Banquet Hall Sunday.

Curley called the NEAR Hall of Fame “truly where the old heroes are,” in introducing Harmon “Beaver” Dragon, one of 10 making up the class of 2004.

Joining Dragon were legendary car owner the late Len Boehler, drivers Bill Schindler, Charlie Jarzombek, Dick Dixon and Billy Harman and Paul Trowbridge whose Checkered Flag Announcer catered to news-hungry New England racing fans in the 1960s and ‘70s.

The Special Veterans Committee inducted midget star Bob Blair, Indianapolis 500 winner Fred Frame and pioneer Sammy Packard. All were inducted posthumously as were Schindler, Jarzombek and Dixon.

New England Antique Racers Hall of Fame 2004 Inductee  Sammy Packard

Lloyd Sowers Channel 13 TV reporter in Tampa, FL interviewing Sammy Packard at the Zephrhills Antique Auto Meeting in 2000 (?)

Sammy Packard began racing midgets in 1937, in the Bay State Racing Association.  He quickly found himself supporting his family by racing seven nights a week.  He tried his hand at stock cars, too, competing in the first stock car race at the Thompson Speedway, in 1939. Sammy was also instrumental in staging the first stock car race at Lonsdale, held October 27, 1947.   In an effort to draw more fans to that first event, he and Buddy Shuman, who came up from North Carolina, went to the Lonsdale Sports Arena and staged an exhibition race for fans during the halftime break at a football game. 

Although he called Rhode Island home, Sammy raced all over the country, in midgets, stock cars, motorcycles, and even boats.  When D. Anthony Venditti flooded the infield at the Seekonk Speedway, Packard became a two time Class D New England champion. Sammy also competed in the New York Outboard Marathon, where he, along with 350 others, would start out in Albany and race down the Hudson River to New York City.

The first time Packard raced at Daytona, he threw his ’37 Buick Phaeton into the north turn, and promptly slid across the seat over to the passenger side of the car.  His crew quickly went to work, finding some rope that had been discarded on the beach, and tied him into the Phaeton.   Bill France Sr. later invited Sammy to a meeting with a group of men at the Streamline Hotel in December 1947 that resulted in the formation of NASCAR.

In 1974, Sammy Packard took on a new challenge in his auto racing career by starting an antique racecar restoration business.  He restored well over 100 racecars, which have been shipped coast to coast, and as far away as West Germany.  Today, we welcome Sammy Packard posthumously into the NEAR Hall Fame.    


Sports Illustrated  
March 31, 2003
Sammy Packard, 83, the last surviving founder of NASCAR, died of unknown causes. On Dec. 14, 1947, Packard was one of 32 racers, mechanics and promoters whom Bill France Sr. called to a summit in the Ebony Bar atop Daytona Beach's Streamline Hotel to lay the groundwork for the organization. Packard, a Providence native, was racing in Daytona, where he was a mechanic at France's gas station. "People didn't like a Yankee winning their races," he said last month. "They threw bottles and rocks at me. So Bill started telling people I was from Atlanta. Once everyone believed I was from Atlanta, they liked me."

     

IN MEMORY OF SAMMY PACKARD

March 24, 2003

The Auto Racing Legends sadly announces the passing of our esteemed member Sammy Packard. Sammy passed away at his home after a long illness on Sunday, March 23, 2003.

Sammy's racing career began in 1937 as a midget car driver in Fall River, Mass. After hearing about the racing on the beach, Sam came to Daytona in 1938, driving a 1937 Buick and won a preliminary race. As the first "Yankee" to invade the south, Sammy raced on the beach for several years before WWII.

Proudly, Sammy Packard was one of the 36 racers who assembled at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach, Fla. in 1947 to form what is now NASCAR.

In 1959,
Sammy, his lovely wife Lee and their two daughters, Rhoda and Priscilla moved to Daytona permanently.

Sammy is a member of the Bay State Midget Association, a lifetime member of the Williams Grove Old Timers, Daytona Antique Auto Racing Association and a charter member of the ARL.
In 1998, he was the first individual to receive the highest honor given by the Auto Racing Legends....ARL Legend Emeritus.

As a friend and valued member of this organization, Sammy Packard will be deeply missed.

Nascar Pioneer Passes Away

Daytona Beach, FL -- Sammy Packard, who was the last surviving participant of the meeting which formed NASCAR, died at his home here. Packard, 83, was part of Bill France Sr.'s stock-car summit meeting held at the Streamline Hotel in December 1947.

Sammy Packard with Doris Roberts, widow of Fireball Roberts, with Tom Layton's #11 Coupe Replicar on Daytona Beach during a Speedweeks beach parade in 2001

He built, owned and raced cars throughout his career. The passion for speed and the sport of racing was evidenced by his frequent hospital visits.

"Never expected to last this long," Packard told the News-Journal in February. "Figured if I got to 60 I'd be lucky. I got banged up several times. Been in the hospital 27 times . . . no reason I should be here. "There were a few racing accidents, and some regular hospital stuff -- ulcers, took my spleen out, motorcycle accidents, broken legs and things like that."

Before health problems slowed him down, Packard owned a race shop in South Daytona where he specialized in rebuilding vintage midget and sprint cars. More recently, Packard could be found in his garage at home, working on a midget car his daughter Priscilla races in vintage races around the state.

At some of those vintage shows, Packard could not resist the urge to compete and would buckle into his 1950s-era vintage sprint car.  "We're listed as an exhibition, but you don't put an old race driver in a car and tell him to take it easy," he said. "We're not supposed to be racing, but we are."

Packard was from the Northeast, living in Rhode Island, but he raced all over the country. His specialty was running midget cars throughout New England, but he'd also come south to drive Daytona's beach-road course in the late 1930s. When he came here to race in the late 1930s, he would moonlight as a mechanic at France's Main Street gas station.

One reason Packard liked to race here, other than the unusual course and nice winter weather, was that Daytona always paid the advertised purse. Packard had been burned several times by fly-by-night racing promoters of the day. Paying competitors the promised purse was a major topic of discussion at the meeting which formed NASCAR.

"What we discussed was getting money put in the bank before a race, so the promoter couldn't skip out on us," Packard said. "That seemed to be one of the main problems we were having. We'd get done running somewhere, and the promoter would skip town with the money. It happened to me several times."

While the issue of payment was important to Packard, he didn't have much to say at the meeting, even though he and two other racers drove here from Rhode Island to participate. "I didn't have a helluva lot to say. I was more or less a listener," Packard said. "I ended up being the representative of the New England area, which was nothing, because there was no NASCAR up there and I was the only person who knew about it."

Of course now NASCAR has become a big-league sport on par with the NFL or MLB. Packard watched the sport grow from club racers to corporate giants over the last 50 years. "Nobody expected anything like this," he says. "It's grown way out of proportion. It's taken everything away from the garage man. Now, you have to be a millionaire to even think about getting into it. My sponsorships used to be $25 and $50. And you were glad to get it.

"The idea in the beginning was to take care of the drivers at the smaller tracks because that's all we had. "As the last surviving member of the meeting that formed NASCAR, Packard gained a degree of notoriety, especially when NASCAR celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1998.

"It makes you know you're gonna die before too long, when you know everybody around you is dead," he says. "It gives the facts of life to you."

Pit stops

When Sammy Packard won a race on the beach course more than 60 years a, he earned $55. Admission to the infield for the 2003 Daytona 500 is $240 a person - plus a $75 charge for cars. Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Thursday, February 13, 2003.

From a Blog: By Roadmazter: Fri., April 4, 2003: Sammy Packard passed away a few days ago. Many old timers in this area will remember him as Mr. Yamaha. His little shop on US1 in South Daytona played a huge part in establishing the Yamaha bike as an acceptable, if not desirable, motorcycle when they first came into the country. I haven't seen him or his family in years and wish them well. 

Car Number: 38 - Drivers that have run the # 38: Ned Jarrett, Ted Swaim, Mel Larson, Gwyn Staley, Bob Welborn, Raul Cilloniz, Sammy Packard, Ed Markstellar, G.C. Spencer, Woodie Wilson, John Dodd Jr., Bob Hurt, Wayne Smith, Jimmy Insolo, Tom Williams, Walter Ballard, Grant Adcox, Sandy Satullo, Don Waterman, Canadian Laurent Rioux, Morgan Shepherd, Phil Barkdoll, Joe Ruttman, Alan Kulwicki, Joe Fields, Mike Laws, John Krebs, Dick Johnson, Jim Sauter, Jimmy Horton, Bobby Hamilton, Butch Gilliland, Rich Woodland, Kevin LePage, Elliott Sadler
Summary: The No. 38 hasn't visited Victory Lane since 1960, when Ned Jarrett won at Columbia.

Packard also ran the number 25

Rhode Island's final oval track gasp was in Lonsdale, next to the Blackstone River on Mendon Road, where the Stop & Shop supermarket is. The track operated from 1947 to 1956, and Sylvia, who has fond memories of watching races there, is one who makes the connection between the Ocean State and the formation of NASCAR.

Built for midget racing, and drawing crowds of more than 30,000, Lonsdale had its first stock car race on Oct. 26, 1947. It was won by Georgia driver Fonty Flock, and race promoter Bill France also came north for the race, which was a huge success. On Dec. 12, a group of 22 men, including Flock and France, met at the Streamline Inn Motel in Daytona, Fla., and formed the National Association for Stock Car Automobile Racing. "Three or four guys from New England were there, including a couple from Rhode Island," Sylvia says. "The last surviving member of that group was Rhode Island's Sammy Packard, who died a couple of years ago."

Packard, a Barrington native, raced all over the country, beginning in midgets, and was instrumental in Lonsdale's first stock car race. He also raced motorcycles and boats, and later restored more than 100 race cars. Packard told the Daytona Beach News-Journal in 2003 that NASCAR was formed to protect the drivers. "We'd get done running somewhere and the promoter would skip town with the money," he told the newspaper. "It happened to me several times."

NASCAR went from dirt ovals to paved tracks (56 events on 11 tracks in 1956) and on to become a national pastime. After the Tasca Racing Team ran its final race in 1965, Rhode Island drove into the racing sunset.

12/2/07 Blog by TODD WILHELM
WENT TO AN A.R.D.C. MIDGET SHOW IN THE EARLY SIXTIES AT THE ONTEORA
SPEEDWAY IN OLIVE BRIDGE N.Y. I REMEMBERED THE NAME SAMMY PACKARD. WHEN WE WERE VISITING FLORIDA , ED ROBBINS INTRODUCED ME TO HIM, AT AN OLD TIMERS MEET. HE HAD A FORD '60' MIDGET THERE. WE GOT TALKING ABOUT THE CHARACTER OF EACH CAR. I REMEMBER BEING IN MIDDLETOWN, AND THINKING, YOU COULD REMOVE THE NUMBERS, AND PRIME THE BODIES, LOOK AT THE CARS, AND KNOW WHO THEY BELONGED TO, JUST BY THE WAY THEY WERE BUILT. REMEMBER BUZZIE, WILL CAGLE, BOB ROSSEL CAME UP NORTH WITH GAS POWERED 327'S AND RAN THE BUTT'S OFF THE GUY'S UP HERE, THAT WERE RUNNING INJECTED 396'S AND 427'S. I ASKED BOB MALZAHN, WHO RAN A 396, 4 BL., AND GAS, WHY HE DIDN'T RUN INJECTION, "WHY WOULD I, I CAN'T GET THIS POWER ON THE GROUND'. WE USED TO GO TO THE 'SATURDAY NIGHT FIGHTS, AND SOMETIMES A RACE WOULD BREAK OUT".                                            

More info is needed on this driver.
If you have stories, stats or pictures, please send them HERE.

  Sammy Packard DRIVER Statistics

Year Age Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn
1951 31 2 of 41 0 0 0 0 0 0 25   10.0 25.0
1961 41 1 of 52 0 0 1 0 444 0 275 115 13.0 9.0
1962 42 1 of 53 0 0 0 0 45 0 110   13.0 13.0
3 years 4 0 0 1 0 489 0 410   12.0 18.0


1951 Results

Race Site Cars St Fin # Sponsor / Owner Car Laps Money Status Led
27 Langhorne 36   25     Ford  /150 25   0
32 Thompson 38 10 25     Ford  /200 0   0
2 starts, 0 of 350 laps completed (0.0%), 0 laps led

 Win:       0 (  0.0%)     Average start:  10.0     Total Winnings: $25
 Top 5:    0 (  0.0%)     Average finish: 25.0      (excluding bonuses)
 Top 10:  0 (  0.0%)     DNF: 0
 

1961 Results

Race Site Cars St Fin # Sponsor / Owner Car Laps Money Status Led
29 Norwood 18 13 9 38 Matt DeMatthews Ford 444/500 275 running 0
1 start, 444 of 500 laps completed (88.8%), 0 laps led

 Win:       0 (  0.0%)     Average start:  13.0     Total Winnings: $275
 Top 5:    0 (  0.0%)     Average finish:  9.0       (excluding bonuses)
 Top 10:  1 (100.0%)     DNF: 0
 

1962 Results

Race Site Cars St Fin # Sponsor / Owner Car Laps Money Status Led
44 Valdosta 13 13 13 38 Matt DeMatthews Ford 45/200 110 piston  
1 start, 45 of 200 laps completed (22.5%), 0 laps led

 Win:       0 (  0.0%)     Average start:  13.0     Total Winnings: $110
 Top 5:    0 (  0.0%)     Average finish: 13.0      (excluding bonuses)
 Top 10:  0 (  0.0%)     DNF: 1
 




 

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