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
was a NASCAR driver from Barrington, RI. He competed in
four Grand National events in his career, earning one
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
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
(Photo: The Daytona Beach
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.
Savannah Morning News
Packard: I think
there were 31-32 of us
there. Bill France contacted
us, different people --
promoters -- and had us
gather at one place to start
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
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
Question: That was
one of the main reasons to
years later, looking back at
what this organization has
become, what's your overall
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
Packard: No one
imagined it would possibly
get as big as it is today."
Question: Even at 83,
are you still involved in
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
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
Question: Was Bill
France the ultimate
Question: What made
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
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?
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
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
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?
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
Question: Tell us
about the first time you
raced on the beach.
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
Question: Was that
one of the first seat belts
in the sport?
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?
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
Question: What kind
of promoter was Bill
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
Atop a hotel comes
lofty idea: NASCAR
BOB POCKRASS - NEWS-JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
Wednesday, February 12, 2003
— Even the first meeting of NASCAR happened on William
Henry Getty France´s turf.
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
“(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.”
Oct. 16, 1949, NASCAR had its first champion -- Byron.
He had won two of the six races and earned $5,800 for
The next year, in 1950, NASCAR began to use “Grand
National” to define its top racing circuit.
Near inducts class of
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
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
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.
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
New England Antique Racers Hall of Fame
2004 Inductee Sammy
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.
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.
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.
83, the last surviving
died of unknown
causes. On Dec. 14, 1947,
Packard was one of 32
racers, mechanics and
Bill France Sr.
called to a summit in the
Ebony Bar atop
Streamline Hotel to lay the
groundwork for the
organization. Packard, a
Providence native, was
racing in Daytona, where he
was a mechanic at
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
Once everyone believed I was
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
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.
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
Nascar Pioneer Passes
-- 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.
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
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.
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.
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
"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."
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.
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.
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."
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.
- Drivers that have run the # 38:
Ned Jarrett, Ted
Swaim, Mel Larson, Gwyn Staley, Bob Welborn,
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,
Summary: The No. 38 hasn't visited
Victory Lane since 1960, when Ned Jarrett
won at Columbia.
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
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
WENT TO AN A.R.D.C.
MIDGET SHOW IN THE EARLY SIXTIES AT THE
IN OLIVE BRIDGE N.Y. I REMEMBERED THE
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
Sammy Packard DRIVER Statistics
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Copyright © 2003
by Roland Via. All rights reserved. Revised:
06/08/12 08:11:17 -0400.
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