Gas, Tires, Shoe
That story reminds me of an incident also at North Wilkesboro. I was driving for owners Butch Mock and Bob Rahilly. Robin Pemberton, crew chief for Rusty Wallace, was a member of the crew.

I accelerate and brake with my right foot. On a short track, I'm moving that foot back and forth just about all the time. I didn't realize the sole of my right wing tip was thin, and a hole came in it during the race. The hole would get hung on the accelerator and make it hard to switch to the brake. I called Butch on the radio and told him I needed someone to go to the hauler and get me a right wing-tip shoe. "Get what?" he asked, dumfounded. I explained my predicament. We decided to pit on the next caution and change the shoe. During the stop, Pemberton climbed through the right-side window, jerked the shoe off as I held up my foot and stuck the other one on. I would think I'm the only driver who has gotten gas, tires, and a shoe on a pit stop.

Tough Decision
The point of this story is that when the late Bill France Sr., father of NASCAR and big-league stock-car racing, decided to get something done, he did it. Also, as in my case, he was understanding and forgiving. At the opening of what's now Talladega Superspeedway, most of the top drivers and teams boycotted the inaugural race in 1969. They charged that tires would not withstand speeds of nearly 200 mph. However, Mr. France, who had built the 2.66-mile speedway and was proud of it, considered the boycott a slam on him. Reluctantly, I sided with the drivers. It was a tough decision. Maybe I regret it, and maybe I don't. I just felt that if all the name guys were going to sit out and I, a newcomer, was going to make a living in NASCAR, I wouldn't accomplish anything by having the top guys upset with me. The race was run, as Mr. France had promised, with a makeshift field of cars.

I explained my position to him later, and he accepted it. We were good friends for a long time. He pioneered the sport, and I firmly believe he envisioned it getting as big as it is. There has not been another boycott instigated by drivers and teams.

Race to Atlanta
I won the August '76 race at Talladega in the K&K Insurance Dodge. I had told my friend and guest, Bob Prott, from Wausau, Wisconsin, that I would drive him to the Atlanta airport (about 100 miles) after the race to catch his flight. He was on a tight schedule, but I didn't count on winning the race and going to the post-race activities. To go to Atlanta, you had to go through a bunch of time-consuming small towns.

We hopped into my '69 Camaro, and I was wondering how I was going to get him to the airport on time. Then I realized that a 75- to 80-mile stretch of Interstate 20 to Atlanta was almost completed but not open to the public. I jumped on that highway; there wasn't another vehicle in sight, and I probably got up to 120 mph. All of a sudden, I met a highway-patrol car headed in the opposite direction. I slowed a bit, but I knew he would turn around and come after me.

We were about five miles from where the interstate ended, and we had to get off. I went up an exit ramp and there were five or six cars at a traffic signal. It was pretty obvious that the cars had been on the interstate illegally. I was trapped. The patrolman stopped behind me and turned on his blue lights. I got out of the car and handed the officer my driver's license. He looked back and forth at my license and at me. He said I had just won the race. I said, "Yes, sir, that's me." He asked where I was going in such a hurry. I explained and added that I knew I wasn't supposed to be on the interstate. He asked how fast I was going when we met. Probably 90, I said. He said he didn't clock me, but at least I was honest. He said I was capable of handling the speed but warned me to use my head too. He told me he would call ahead to the next town and let the patrolman there know I was coming through. Then he asked for two postcards, which I gladly autographed.