It's a bright yellow, 1968 Ford Torino with a blue No. 98 blazing on the door that just happened to win the 1968 ARCA Championship. And for many old-timers, it's just about as well-known as the driver who wheeled it to a dominating 11 victories-one Benny Parsons
This car provided the turning point for a career that was going nowhere before the 1968 season. Following a seventh-place finish in the ARCA points championship in 1963, lack of funds curtailed Parsons' racing for several seasons.
However, it all turned around with this Ford Motor Company machine. The No. 98 Torino finished fourth or better in 21 of the 29 races it ran. This yellow beauty also set an ARCA qualifying record of 179.459 mph for the Daytona 200. The speed was five miles per hour faster than the second quick time
Following Parsons' tenure, the car was returned to the legendary Holman and Moody shops, where Wendell Scott, the first and only black man to win a Grand National event, acquired it. Scott raced the car in the 1969 and 1970 ARCA seasons. The car was badly damaged at the now-closed Trenton (N.J.) Speedway in its second season, after which it was reskinned as a 1971 Torino with blue paint and carryed the No. 34. Scott and the car competed in the Grand National East Division through 1972.
The car then sat for six years until it was acquired by Neil Castles for the movie Greased Lightning, which was about Wendell Scott's life as a race car driver and starred Richard Pryor. Current owner Richard Turner found the tattered machine in a field outside Hartford, Conn. In 1995, the car was restored to its current condition.
"It was a mess," Turner recalled. "There was no engine, no transmission and a lot of rust. It wasn't a pretty sight. When I paid $6,000 for it, my wife thought I was nuts." The car was then restored back to Parsons' color scheme.
Turner will tell you that there were some small liberties taken with the sheetmetal as the car now carries a Talladega nosepiece, which wasn't available until 1969. In fact, the car more closely resembles the car that Parsons drove during the 1969 season when he again won the Daytona 200.
"I own a Talladega street car and wanted this car to match it," Turner explained.
The owner also indicated an iteresting sidebar on the car that his research had uncovered.
"I found out that the car was driven by Parnelli Jones in USAC competition during the 1967 season before Benny got it," he said. Parnelli drove the No. 15 Torino out west in California and proved successful. That fact alone certainly makes this car a significant '60s stock car
An investigation of the machine provides a glimpse at the technology of the period. The 427ci Ford mill that powered the 3,400-pound car was capable of 450-500hp. The center-oiler powerplant carried a tunnel-port intake mounting a pair of four-barrel carbs. The tranny was a top-loader Ford hooked to a nodular 4.31 rear end. The springs were heavy-duty with Gabriel Regal Ride shocks.
Needless to say, looking at the 30-plus-year-old machine with its original-type pieces, it's easy to say the car closely resembled "stock." Note that the stock bumpers are still in place along with the door handles, and even the inside window cranks! The rear spoiler was a triangular piece across the rear deck-again a piece that was closer to stock than the curved plates of today's machines.
Parsons himself has seen the yellow beauty and said it certainly brought back memories. Today, Turner displays the car at many shows and finds that many race fans today wish that the "stock" in "stock car" meant more like the situation with old No. 98!