Best of 2020: The 1965 Southern 500 At Darlington Raceway

Best of 2020: The 1965 Southern 500 At Darlington Raceway

All too often, we hear a cry for a simpler time, the old days, the way it used to be. Is that really what you want? It’s easy to wax lyrical about what used to be. But that doesn’t mean it was what you want. You’d like to see truly stock cars racing around a track, but do you really want that? Do you want to know what happens to a barely-modified car when things go wrong on a superspeedway? You miss the old way of doing things, huh? So you won’t mind a minor bit of history revisionism, or mind seeing your younger sister vying for a pageant before the race, then. But the racing will make up for the downfalls, you say. Okay then, let’s run with that…with tires that are sketchy at best, engines that were at a high risk of blowing up, and generally about five really hot-to-trot racers leading a pack of local boys who knew to get the hell out of their way when they were being lapped once again. Oh, let’s not forget sub-140 mile per hour speeds while we are at it, shall we?

There’s a bit of fond memories looking back, no doubt. Ford and Plymouth at each other’s throat, Pontiac and Mercury still fighting it out, that we’re all about. Buddy Baker, Ned Jarrett and Cale Yarborough? That’s a hell of a lineup of drivers. Throwing care out of the window and racing with an axle that was hot enough to catch fire if you even thought about the brake pedal? Can you imagine if that went on today? I can almost hear the NASCAR official on the radio losing his ever-loving mind. As you’re watching this, though, keep in mind the realities of the racing: Yarborough was damn lucky to escape out of that wreck. W. Buren Skeen wasn’t so lucky…he died about a week later from the injuries he sustained, and one look at his caved-in car will tell you why.

It’s the way it was, for better or for worse, at the Southern 500 at Darlington. Be sure to be back at the time machine by the scheduled departure time on your itinerary.

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