Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Phone call from Hershel McGriff
A couple nights ago I got one of the coolest phone calls I have ever received. It was none other than Hershel McGriff who won the 1950 La Carrera Panamericana. Of course it would be unfair to point out he won more races than I can count including Nascar, World Championships and more. Hershel called me at home and we spent quite a while swapping stories about things we have in common besides the fact that we have both raced the La Carrera Panamericana. Hershel was born and raised in Oregon like myself and he owned a lumber mill just like my father. We talked about his involvement in the La Carrera Panamericana and we discussed the way things were done back then versus the way they are done today. Even though they didn't have transit stages back when Hershel ran it he said it sounds exactly how things were done when he raced it.
I couldn't help but laugh when Hershel told me how many things posted about him on the Internet were completely wrong such as where he was born, his involvement in Nevada mining and more. He does however own a mining company in Arizona and he was gracious enough to invite me down to his home to do an interview for our HD DVD. I am really excited and looking forward to meeting another historical figure with regards to La Carrera Panamericana.
McGriff's racing career spans four decades of NASCAR competition from the rough-and-tumble 1950s to the finely tuned 90s. He was the winner of the first Carrera Panamericana in 1950, where he met NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. France convinced McGriff to come south and race in NASCAR races at Daytona Beach, the first Southern 500 race at Darlington Raceway.
France convinced McGriff to race full-time in NASCAR in 1954. He had his four wins that year in the Grand National series. He had 17 Top 10 finishes in 24 events, and finished sixth in the final points standings. McGriff's average finishing position was higher than points champion Lee Petty.