The early years of NASCAR featured at least one kind of diversity: an astonishing variety of cars on the track. Here’s a big photo essay celebrating the colorful weekly car show that was NASCAR. -Photo above by John Lacko Photography
In NASCAR Sprint Cup circa 2013, there are three manufacturers—Chevrolet, Ford, and Toyota—competing with three body styles: Fusion, Chevy SS, and Camry. And sure, the competition is close, but there’s not much variety on display.
Compare and contrast to the first several decades of NASCAR, when dozens of years, makes, and models were all competing on the track at the same time. For example. in the Grand National Series 1969-70, fans could find Ford Fairlane, Galaxie, Torino, Thunderbird, Comet, and Cyclone body styles trying to make the show. And those were just the Fords. Plymouth, Dodge, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Olds, Buick, and American Motors products were in the mix as well.
Check out the lead photo: There’s the King, Richard Petty, up in the top lane running the latest Ford equipment for 1969, the aero-beaked Torino Talladega. Running the bottom is the legendary African-American privateer Wendell Scott in a ’67 Galaxie. Actually, the car is probably older than that—most likely a reskin, the only good reason to be running a full-sized chassis in 1969. Scott won just one career Grand National race, but he raced as far on a dollar as anyone in NASCAR.
But hey, times change. For one thing, many of the brands that once raced in NASCAR don’t even exist anymore: Pontiac, Plymouth, Oldsmobile, Mercury, American Motors. And racing has become so specialized, sophisticated, and expensive that it’s no longer possible for teams to race any brand without manufacturer funding and technical support. Advanced technology and corporate uniformity now rule the day.
But fortunately, we can look back to a time when when stock cars were mainly stock, and variety was part of the show. By the way, we slipped in some ringers. These aren’t all Grand National cars. As teasers, included are a few cars from other NASCAR series from years gone by: the convertibles (previously featured at MCG), the compacts, and the Sportsmen. Look for future MCG features on these great cars. Gallery below.