"How Good Was"Little Joe?" A Historiogaphical Reappraisal of Joe Weatherly, 1962 and 1963 NASCAR Grand National Champion"
By Don Capps for Jonathan Summers
Besides organizing the 2016 Jean S. Argetsinger Symposium on International Motor Racing History in conjunction with the International Motor Racing Research Center then acting as Master of Ceremonies for the event Don Capps stepped in to present for Jonathan Summers and his paper titled "How Good Was"Little Joe?" A Historiogaphical Reappraisal of Joe Weatherly, 1962 and 1963 NASCAR Grand National Champion."
Jon could not attend the event so Don stepped up to serve in his behalf.
For those who may not know, as the title makes clear NASCAR race car driver Joe Weatherly was a two-time back-to-back Grand National Champion. Joe Weatherly according to Jon Summers was a somewhat under estimated racing quantity given his extremely jovial, "clownish" interpersonal relations with the other drivers, fans and the media. His ever joking nature lead some not to take him as seriously as his apparently more stoic and reserved competitors, yet nevertheless when he drove he drove hard and fast.
Before meeting his unfortunate and untimely death during the 1964 Motor Trend 400 at Riverside International Raceway, California, Joe was one heck of an unique motorsports racer, he successfully competed at top level motorcycle racing winning three American Motorcycle Association (AMA) nationals between 1946 and 1950, two NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup) Championships in 1962 and 1963, competed in 230 NASCAR race events and was well on his way to becoming an inductee to the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2009 and NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2015 as well as having been named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998. In 1998 he was also inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. WOW!!!
Weatherly's fatal crash was instrumental in NASCAR implementing mandatory use of the safety net as part of the driver's window car set up.
Affectionately nicknamed, "the Clown Prince of Racing" for his lightheartedness and never ceasing antics. Joe Weatherly was no joke as a competitor or a man. He merely approached life, it and his challenges in a humorous manner to relieve the tension and simply have a lot of fun.
This paper ended the 2016 second annual Jean S. Argetsinger Symposium on International Motor Racing History.