Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum Sends Three Cars to Darlington Historic Racing Festival


DARLINGTON, S.C. (July 20, 2009) – The entry list for the Darlington Historic Racing Festival presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts continues to grow with the latest additions coming from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum in Speedway, Indiana.

The museum will send three cars to Darlington Raceway for the two-day festival planned for September 26-27. All three cars raced at Darlington Raceway in the 1950’s, with one car, a 1950 Russo-Nichels Special, thundering to victory at Darlington.

“Having these three Indy cars at Darlington for the Historic Racing Festival is special because all three have raced here,” said track President, Chris Browning. “With the history these cars have at Darlington they will be a centerpiece of this event and will be on display in our Moment in Time tent for the entire weekend.”

The three cars on display from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum will include:

• 1950 Russo-Nichels Special

The Russo-Nichels Special was actually built in the basement of the Hammond, Indiana home of its driver, Paul Russo by Russo and his chief mechanic, Ray Nichels. It had to be partially dismantled in order to be removed, earning the nickname, "Basement Bessie." By the time of the final AAA Championship race of the year, at the brand-new Darlington Raceway, Russo was trying to make a comeback after being sidelined with an arm injury. In the meantime, 1950 Indianapolis winner Johnnie Parsons, delayed by travel woes, arrived to discover that another driver was in his car. Russo and Nichels decided to turn "Basement Bessie" over to Parsons and the unlikely combination won the Darlington race.

• 1954 Dean Van Lines Special

Jimmy Bryan finished third in the 1954 Darlington 200, driving the same Dean Van Lines Special with which he had finished second at Indianapolis five weeks earlier. These finishes were quite remarkable in that the Eddie Kuzma-built Offenhauser-powered car was designed for use on dirt tracks. Bryan did win five dirt track races in 1954, including the last four in succession to capture the 1954 AAA National title by a huge margin.

• 1956 Wolcott Special

Built primarily for dirt tracks, the Wolcott Special was driven by Rodger Ward in the 1956 Darlington 200. Seen in the attached photo at Indianapolis that May, the driver is Len Sutton, who would end up as Ward's teammate in the one-two finish by the Leader Card team at Indianapolis in 1962. Behind Sutton are fellow "500" drivers Clark "Shorty" Templeman and Jack Turner, plus the famed radio broadcaster, Sid Collins, "The Voice of the 500."

The Darlington Historic Racing Festival presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts will take place on Saturday and Sunday, September 26-27. The event will offer fans two days of excitement featuring question and answer sessions with racing legends, exhibition laps by over 100 historic race cars including stock cars, Indy roadsters, midgets and modifieds, autograph sessions, a large display and vendor area, car corrals, and a variety of other activities.

Darlington Raceway or the track “Too Tough to Tame” as it is known to many, is where the purest of NASCAR competition meets true southern hospitality. A NASCAR staple since 1950, Darlington Raceway has seen some of motorsports most talented drivers thunder to Victory Lane. In 2009, a NASCAR tradition, the Southern 500®, returned to Darlington Raceway as part of the famed track’s celebration of 60 Seasons of Racing.

Don’t miss the 2009 Darlington Historic Racing Festival presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts. The event will feature something for the entire family. Tickets for the event are $15 per day or $25 for the entire weekend, kids age 12 and under will be

admitted free and each admission includes access to the garage and infield area. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Darlington Raceway ticket office at 843-395-8802 or online at

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