Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fireball Gets His Due

Edward Glenn "Fireball" Roberts is what you'd call a legend.

The Floridian driver, who got his start on the hard-packed Daytona sand, racked up 33 wins in his NASCAR career - including one at the 1962 Daytona 500.  He finished second in points in his rookie season and set an impressive 400 NASCAR records all told.

Roberts' outstanding career was much too short.  He died 37 days after being pulled from a fiery wreck at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1964.

Today, the folks at the NASCAR Hall of Fame announced via Facebook that Roberts' jacket and its contents will be displayed at the Hall's Heritage Speedway exhibit when  it opens next month.  And my guess is that the driver will officially be inducted into the Hall of Fame in the next couple years.

But Fireball recently received another more subtle tribute, courtesy of a pre-eminent American songwriter.  The John Hiatt-penned "Fireball Roberts" is track number 10 on Hiatt's new album "The Open Road." 

"Got a 57 Ford baby, paint it Fireball Roberts white and red
Got a 57 Ford baby, paint it Fireball Roberts white and red
Got a 57 Ford baby, paint it Fireball Roberts white and red
I haven't run my last race darlin', but I sometimes wish I did."

As is the guiding principle of John Hiatt's music - this song is more than worthy of a listen.

In addition to Hiatt's blues-tinged tribute, my buddies The Cedar Creek Boys included a Fireball-inspired tune on their CD "Ain't Nothin' But Music" - you can check it out on their Facebook page.

Photo info: Fireball Roberts drove this 1957 Holman Moody prepared Ford for NASCAR.  However, the car was supercharged, and NASCAR later banned supercharged cars from running, so Roberts later ran the car in the USAC circuit.

1 comment:

  1. Fireball -- whatta Florida boy.

    The nickname actually came to Glenn early -- legend has it he earned the handle "Fireball" as a pitcher for the Zellwood Mud Hens. Ironically, the handle fit his end as well.

    A number of great Fireball Roberts tune, including "Fireball Rolled A Seven" by Dave Dudley:

    He had the pole at Darlington; he won it off the rail.
    And he run away at Charlotte, 600 miles of Hell.
    A slingshot sewed up Petty; he was out in front real fast.
    A checkered flag was in the bag; nobody would get past. …

    Johnny Bond did a song titled "Fireball" on his album, "Sick, Sober & Sorry."

    I give Roberts lengthy treatment as part of my post "Orange Blossom Special" over at Ovalscreams

    Great post -- be well --