Saturday, December 2, 2000
Racing was monkey business
By Lisette Hilton
Special to ESPN.com
Feb. 27, 1955 - Tim Flock was so angry when he was disqualified on a technicality at Daytona last year that he quit driving, vowing never to compete in a NASCAR race again. But Flock grew bored and made a brief return late in 1954.
Although he came back to Daytona Beach in February 1955, it was only as a spectator. However, after seeing Carl Kiekhaefer's new Chrysler 300, Flock's eyes lit up and he wanted back in. Kiekhaefer gave him the ride.
Flock won the pole for the 160-mile Grand National event on Daytona's Beach and Road Course with a speed of 130 mph. But before a crowd of 27,000 at today's 39-lap race, Flock was not as successful. Racing his car at 92 mph, he crossed the finish line in one hour, 44 minutes and 17 seconds. That was one minute and 14 seconds behind Fireball Roberts.
But the next morning, Flock got a measure of revenge for last year when it was announced that Roberts had been disqualified because his push rods had been altered. Flock's victory was worth $2,350 of the $9,775 purse. It was the first time a car equipped with an automatic transmission won at Daytona.
Odds 'n' Ends
Tim's mother Maudie was known as "Big Momma."
In his spare time, Tim's father Lee was a tightrope walker and bicycle racer.
Returning from the Army in 1942, Tim worked several jobs, including that of a taxi driver, fireman and an ironworker.
Married and broke, Flock and his wife Frances moved in with her parents for a few months.
Flock made the decision to become a fulltime racecar driver in 1949 and moved his family to Winston-Salem, N.C.
Painted on the trunk of Flock's racing car in 1949 was this message: "If you can read this you are too damn close!"
Flock won seven of his 30 starts in 1951 and eight of 33 in 1952 before slipping in 1953, winning just once in 26 races.
Jocko Flocko, a rhesus monkey that Flock sometimes put in his racing car with him in 1953, wore a racing suit and goggles. A nylon safety belt kept him in his seat and he was elevated so he could look out the window.
Flock sued Champion Spark Plug Co., the owner of the car that ran him over in 1953. They settled out of court.
In 1954, because he temporarily quit the sport after being disqualified at Daytona, Flock competed in only five races. He didn't win any of them.
Flock started driving for Kiekhaefer in a car with an automatic transmission in 1955, but insisted on a stick shift. On Kiekhaefer's orders, Chrysler built a straight stick transmission to go into the 300 series.
While racing for Kiekhaefer in 1955, Flock received $2,500 a month in salary.
Flock's check for winning the 1955 NASCAR Grand National championship was $5,000.
Flock admitted to heavy drinking and brawling as part of his life on the road.
Flock had 102 top five finishes in his 189 races.
The Flock brothers won a combined 63 Grand National races and $185,115 in prize money.
Besides Tim, Fonty and Bob are also members of the National Motorsports Press Association's Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame. Fonty died of cancer two months before Tim was inducted in 1972.
Tim was inducted into the Georgia Athletic Hall of Fame in 1977 and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1991.
Tim and Frances Flock owned a video business, but closed it in 1992.
They were married 54 years and had five children: Richard, Donald, Carl, Joy and Peggy.
Flock didn't have any health insurance when he died in 1998. Many tried to raise money for Flock and his family to help pay off the medical bills.