This article I wrote a few years ago but still applies today. I made a couple of updates but isn’t it awesome to still see one of the all time greats continue to wheel a racecar with the younger generation!
Terry Who? Can you believe I have heard that statement more than once this year? That guy that drives the #53 Grand National (now the #5 B Mod), you old folks (I am not even 50 yet and they are calling me old?) tell us he was a great driver but we young folks don’t see it. What? You got to be kidding me and then I realize time moves on. I have been attending races in the Missouri and Kansas area since 1964 (six years old). My uncle started racing at Humansville, Missouri in 1964 and normally competed at Cabool, Mountain Grove, Willow Springs, West Plains, Bolivar, Springfield Fairgrounds, and Rolla. Our family has lived in Kansas City since 1966 so Lakeside on Friday and Riverside on Saturday nights. Then in 1969 I-70 Speedway opened and we occasionally made it to that track, I mean understand I was only 11 and dependent on Dad for a ride to the track and I-70 Speedway was a way out there. On the bright side there used to be gas wars then, stations would try to sell gas for less, average price I remember during a gas war was $.19 a gallon. Oh those were the days… Back to this guy, Terry Who?
Terry who is Terry Bivins. For the young group that was still in diapers and training pants in the late 60s and early 70s I would suggest doing a google search on Terry Bivins. Maybe we old folks should be saying Google Who at this point or what the heck is a google, anyway you young folks understand. You will find some amazing stats including in the 1976 Daytona 500 he had an 8th place finish and he led a lap (this was the race Pearson and Petty crashed heading to the finish line and Pearson re-fired and crossed first). You will also find that he finished second in Rookie of the Year and that became a bone of contention and politics for Bivins’ and all his fans. Yep, politics played out on Cup scene even back then, Terry had more points and better finishes and yet for those of us locally you could say he just flat got the shaft. Understand he was a great driver! He could have been the person that Darrell Waltrip became because like Darrell, Terry will speak his mind. Picture for a moment, Terry Bivins in television doing some crazy boogity stunt at the start of a race. Terry spoke his mind then and he does today, however, back then I think he was more controversial then he is today. Today he talks from the past just like many “elderly statesman”.
Let’s back up a few years to when he was racing locally and the controversy Terry was involved in. Clyde Ellis, then I-70 pit steward tells of the time he had to set Terry down for not following the rules. Dad and I were at Lakeside the night Terry and Dave Wall got together on the back straight and Wall flew over the turn 3 wall landing on his roof down the tall hill outside of the track. Needless to say, it appeared to be racing incident but the crowd was upset with Mr. Bivins that night. It became a Dave Wall/Terry Bivins rivalry and there were others. Even in that day because he was winning so much he was accused of cheating. Some of his work could be described as creative, some borderline, and some just outstanding ingenuity. Just like today though he was a winner back then and we all know all winners are cheating, just think if they would have had traction control back then?
He has been to the top and done it, but this sport is more of a “what have you done for me recently sport?”, thus people asking me Terry Who. Times have changed since Terry was in Cup. Times have changed since Terry raced locally. Terry stopped racing for a number of years and became a fisherman. Always competitive he was as good at fishing as he was at driving and won fishing tournaments. That competitive nature is what has brought him back to racing.
Gone are old archrivals Larry Phillips (I saw them run side by side for 100 laps at the Springfield Fairgrounds), Dick Trickle, shoot even that youngster Rusty Wallace has retired. While he was gone fishing the racing world changed. In his day they utilized the same car for both dirt and asphalt racing. Today there are many differences in the suspension setup between dirt and asphalt cars. Racing has become more specialized. Late Models in the 70s were the same cars that were available on the show room floor. Today’s cars involve frames and suspension parts made strictly for racing. The closest cars to the cars of yesterday are the Factory Stock or Street Stock cars. Safety has also changed. I am glad to see in some of the old pictures of Mr. Bivins he utilized a full face helmet, but where was the window net? Actually window nets did not become a requirement until the mid 70s after the Richard Petty crash at Darlington in 1970 when his arm came out of his rolling car. I wonder if there was as much complaining about adding a window net as there has been about a head and neck restraint system.
There again is the difference in age as time has changed items in the race car that were not available in Terry’s hey day. I will say Terry did email his objections to a head and neck restraint system during the winter but he does compete with one. The difference in cars from the 60s and 70s is so much different than the race cars of today especially for returning past champions. My uncle last raced in 1973 at the Rolla track and yes Terry Bivins was there along with a young 16 year old driver named Rusty Wallace. When my uncle walked away from racing he stayed away until 1993 when he was part owner of a dirt late model that competed at the West Plains track. One night the pit crew challenged my uncle to hot lap the late model which any racer will gladly oblige. However, the set up of the car, the light weight of the car, and the horsepower provided by today’s engine, he promptly put it into the wall. Does that remind you of Terry Who when he returned to racing?
One of the great things about our sport compared to other sports is age is not a factor. We have teenagers racing against grandpas. In football when a player turns 30 he is on the downside of his career. In baseball a player may still be active until about age 40. In racing there is no age limit. Terry Who is C.A.R.B Hall of Famer Terry Bivins. One of the original fifteen inducted into the first class of the Hall of Fame. Don’t know if it was coincidence or if being inducted re-lit the spark but Terry, now in his 70s, is again racing. We are fortunate to have racers like Terry return to racing. He challenged me to mix it up with those on the internet at this year’s Hall of Fame dinner that is why I agreed to do a blog. Oh and did I mention he was challenging me while complaining about a lack of Lakeside practice time? Now the challenge to Terry, get that #53 (now #5) back in victory lane so you can reclaim your last name. Oh yeah, remember to read the rules, all the rules.