No Candy Coating
By J.T. LeFever
Billy Teegarden is one of the most colorful and expressful drivers I ever heard speak. One of the very few
that calls it like he sees it no matter what. He didn’t care if the President of the United States was standing
there, if he felt he was right he said it his way. Billy was also a very good listener. It didn’t matter who you
were if you had something to say, he would listen. Billy is very intense when it comes to the people that
supported him, and that says a lot about the man.
Around the grandstands he was often called Billy T. Around the pits you might hear him called Dago. But as
early as I can remember he has always been called one of the greatest ever. One thing you’ll never be able to
call Billy Teegarden is a sellout.
You always knew when Billy T was out there driving. You could spot his famous duck taped helmet. Yeah
other drivers used it as well, but none used it as often with such quantity. To me most definitely the
undisputed 100 mph tape King of the World.
I enjoyed being a kid and playing with the gang of kids Billy T brought to the track. Billy Jr, Danny, Lisa,
Angie, Donnie, and William. Not to mention the countless other kids who’s parents were there to watch Billy
I’ll never forget an early 80’s summer afternoon at Lawrenceburg, Indiana Speedway. A huge crowd gathered
under a shade tree listening and laughing to Billy Teegarden, Vern LeFevers, and Charlie Swartz talk about
the old days together. Not a one of us left without our sides hurting. I said from the moment I walked off that
I wished I had a tape recorder there.
Well 20 plus years later I’m very thankful that I got the chance to sit down to interview and laugh with one of
the most candid race car drivers ever. You’ll see that Billy Teegarden is still true to himself, still calls it like
he sees it, and is still one of the greatest ever. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I have.
JT LeFever: Billy where were you born?
Billy Teegarden: Bracken County, Kentucky around Milford, Kentucky in 1937. I was born in a damn
holler over there (Laugh). There wasn’t even a damn road into it (Laugh).
JT: How many brothers did you have?
Billy T: Five of us. Cut, Bus, Jay, Me, and Hank. They are all dead but one and that’s Bus. Henry (Hank)
was the oldest, I was underneath of him, then Jay was underneath of me, and then Bus, and then Cut. Cut’s
name was Richard and Bus’s name was Jim.
JT: Didn’t you serve in the Marines when you were younger?
Billy T: Yeah, I went in the Marines when I was 18 years old. I was in from 1955 to1958. Me and my
brother went in. You remember my brother Hank?
Billy T: We went into the Marines together. Hank raced. He run out there at Northern (Florence
Speedway). He and your Dad raced out there a good bit. In fact when Tri County opened up I went to Tri
County and they kinda stayed there at Northern and run. The guys I was driving for wanted to race Tri
JT: Was that the #43 car?
Billy T: No, I was driving John Tobin’s Dodge Hemi (#8). Me and John went up there and run, and kinda
got to winning some. So, you know how it is you kinda stay around were you run the best.
JT: How did you get your start in dirt track racing?
Billy T: A guy by the name Stan Bowman, help me build my first car. And that was in 1959. We raced
around, and then I got to driving those super modifieds. They was half sprint car and half modified and I run
them for about 5 years. Got out of them and built a 1955 Chev. Those Modifieds I drove for George
Conner’s and those guys, you know they was a lot older then me and knew a hell of a lot more about racing
then I did. And I learned a lot of him. Cause he had some good guys driving for him before me you know.
He had some Indianapolis drivers driving for him. Jim McQuitty and them guys. I learned a whole lot off
him, cause he was far out in front of me at that time you know. He ran the old AAA sprints and stuff like
that back in his day, cause he use to tell me about running that board track in Chicago. But after I got my
ass busted about two or three times in them (laughs). I think I raced them 5 years and wound up in the
hospital 3 times. Then I kinda went to the Late Models and got to racing out there at Florence and raced
them ever since.
JT: Did you go racing before you started driving?
Billy T: Oh yeah, I went to the races from the time I was 8 or 9 years old you know. We use to go to Glen
Este back in the 40’s. I use to ride over there with an old guy that lived over in Bracken County by the
name of Lyndon Thomas. We used to go up there and Carl Kiser win everything back then you know. He
was pretty damn good now.
JT: Do you recall you first Late Model car you got into?
Billy T: Oh man, I drove for so damn many people I can’t hardly remember. The guy I drove the super
modifieds and the sprint car for, he bought a ford in 1967 and we won the Championship at Northern in it.
Then in 1968 he had a heart attack and died. Then I just started driving here and there. I drove for Will
Wagner, Duncan Machinery, Morgan Chandler, Larry Morrison, Lloyd Ruth, Bruce Mertz, Earl Rogers.
There is just so many right on up the line. But you know the one thing about racing. The car owners and
crew that help you don’t never get what they suppose to out of it. Everybody says the driver, but hell the
drivers just a piece. Just like when I was young. I had a guy, he went with me. His name was Perry Kendall,
and he would quit his job in a minute to go racing. He helped me take care of that car and if it wasn’t for him
I wouldn’t have won a whole lot of races that I won. You got to have good people around you working on
them cars or you can’t win anything. You take Ringo (Johnny Bell) he towed my cars for years. In fact me
and Johnny went to school together.
JT: What was your favorite car?
Billy T: Well, I don’t know. I guess probably the most dependable and the most money making car would
have had to been Duncan Machinery #59. Of course Morgan Chandler had an awful good car, but Duncan
Machinery was wrapped up in money and they had them two boys that worked on them cars. The Grinder
boys, Logan and Charlie Grinder and that was their job to keep that race car going. And they kept it going.
In fact when you drove it you just didn’t hardly lose. If you lost it was an accident. I’ll tell you what I done.
When they hired me, they called me up on a Wednesday and I was driving that black #23 for Mike
Sheppard and Will Wagner and goddamn they was good guys and we were doing good. I hated to quit. But
they (Duncan) told me if you want to drive our car meet us at Clay City. They were running a hundred lap
feature down there. So, I go down there and they ain’t there. So I stand there and stand there and
qualifying is about over and here they come in. Now I ain’t had a lap in the car or nothing you know. So I’m
standing around there and Logan says get in there, take it out there and put it on the pole and get back in
here we need to do some work yet. I thought to myself why you son of a bitch you, you talk that shit to me
I’ll send her in there. I don’t know whether it’s going to come out the other side or not. Cause I ain’t never
even sat down in the car. So I sent her down in number 1 turn just as hard as I could go and that son of a
bitch stuck like glue. And I went on down and sat her on the pole. Well I win that hundred lap feature and
the next night they had one a Florence and I won it, then we went to Haubstadt, Indiana on a Sunday night
and I win that one. I win three hundred lap features the first weekend I drove that car. Back then made like
$9600. That was a hell of a lot of money for me back then. Then the next week I won Princeton, Indiana in
it. I won the Southern 100 at Portsmouth in that car too. I can’t remember what year but me and Pat Patrick
had one hell of a race, it was a day time race. But I beat him. It was dustier than hell. It had to be 1976 or
1977. You just hardly didn’t lose in that car. If it would be nowdays I probably would have made fifty or
sixty thousand that weekend. It was a hell of a lot of money for the day though, but money never did
amount to shit to me. I loved it, but I would run just as hard if I was running for nothing. Wouldn’t make no
difference to me, money didn’t have anything to do with racing. When you raced you raced to win. Of
course now we had to win to eat you understand. Because we were trying to do it full time and by God you
had to get in there and get it. If you were faster than a guy then you just beat him. We raced a little bit
different then they do now. They kinda got a love style now going on. Back then if they were in your way
you booted them in the ass when you caught them and went on. I don’t mean wrecking anybody, you didn’t
have to wreck anybody you just let him know that you were faster then him. And if he got stubborn with
you, why then you turned another page (laugh). You was there to win. Just like them guys put a good car
under you, they never told you how to drive. You knew how you suppose to drive. They never told you, you
got to go out here and win that race. You knew you had to go out there and win that race. It wasn’t no, I’m
going to tell you how to do this and that. That wasn’t the way it was, but you make sure you come back with
a win or nobody was happy. Back in those days there wasn’t any such thing as a bad handling race car, if
you didn’t win then you wasn’t brave enough. It wasn’t like it is now. Well, my tire gave up, I had the wrong
tire on and some of that bullshit. If you didn’t win you wasn’t brave enough to be driving their cars and if
you didn’t win pretty soon somebody else would be driving it. That’s the way it worked (laugh). But talking
about Logan and Charlie Grider, you know how they was, hell they looked like they come out of a band box
when they come to the track. But them son of a bitches wound up in a motorcycle gang. The scroungiest son
of a bitches you ever seen in your life. You would never believe it. Hell they wouldn’t say shit if you stepped
in it. I know when I was driving for them everybody says how you drive for them son of a bitches, they
won't even talk to you. I said I don’t want the mother fuckers talking to me, I do the talking. I said all they
need to do is fix that goddamn race car where we win. They don’t have to talk to me I don’t need them
talking to me. But that son of a bitch(#59) was tough now. I went down there to Haubstadt, Indiana. They
was running a hundred lap feature, it paid two or three thousand. Paying a hell of a lot of money. And that
goddamn Tom Helfrich’s Dad owned that track, well he had won 13 straight features down there. We went
out there in the heat race and I was on the outside and we ran every lap of that heat race, you had to make
the show through the heats just like today. Well every time I come to the flag I had him about a foot and I
thought well you son of a bitch you either wreck me or I’m gonna beat you. And I sat there every lap and I
beat him in the heat. Well that put me on the pole of the feature. And they (Helfrich) went to work, they
started changing shocks and springs, you know how they do. They just field striped that car. We never
touch ours, just filled it up with fuel and got ready to go. And hell in the feature I run plum off and left him.
He kept getting worse instead of better. But the only thing I done there at his home track was I unnerved
him. Everybody cheered for me and booed him because he was winning so much. It didn’t have anything to
do with they were in love with me, but they just didn’t like that son of a bitch. And I had just beat him on
Friday night in a hundred lapper at Clay City (KY) by about a car length and I’m sure he wasn’t feeling to
good anyway at his home track. But we pulled in there and beat him in the heat and he just went all to
pieces. He got to working on it then he got real easy then you know.
JT: The Duncan car was probably the first car I ever saw with Aluminum wheels on it.
Billy T: I think we were the first car to have aluminum wheels in this part of the country. They bolted
together in the center. Well they really weren’t aluminum, they were magnesium. Hell yeah they was high
dollar son of a bitches at that time. I’ll tell you what they were really made for was drag racing. We tried a
set of them and they didn’t break, so we run the shit out of them. They was as light as a feather.
JT: Didn’t you also drive the Duncan Camaro? Was that chassis really made out of aluminum?
Billy T: No David Speers drove it after I quit driving for them. And it did have an aluminum chassis under
it. They was building that when I was driving for them. But I never did get to drive it. And I don’t know the
car never did show much but racing changed a lot right there in that time. That was when the small block
kicked the big block out you know.
JT: Can you tell me about driving for Morgan Chandler and did you drive the Camaro more than the
Chevelle that Floyd won 42 features?
Billy T: Well you know I won a lot of races when I run for Morgan. I think he’s one of the sharpest that
there was around. When it come to racing he was pretty damn sharp. You know he won a hell of a lot of
races not to be a millionaire. He done it by hard work and just like all the rest of us you know. We worked
at racing and he was one of the best that I drove for. We hell you know how his cars run. They ran good and
he put a lot of time into it. That was one thing that I didn’t think guys like him got what was coming to them.
Just like when you would win a track championship, they would get you up there and say look who you are.
In them days they rarely mentioned the car owners. That’s changed a little bit now, but back in them days
they didn’t get much recognition and it ain’t right. But you know a lot of people don’t know what makes
racing go around. It takes the whole deal. If somebody beats your ass you got to lay there in that garage
and everybody’s got to work together until the sun comes up the next morning. But if a guy beats you,
anybody that wins has a tendency to slack off a little I don’t care who you are. When you win 2 or 3 you
have a tendency to let that wheel slow down and if a guy will lay there in that garage and watch the sun
come up working a week or two. He’ll roll right on by you and then once he goes by you he’s hard to bring
back the other way. Racing is momentum. But when Morgan won his races he had a good crew too. That’s
what it takes, it takes everybody you know. I hate to leave anybody out, but I can’t think of the people that
help me win races as much as I did. I mean I had guys that would lay in that garage and work. My brothers
and all them helped me win them races I didn’t just win them on my own. But a lot of people don’t know
about that. They think you know look there, there goes a guy that’s really doing a job. He probably is doing
his job, but other people are doing a job to keep him there too you know. And that was one thing Morgan
Chandler was good at making a car stay together. And the reason why that was, any night of the week you
look in that garage and he was in there. I mean he lived, eat, and breathed it just like the rest of us. But you
know, like Morgan he built his own motors and everything. He did it all he was pretty damn tough and as
good a guy as you ever raced for you know. But you know Duncan Machinery they was a hell of a gang,
and Jim Cook in Newtown was a hell of a guy. I loved to drive for Jim Cook cause he could not stand to
lose. When Jim lost there was two big streaks of fire that come right out his eyes. I don’t care if you lost a
heat race and I loved to drive for a guy like that. But yeah I drove the Camaro more, but I won some races
in that Chevelle. We won in it (Chevelle) one night out at Northern and Bill Sallee. Well Morgan built that
new Camaro and he didn’t really care about selling the Chevelle, but Sallee want to buy this car. So
Morgan said yeah I’ll sell it to you. Now I never heard about no money deal, I don’t know how much he got
out of it. We was working on the other one (Camaro) and we just unloaded it there by the garage and he
said I’d like to buy it and he bought the son of a bitch. So he came out there the next week and I was
driving the Camaro. But you know he just wasn’t up to driving that car. He got it in the fence in the heat
race and scratched it up, bent a tie rod and this that and the other. So we was out there (Morgan’s Barn)
after the races we was working on the car to go somewhere the next day and he (Sallee) come out there and
said Morgan would you like to buy that car back? He (Morgan) said no I really don’t want it but I’ll buy it
back off you but I ain’t going to give you what you give for it. So they went outside and they made a deal
and Morgan bought it back and it sat over there for 2 or 3 weeks. Well we kinda got bumped up a little bit
and we was going to Morehead, KY they was running a hundred lap feature there at Blue Stone Speedway.
Morgan said let’s get that old car in here and fix what he’s tore up on it. We put a ball joint, tie rod, and this
that and the other. Straightened it up and went to Morehead and won that son of a bitch going away. Of
course competition wasn’t as tough down there as it was up in here where we was running. So as soon as the
race is over we was out in the middle of the race track there taking pictures. He (Sallee) come out there
and said I want to buy that car. (laughs) Morgan said you what? He said I want to buy that car but I want to
take it with me right now. I guess he thought we done something to it when he bought it the first time. So
Morgan sold it to him again. (laughs) I don’t know how much he made on that damn car. (laughs)
JT: Did he ever win with it?
Billy T: Nah he couldn’t win nothing with it. He just wasn’t up on his game. He had a good race car. When
you get everything just right you still got to drive the hell out of them things if your going to win. And
everybody’s style ain’t the same. Well you know what? I could set a car for myself and make it work. But
you got to set a car, if a guy drives hard into that turn you got to have that car stubborn turning that corner.
It’s what Larry Moore always called driving around a shove. When you can drive around that shove your
fast. But you really got to drive that son of a bitch in there to drive a stubborn car you know. Well you put
somebody in there that don’t drive it in there and he’s got a terrible push. And then when you loosen the car
up to where he can get it down in the turn he can’t get off the other side. So it’s like you know like Dale
Atwood had that sportsman down there running my track back then (Lake Cumberland). He won like 20
straight weeks down there and this guy come down there to buy that car and Dale let him drive it in the heat
race. And hell he couldn’t drive it that son of a bitch shoved to the fence and he come back in and said I
wouldn’t have that son of a bitch if you give it to me. I told Dale you going to have to quit letting them guys
drive it if you want to sell it because you driving that car. I said your driving that son of a bitch in there till
it’s got to slide and these other guys ain’t going to do that. You ain’t going to be able to run the same setup
on that car for them guys. If you set a car up stubborn you better have a race car driver in it. That’s why me
and your Dad worked so good together cause he would drive that son of a bitch in there you know. I told
him when he got in the car exactly how he had to drive it and he went out there and drove it exactly that
way and he won. You had to drive that son of a bitch in there cause it didn’t want you babying it going into
the turn. I said drive that son of a bitch down in there. I said if anything gets in your way don’t be afraid to
wreck it a little bit. (laughs) And he liked that too. (laughs) He had the fire flying out of it.
JT: Do you ever recall having bad words with Vern?
Billy T: No shit no I never had no problem with Vern. You know there’s a whole lot of guys I never had no
problem with. That’s just like Ralph Latham. I raced with Ralph Latham clear up until he quit and I never
had a word with Ralph Latham. He would race with you and he would out run your ass but he wouldn’t
cheap shot you and he wouldn’t run over top of you unless it was an accident. But them cheap shot artist is
the son of a bitches I never could understand. I didn’t have no use for that shit. If a guys racing with me I
don’t care if he tears both sides out of me. But whenever he starts pulling that cheap shit on me I don’t put
up with no bullshit on a race track. I might give him a mark or two and then I put his ass in orbit. That’s the
way you have to do them. You can’t have everybody against you racing, but you also gotta have respect or
you can’t win anything. When you go down in that corner and they are waiting on you to shut off. You got to
make them believe that you ain’t going to. It might cost you a wreck or two, but they know who will shut off
and who won’t. Hell you know that, you know how that works. You know who you can take down in there
and who you can’t. (laughs) Take the wrong guy down in there and you got a hell of a wreck coming.
(laughs) But other guys will give for you. But the cheap shot artist are the ones that I don’t like. And I ain’t
calling no names but I raced with a bunch of them. But I know them today. They would love to wreck you if
they could make you think it was an accident. But they didn’t want you against them. I never did give a shit
about no of them when it come right down to it. I’d tell them aye you see that back bumper on that son of a
bitch? You tear that clean off but remember don’t fuck with somebody that can catch you. Because when
you do your ass is going to be in trouble. You know that’s the way you had to play the game.
JT: Speaking of Jim Cook before, one of our Hall of Fans members Bill Bennett. You remember Bill?
Billy T: Yeah Bill worked on the car and done all the towing.
JT: Bill told me to ask you about the time you all got kicked out of the Playboy Club in Cincinnati.
Billy T: (laughs) I better not talk about that (laughs). We wasn’t in there very long (laughs) But you know
ol’ Bill Bennett’s a good man. You know we won a lot of races there at Springfield, Ohio there on a big
track. We would run up there on a Sunday night and we beat the ass off of them up there. It was like a 7/16
of a mile dirt, it was a big track.
JT: Speaking of big tracks. What was it like running at Kentucky International Raceway?
Billy T: Oh I loved it. I won the last race they run there. Hundred lap feature. I won it in John Tobin’s Hemi
#8. It was a big race track about the same size as Springfield, Ohio. But it was more of a solid dirt than
Springfield. Springfield had a lot of loose dirt on it. It was a horse track converted into a car track, well they
both was but KIR was a better surface I really liked it. It was flat and you had to run right on the hub.
JT: It looks like from the pictures on the site they had a row of light poles down the backchute that makes
it hard to see from the grandstands.
Billy T: Well now I’m going to tell you. You run that track and you was flying on that track and it had a
wood inner guardrail and damn you had to take your eyes off of it. Damn it would make you dizzy you know,
you get to going by them and it was like a flutter. You had to kind of break yourself from looking at it, but
you wanted to keep your left front wheel setting as close to it as you could.
JT: I heard of guys going through that barn off turn 4.
Billy T: That was my brother Henry (Hank). He run clean through it. (laughs) He had lumber sticking in
that car it’s a wonder it never killed him. I’ll tell you what he did, he came down that back stretch. He was
driving a 1969 Ford Torino and he blew an engine. Something flew out of the engine and went over and cut
the brake line going into the turn. He went right on off the end and across that, they had a track around the
outside where they brought the horses on. He went through the fence across that track and on through
another fence and on through that barn. It was an orange #44. One night out there at Northern it was Hank’
s first year and he was running good. He hadn’t won a feature yet but he won some heat races and he was
running pretty good. We was running a hundred lap feature and I told him before we went out there. I said
now we can win. I was driving for George Conner and I said I’m going to win this son of a bitch but just get
on me. Where ever I go you go. Well he did that. We run 60 or 70 laps first and second. And damn I got to
loafing you know what I mean. When a race gets easy you take your eye off of it. I got that son of a bitch
up in the fence. Well it clipped the guardrail and went up on it. There wasn’t no sense to do it, it was just a
dumbass mistake and I was turning over in the race track and the ground was coming up. In fact it come up
until I could lay my hand on the track and all of a sudden somebody hit me and straighten me back up on
my wheels and I went on and won the race. It tore him all to pieces. (laughs) he give me hell after the race,
he said, ‘Yeah I’ll follow you again.’ (laughs) He hit me so hard he put me back on my wheels. But it
shocked me when I got hit that hard it set me clean back up on my wheels. I was gone, I was going over.
But he run real good out there.
JT: What’s your favorite era?
Billy T: Anytime from 1967 until I got hurt in 1984. It didn’t make any difference to me. I never felt any
better or any worse until I got hurt. You put a race car on just like a shoe and you went out there and done
what it wanted you to do and you come out of there with a win most of the time. Sometimes you didn’t
sometimes you got your ass beat, But not to often.
JT: Can you tell me about when you got hurt at Whitewater Valley Speedway (Union Co)?
Billy T: You know it’s a funny thing the way that worked. I remember I never did get knocked unconscious
and I don’t see how I didn’t, but I didn’t. I was up to 2nd and I was on the outside of a car leading it. Then
all of a sudden I got hit and a rock went through my helmet. It went into the corner of my left eye and
flipped my eyeball out. It never did knock me out, but it thundered pretty good. I got the car stopped but I
couldn’t see cause it blinded me in both eyes. I got out of the car and sit down there beside the car. Not
sure if I was in the middle of the race track, I really don’t know . That little girl that use to take pictures up
there, her Daddy took pictures and died of a heart attack you know who I’m talking about?
JT: Stan Jefferies, I think her name was Julie?
Billy T: Yeah Stan Jefferies, I can remember her coming out there sitting beside me and talking to me.
Before they loaded me in the box you know. They took me down to that hospital there in Indiana and they
said ah shit, we can’t do nothing with this. So they sent me to Cincinnati and from there they transferred me
to Booth Hospital over there by the race track, by the horse track there in Latonia. And they operated on
me the next day and put my eye back in there. What it done was it punctured it and they sowed it back up.
That old man Pylight from Covington is the one that did it. I can’t see anything out of it, but it filled itself
back up. But I had a double vision and I went to Baltimore, Maryland and there’s a guy up there by the
name of Ron Michaels and he operated on me. It was watering awful bad and took a laser and worked on it
some. He got it straightened up where I can operate, but I can’t see anything out of it. I waited about a year
and I went down to Richmond and tried to drive and I won the race, but I couldn’t judge where I was at.
Couldn’t see good enough, kinda saw double all the time. Everything seemed level. I can see a hell of a lot
better now then I could then. It took four or five years to get use to that eye site being gone. That’s what
got me put out of commission. That’s about the time I got you Dad to drive. I really wasn’t able to be
fooling around with the race car at that time, But we went up there and got them anyway. You know I wish
though, I sold that car that winter. I just wished I would have been in good enough shape then to let him
drove that car a year. We would have won some damn races. But I wasn’t in good enough shape to keep it
together, couldn’t see good enough to even keep the car up. You cover an eye up and go for a day and see
what it does to you.
Billy T: I had the damndest thing happen to me at Whitewater. I was driving Lloyd Ruth’s #29. They run a
damn Pepsi race up there in 1976. The reason I remember it was 1976 is because it was 76 laps. It was a
good paying race, It paid I don’t know $1500 - $2000 and them son of a bitches started 38 race cars on that
little race track. But shit, I started outside front row and lapped three cars going down the back straightway
on the first lap. Well you know you ain’t going to have no fenders left when it’s over. Old Johnny “Ringo”
was with me that night. Well we won it of course we beat, bang, and crashed. Hell I don’t know who I hit and
who I didn’t you know it was a rough ass race. Well I pulled up there to get my picture took and I very
seldom ever pulled my helmet off until I got out of the car to make sure everything was looking pretty good.
But that night the last eight or ten laps it was dropping oil pressure in the corners and I knew it was low on
oil, so I wanted to tell Tommy, Lloyd Ruth’s son in law. I was wanting to tell him to put oil in it before he
took it to load it on the trailer, because I was afraid it would burn the bearings out of it. Well I took my
helmet off and I got out of that car, of course they gave me the trophy and everything. Took pictures and all
that shit and here some son of a bitch walked down out of the grandstands and hit me in the top of the head
with a rock. I’m telling you it was just like, you know it didn’t really hurt me, but it sounded like fucking
lightning struck a pole beside of me you know. And I looked up and my damn head was in the ground and I
was on my knees. Then I started coming back around and I thought goddamn this son of a bitch has hit me
and he’s liable to do it again you know. And I just swung hard as I could straight up off the ground and hit
that son of a bitch in the jaw by luck cause I didn’t see him. I knocked his ass about 15’ back through that
crowd. But Johnny “Ringo” grabbed a holt of me and here this son of a bitch opens a knife on me (laughs).
I’m kicking the shit out of him. You know I could see the knife but “Ringo” didn’t. He didn’t know what in
the hell was going on. He had a holt of me and thought I was fighting somebody that owned the track. And
he had me around the goddamn waist. I kept kicking and kicking and kicking and then the guy ran through
the crowd and got gone. And I never did know who he was, he come out of the damn grandstands (laughs)
but he hit me right in top of the head. I had to laugh about it though it split my goddamn head wide open.
Pretty good size rock too, he had it in his hand, he never did turn loose of it. Kapow, man I mean he
knocked the shit right out of me (laughs). But it never knocked me out, but he sure had my ass. When I
kinda come to myself my head was in the ground and I thought what in the hell am I doing down here
(laughs) But I hit him and when he had the knife I just kept kicking at his face and he turned around and
run because as soon as they figured out what was going on they was going to kill that bastard. Ah shit you
know how racing is (laughs).
JT: Did you have a favorite race track?
Billy T: To tell you the truth, I always liked Florence and Eldora about as good as any two racetracks I
run. I’ve run into some awful good tracks down South you know. Waycross Georgia and down in there.
There’s some damn good racetracks down in there. But Florence you know, I run there all my life and I
knew every bump and crook and everything in it. I like to think of it as more of an obstacle course more
than a racetrack. You know, you had your do’s and don’ts on it. You didn’t mess around much on the front
straightaway and did all your passing on the back straight away and this that and the other.
JT: Did you find your setups at Florence worked well at Eldora?
Billy T: Well, I tell you what there ain’t a whole lot of difference in it. Eldora’s got more bank to it. Now
here’s what I always did when I went to Eldora. And you might as well do it, cause you got to do it. When
you pull into any racetrack you been running good and winning at. Double the stagger. If you run 3”at
Florence, run 5-6 at Eldora to qualify. And they all say oh man, goddamn that cars going to be so loose, but
you got to run a loose car up there to qualify. But now you got to get that back out of there before time to
run a 20 lap heat race. The first thing a guy says is I can’t run no stagger like that. But I’m going to tell you
if you’re a race car driver you know you got the stagger in there, so what you do is take it outside and drive
it in that turn and steer a little bit to the right like your going to drive it out of that racetrack. Because when
you back off the accelerator that son of a bitch is going to fold up like a dove. And when that son of a bitch
folds its wings up you better be ready to get back after it because you got that stagger up underneath of
you. But you put out against that fence and take her around the outside and drop it down across that bottom
and back up into the middle and you’ll come out of there with something. When I sat on the pole up there in
Gullett’s car I had 11” of stagger in the car. I run 51/2” in the heat and I started the race with 3” and I lead
the first 38 laps and it looked like I was going to win it and cracked a head on it. I never cracked an
aluminum head in my life, but I cracked that one. The heat gauge started creeping over and I’m sitting
there watching it go. Had a brand new Gaerte motor in it and hell I didn’t want to blow it up and I just pulled
in the pits it wasn’t steaming or anything and shit them guys about beat me in the head with a club. What
the hell are you doing in here. I said, ‘this son of a bitch is blowing up’. They said ah shit there ain’t nothing
wrong with it something is wrong with that heat gauge. I said yeah your ass too. We took home and tore it
down and had a cracked head on it, right across the exhaust valve seat. But I led the first 38 and Rodney
Combs was running second and that car was so good. Rodney would kind of move up where I couldn’t see
him over my left shoulder. I kept him where he was coming in 3 and I was going off 4. But he would kinda
pull up a little bit and get out of site and I could put him right back in the picture. So I had some reserve left
there. I believe I would have won that race easier than any race I ever won in my life, but I didn’t finish.
But I never drove a car that felt any better. When I pulled off every tire was wore the same. It was just a
perfect race car, you know every once in a while you get one of them. Part of it’s working like hell and part
of it’s luck.
JT: That Gullett car was a fast car.
Billy T: It was a good car, yeah it was. Yeah I won that race down there in Waco, Georgia with it. Then I
come up there to the World 100 and damn near won it and I would have won if it would have finished that
year. Then I went to St. Clairsville and I led that race up there 40 different times in a hundred lap feature.
The damn distributor, the cam got to walking in it and it wore that bronze gear off the distributor. And it got
so goddamn sorry, but when I would get to the corner I would pass Jim Dunn. Jim was leading and I would
pass him in the corner and he would pass me back down the straightaway. We done that 40 times and I
wore him out. When he got out of the car he wasn’t 10 feet tall. I mean he just humped over. He said shit
fire I’ve never been so tired in my life. But I’ll be damned if Tye Long didn’t come up and beat us both at
the end. But my car got sorry and I wore his ass out physically until he couldn’t drive and got us both beat.
But that was a good race car and Glen was a good guy. He would put the money out and take you racing.
Billy T: But you know Eldora is one of the few racetracks that you step on the throttle to get out of trouble.
If you see your going to hit the fence you can just climb in it and it will pull itself away from there. It’s just
one of the few race tracks, but there are a few of them. Your always driving to get out of trouble and you
better make sure your doing the right thing when you do that (laughs). But it will, you can get like your oh
god I’m going to hit that fence and just drive and it will come away from it. That and a slight heart attack
will bring you away from that fence (Laughs). But you know when you go up there to run the World 100 you
got to drive it in there. It ain’t no well it might stay. It don’t make no difference whether it does or not you
got to take that son of a bitch in there, then your just one of the boys. It don’t make you superior. Hell you
got to be a qualifier to run that place. When you pull in the gate your going to be there for 2 days, but you
got 5 minutes to get right. You go out to hot lap your lucky to get 2 laps without somebody fucking up, soon
as they fuck up their going to run your session off and get another one. Then there you are well no what the
hell do I do you know. So you have to kind of learn it over the years and remember what you done and write
down what you done. Then you can go back the next year and get better, then go back the next year and do
even better, then you go back the next year and it pours down rain and it fucks you all up again (laughs).
But one thing about the World 100, you’ll not be embarrassed by yourself. (laughs) Boy up there you got to
be lucky on that draw. You don’t want to be first, but you don’t want to be out of the first 20. You know
before that moisture leaves that racetrack. Well you know I never did run a night World 100 up there. I run
all my races in the daytime up there. I mean that son of a bitch would dry out now it would get tricky in a
hurry. It would get tricky right in the heat race, you know it would just swap like another race track. But
you know the year before they called that the World 100 I win that and it was the Ohio State Championship.
It paid $3000 and Earl throwed me a box full of $5 bills. I never seen so many goddamn $5 bills in all my
life. He told me next year I’m going to pay $4000, I’m going up a thousand every year. That’s when he
renamed it the World 100.
JT: Yeah Earl told me the year that you won it. He said what he did was that he decided already that he was
going to have the World 100 that paid $4000 and went up a thousand every year. But he said he didn’t know
if he was going to have it for Sprints or Late Models. He said he ran a big show for each of them and the
class the drew the most got the World 100. And the day you won decided it.
Billy T: That’s exactly right. The day I won it Bob Senneker run second. You know Bob run blacktop all his
life but he was a good dirt racer. He was a bearcat on that blacktop but he was a pretty damn good dirt
driver too. But that was a funny thing that day. I come in four on the white flag. I come in there and the
throttle stuck wide open. Well I was driving pretty wide open anyway. But the throttle stuck and it worshed
up into the fence and I hit that fence a ton on the white flag. Coming out the last corner, but I just stayed
after it and it went on and finished. But the damn breather, a rock got between the breather and the gas
pedal on the last lap and nailed that son of a bitch down there and it stayed down there. But up there then if
you had less than five laps to go and a yellow come out they added five laps to it. That’s the way they ran
Eldora then. Well hell I had three yellow flags. So we actually run 115 laps.
JT: Speaking of Eldora. Do you think a guy could build a 541 cubic inch torque monster and put it on them?
Seems like since you don’t run a lot of rear percentage there the weight wouldn’t hurt you?
Billy T: I wonder about that you know, of course nobody trys it. But I wonder about that because now that
they got these small blocks so big. I wonder if a man couldn’t make one of them go. At Eldora your mostly
gas pedal its about one, it and Knoxville, Tennessee is the only two tracks that I remember ever driving to
where you push down on the accelerator to get out of trouble. The more trouble you get in the harder you
drive to get out of it. Them two tracks are that way. If you see your going up against the fence. If you drive
over your head you might get out of it without hitting the fence. But if you let off the accelerator your going
to hit it for sure. If you lift your foot your gone. So if you get it wormy or in trouble or get hooked in the
quarter panel you just drive your way out of it. And if you don’t get out of it you have one hell of a wreck.
But most of the time you can drive your way out the other side.
JT: It seems like more of a torque track instead of horsepower.
Billy T: That’s what it is. It’s ah how would you say it?
JT: Momentum is what I say.
Billy T: Momentum is right. That’s what it is, it’s a momentum racetrack and so is Knoxville, Tennessee
except Knoxville, Tennessee is a whole lot smaller. Knoxville, Tennessee you feel like you’re a bumblebee
in a corked jar. In fact you’ll damn near get dizzy down there driving.
JT: You certainly always ran a headrest at Knoxville didn’t you?
Billy T: Yeah and then I always wore that thing that hooked to the side of the helmet and went underneath
your arm. And just anything you could get, I have tied my head to the roll bar down there. It will wear you
JT: Did you ever run right rear weight at Eldora?
Billy T: Never did. I always ran left rear weight but I ran a stiff spring on the right side. I stiffened the right
side for Eldora on both right corners. It’s according to how, you know everybody don’t drive the same. But
I stiffed the right rear and the right front because you was driving so hard into that turn up there that it’s
going to flatten whatever spring you put on it anyway. And they say guys are running 400 lbs right front
springs up there now and I just don’t understand that shit. I know that on a real short track they rare up and
pitch everything over on the right rear and I can see it. Because right in the center of the corner their going
to bite because you got everything rolled over on the right rear. But on a like you say a momentum race
track like that I just don’t believe in that shit myself. I want to run with 4 feet on the ground. (laughs) You
know the more you watch these cars, they’ll turn one good lap and two bad ones but you can’t win if your
feet ain’t on the ground.
Billy T: Hey what do you think about Tony Stewart and them guys and that track?
JT: I think it’s horseshit. I think Tony Stewart and Kenny Schrader are nothing more than pawns.
Billy T: Just like I told Dan the other day. He said well you know at least they got money. I said yeah but
let me tell you something Dan. I said you remember when you was up there with me and we were laying up
there sleeping under them trucks freezing to death? I said remember hearing that old grader run at 2 and 3
o’clock in the morning? Remember that old guy sitting up there on that grader? If you think them fucking
slicks are going to get out there and do that, shit no they ain’t going to take care of that racetrack like Earl
Baltes did. You know he worked and they ain’t gonna do that. I told Wanda they are going to pave it. My
opinion is they will pave it within 5 years.
JT: If they do it’s my opinion they will have a riot on their hands. They’ll burn that place to the ground.
Billy T: They liable to (laughs).
JT: You know I can’t help but think of you talking about Eldora in the day time. And I hear people all the
time talk about how the race tracks have been run on so much they are always black now. I remember
these tracks always being black. Which did you prefer?
Billy T: Well it’s easier on everything when it’s black and slick. It’s easier on the engine, it’s easier on
everything. I like the black slick race track because for one thing it’s easier on equipment. Number 2 it
takes a race car driver to win on a black slick race track. On a tacky rough dirt track anybody can win.
That’s my opinion of it. Because if you think I’m wrong you go to a Saturday night race and let it rain 2 or 3
days that week and you look out there in the trophy dash and there will be 4 strangers in it. Then next
Saturday night when they clean the race track up you couldn’t find them guys with a search warrant. But
you have to have a smooth foot on a black slick race track. Got to have that velvet foot man. Old Floyd use
to reach down and rub his knee and say it’s all right there. (laughs) But I’m telling you all the race tracks
were just as black and slick then. You take Eldora in the day time, I mean that son of a bitch was a chap. It
was a mean dude now. But any day time race back then. You take the first 10 laps it would be so dusty and
finally you would blow that dust away.
JT: Did you have any tracks you didn’t like?
Billy T: I have had trouble with tracks a winning on, but I always went back till I did win. I’ll tell you a track
I never did like, but I finally went back and won on it was Lawrenceburg Speedway. A lot of people love it,
but I never did. There’s always somebody grinding on you. You couldn’t hardly race without somebody
running into you, that’s what I didn’t like. And if you try to pass him above you, he’ll knock you over the
edge. Not that he’s going to destroy you or anything, but your out of the damn race you know what I mean.
And we used to run a track down in Princeton, Indiana. I never cared much for that damn track. But I finally
did win on it. I always set my mind to it if a track give me trouble, I’d go back until I win. I hated to leave a
race track that whopped my ass, and most generally every track that I ever run in my life I won a feature
on sometime or another. And I used to go down to, what the hells the name of that son of a bitch? Down in
Indiana where Gene Petro was from?
JT: Columbus, Indiana
Billy T: Columbus, a fairground track. Gene was just pure hell on that racetrack. And Gene would beat
your goddamn ass. He would take a piece of shit and beat you down there. Of course he was born and
raised there you know. But me and Chandler kept going back and I finally got him. We was done there 8-10
times before I got him. Man that son of a bitch flew down there. Gene always drove them Fords there. Boy
he was tough.
JT: Tell me about driving Bobby Paul’s pipline #P1.
Billy T: Well it was pretty good. It was a Howe car running in a Rayburn day. See the bad thing with that
car. Now I won some races in it, but it was a little bit heavy. Because back then nobody weighed cars and C.
J. got to trimming and trimming and a trimming, he got so goddamn light. And Howe wouldn’t do it cause he
was afraid he was going to kill somebody. And the car was a little bit heavy in it’s day and time, but I won a
lot of races in it
JT: What was it like driving for Earl Roger’s in the Rueben Brothers Auto Parts #22?
Billy T: Man they was a fit. You know them guys. They was crazy son of a bitches.
JT: I loved them every one. I thought they were a lot of fun.
Billy T: Their good boys, but man I’m telling you their crazy. That goddamn Earl, course he drank a whole
lot then. He would wake up and say who in the fuck won? (laughs) Maybe we did (laughs). They good boys
though Denny Harris and all them boys. But goddamn they was cat’s asses now. But people nowdays, I don’
t know maybe it’s to much of a business I don’t know. We raced for the money, we had to have the money,
but we raced to win. You take these races right now there’s a lot of pussy footing around out there. I see a
guy follow a guy and follow a guy. I watch a son of a bitch down there at Volusia county one night. That son
of a bitch had the winning car and he followed a guy all the way through that race. I would have had to try
him somewhere if I would have gotten again the fence or tore it up or whatever. You could just tell if he
would get by this guy he would run off and leave him and he wouldn’t try it. I don’t like that kind of racing.
If he would have been driving for me I would have fired the son of a bitch. I would have fired him before his
feet hit the ground.
JT: What do you see for the future of Dirt Late Model racing?
Billy T: I see some of these circuits biting the dust. That’s what I see. I’m going to tell you why. They are
going to kill the regular show. What happens you take all these goddamn circuits coming around. They say
ok we are going to come in here and sign up and run here tonight. And they put a good bunch of people in
your grandstands and you got a hell of a bunch of cars and you make some money. Then they go right down
here within 50 or 100 miles of you and run against you next week. Then they run about 8 or 9 shows until
they get back to you. There is some race tracks that can keep up no matter what. I believe Florence is one
of them. I believe Richmond is one but there is very few. But a lot of tracks fooling with these circuits they
can’t afford them and then when they leave them they leave them broke. Then you got guys coming into
local tracks. It turns out you going to have to rob Peter to pay Paul. Right now I wouldn't want a race track
because these circuits get to be where they want to tell you what to do. But you know what if I was racing a
top line car at Florence weekly it’s hard to make me believe that they wouldn't have trouble out of my ass
when they come in there. I know that they do now, they come in there and make them look like school boy,
but I don’t understand it. When your running a racetrack and your winning on Saturday night and you got
top line equipment. By God when them son of a bitches come in I would be waiting on them. I guarantee
they would have no sides left on them when they went home. They wouldn't come in there and steal my
race. And I never liked a provisional. It ain’t right. Let me tell you something when you got a guy that drags
his ass out of Arizona and come all the way across that goddamn country and come in there and I ain’t
saying it happened. But him miss a show by one car and you stick 2 or 3 provisional in there and send this
guy back to Arizona, it ain’t right. I don’t believe in them. I think every man ought to have to race to get in
the race. That’s like down there at Lake Cumberland. I was letting the roadhogs qualify. I said let me tell
you son of a bitches something. The best I can remember when I was standing there and that roadhog guy
laid that $20 bill on that piece of wood there, it was the same size as your alls mother fucking $20 bill. I
don’t believe they should be treated any different. You take them guys working on those bombers, they
work just as hard and I’ve seen guys treat them like a goddamn yard dog. It ain’t right.
JT: What do you think of a pill draw with no qualifying?
Billy T: Hate it. Because the cars ain’t graded, When your starting a heat race you don’t know if that guy
can run 150 mph or 25 mph. Even when you start the fastest on the tail the cars are still graded. You got
this guy back here and he’s running with cars closer to his speed. If he’s running the third heat, he’s got a
third heat car. You got a guy running the second heat, he’s got a second heat car. You take a guy running
the fast heat and he’s a monster. What chance has these guys got if you mix a couple monsters back here
with these third heat cars. They might as well go to the house, there ain’t no use even pulling out on the
race track. So, I don’t believe in that shit. You know what, by the time you fuck around and draw and argue
with some son of a bitch for 15 minutes. You can qualify everyone of them goddamn cars. You give them
one lap and say she belongs to you, if you waste it I’m sorry. So I don’t see any point in drawing, but I know
it’s the thing all up in Ohio. It ain’t worth a shit to me. We went up there to Portsmouth last year two or
three times. And Portsmouth for the modifieds is one of the best paying track there is. I mean you get paid
for every damn thing you do, and you get paid more on a regular show than anybody. But they got like 40
modifieds and you go up there and draw. If you draw the ass of one of them heat races. You’ll take up
through there after some son of a bitch sittin up on the pole flying and all of a sudden a guy running about
4th that can’t run 30 mile an hour. You have to wait on him 2 or 3 fucking laps until he wrecks or gets the
hell out of your way. Well that guy on the pole is gone. It ain’t no count.
JT: Did you ever run anywhere that had passing points?
Billy T: No. I don’t know how in the hell you could ever keep track of it. You might know how many cars
you passed but how in the hell you going to know what that other mother fucker has passed. Sounds like a
way for them to fuck somebody to death.
JT: What direction would you like to see the sport head?
Billy T: Well I don’t know. I think and I always thought their running to much fucking engines in these race
cars. They cost to much goddamn money. What in the hell does a man need with a thousand horsepower
engine in a Saturday night race car. I know it’s hard to govener and it’s hard to rule, but all their doing is
making these fucking engine builders rich. That’s where the money is wasted in these fucking race cars.
Everybody can afford a race car, but you can’t afford to keep it up. Fucking motor will tear you up. You
blow 2 or 3 engines and you’ve lost the farm. But let me tell you back when NDRA started running and old
Smalley that run it. He started talking about it, cutting these engines back. Cut the cubic inch back you
know. Well all a sudden here come Malcuit and you had the Malcuit 100. The next week you had the
Prototype 100. Them motor men started throwing money in these races, you didn’t hear no more about the
fucking engine rule no more. That was the end of it. That’s the same way on tires and everything. Those
guys throw money at them guys running the circuits and they can do any fucking thing they want to do. But
you know yourself, there ain’t no way a man ought to have to run a $30,000 fucking engine on a dirt track.
But if you ain’t got one you ain’t even in the game. And I’ll tell you what. I don’t give a damn how hard you
work at it, you can’t put $30,000 in a small block Chevrolet. You know that and I know it. But when your
dealing with them engine builders and you don’t get the good ones you can’t run. So whatever they want to
charge that’s what you gotta do. It’s like Draime, Malcuit, and them are good motors. There ain’t no doubt
about it, there bullet proof, but you can’t put $30,000 in a Chevrolet engine there just ain’t no way. But they
do it everyday. You take Morgan Chandler, he built a 541 cubic inch out of this World and used all
Chevrolet parts. He had a tall block out of a dump truck that was a ¼ inch taller than a regular 427 or 454.
And he used 427 style pistons on 454 rods mix all that stuff up and come up with a 541 c.i. stroker that
would out run the word of God. But Morgan, like I told you, he ain’t no. Well your Dad drove for him, he
knows. He was as good as there was you know. Sometimes like I said, you would say goddamn that don’t
sound right. But if you just bear with it and go on and run the race car most generally it was a plus. Course
he would make mistakes just like everybody else. But goddamn he had tubular A-frames way back when
they never made such a thing and he made them himself. Well now you know you can buy them hanging on
the wall any goddamn place you want any way you want. But back then you made your own stuff, and
people like him is what has made shit like that come alive.
JT: Remember the Howe A-frames where you ran them on the opposite side? Why couldn’t a guy make a
tube frame like them with the ball joint angled back where you could set the engine back a little bit?
Billy T: Well you could, but you know what. I never thought engine set back amounted that much. Now I’m
going to tell you what really amounts is moving your rear end forward. That’s when you really start picking
up percentage. You could move an engine back 3 inches, hell I’ve moved them back 6 inches and could tell
JT: What would be the difference in setting the engine back or moving the rear end forward?
Billy T: Well what it is your front spindles are like. Well say a diving board and your walking out on that
diving board. When you roll that rear end up under that car, your fuel cell and things is like a guy taking
another step out on that diving board. It changes the percentage out of this World. But see here’s the thing,
like on your percentage in a Modified. You have a hell of a time getting the percentage. The engines back
what 20” in it? But you still have a hell of a time getting say 57% rear weight in them son of a bitches. Well
when you get it if you ain’t careful you got your fuel cell back and everything. You got a long back end on it,
now you got a pendulum that’s swinging going into the turn. And you ain’t got no tires to stop it. So what
you got to do, you got to work that car until you get the fuel cell up under it to where you don’t have that
overhang back there and then get your 57%. That’s awful hard to do, but you can do it. You need to sit that,
you got to get that driver back so close that the tread of that left rear wheel rubs the back of his shirt. Then
you got to turn like you said. The Howe A-frames, that car Dan’s got now we use Nova A-frames and chop
the A–frames forward 3 inches which moved the front wheels forward. See and that moved the whole car
back 3”. And we got our percentage. But boy it’s hard to get because you can also damage yourself. You
can get the percentage and it looks good on scales, but you can’t drive the damn thing cause you got 32
gallon of fuel sitting back there and you can’t control it. Well in the first place when you get a square fuel
cell and you put that in there and you getting sitting in the right spot you still got a problem. Because the
car can’t roll out from under the fuel. You know what I’m saying? But if you take a fuel cell and put it in
there long ways and run it. It’s like taking a cigar and spinning it, then taking a cigar and turning it over end
over end like a plane propeller. Well that fuel, what happens if you get that fuel cell in there right that car
will spin on the fuel and leave it sit right where it’s at. But if you put some of those gawky ass fuel cells
these guy got in these cars, it’s got to raise that fuel up on one side and it can’t do it. Now you got a mess
back there. Like I said a cigar is a good example. You turn it sideways and you can’t hardly flip it over, but
you turn it long ways and you can spin it. And that fuel inside that fuel cell will lay right where it’s at and
that car will roll. It’s still got the weight there, but you ain’t got no fucking slopping around bullshit. Flipping
back and forth cutting up you know. But especially them modifieds you got to get that fuel cell forward in
them son of a bitches, you just can’t leave them hang back there and get the percentage. Then like you
take a Late Model. You put the engine down in a late model and drop the center of gravity, but in a damn
modified you want to raise that engine up 6”-9” where that chassis will roll. You have to have everything in
a modified roll over on the right rear tire cause you ain’t got no fucking tires. It’s just everything on a mod,
the way you think it should be is just about the opposite. It’s the damndest thing. They are a monster, they
are a son of a bitchin race car to handle boy. Hardest mother fucker I ever had to fool with in my life.
Cause the first thing they turn them loose with motors, everybody’s got a good engine but you ain’t got no
tires. Running them fucking bicycle tires.
JT: Did you ever camber your rear end?
Billy T: Yeah I did, I run a cambered rear end. But I’m going to tell you what I done and I didn’t find it out
until years later. I cambered it the wrong way. See what I done I run camber in my right rear just like I was
running in the right front and it’s wrong. You got to go backwards. See here’s what happens, you stop and
think about this now and you’ll see. Ok, when your running camber in your rear end you want to turn the
wheel out at the top a little bit. Because you got to figure your at least 12 degree bank and your running
stagger in your tire. Now when you camber it the other way you sit that tire right on the racetrack. But I
was doing it backwards and never thought of it being the other way. But where I found out I was doing it
backwards later on was on an asphalt car. That’s the way they camber them and they was doing it in
Winston Cup. They was cambering them until they outlawed it. But now it is hard on stuff. But you have to
go the opposite way then you do the front end. And for reason why it is, the stagger that your running in the
rear end and the banking of the racetrack. See if you camber it like I did and then run stagger your picking
the outside of your tire up off the ground and your running on the inside off the tire. So if you camber it the
other way about 1 to ½ degrees now you got the tire sitting on the bank with your stagger. That camber will
work right today, but I had it the wrong way.
JT: Did you ever run a ratchet rearend?
Billy T: Yeah. I run ratchets, I run a true track, I’ve run everything.
JT: What did you like the best?
Billy T: I like a spool for dirt. I’ll tell you what. Every one of them son of a bitches. I never seen one that
wouldn’t kick out on you every once in a while on dirt. Those true tracks they got a spring in each side of
them and them springs will get a little loose and they’ll put you through the wall because they’ll kick out.
Especially if the track gets a little rough. They’ll kick out and the won’t kick back in until you let clean off
the gas, then they kick back in. But on blacktop there ain’t nothing like them, but on dirt it’s just to rough
to me. Of course they might be people and they might be making something today better and they might be
running them. I don’t know, but I never run any good unless I had a spool in my car. I liked to run a spool
and run stagger and screw the car around the racetrack. A lot of them run outside weight, a lot run right
rear weight, I always run left rear weight. It always felt better to me. But I do know it will work either way.
Because one time down there at Campbellsville (KY) me and Charlie Swartz was down there parked side by
side. Charlie was running a ton of outside weight and I was running a ton of inside weight. It was a daytime
racetrack black, slick son of a bitch you ever seen. And we both run about the same speed all day. So I
know it will work either way. But you don’t want to get caught in the middle (laughs) you don’t want to get
caught with that wobble. But you know if you get a car loose and you keep pulling the chassis to it. Leave
your stagger in there and pull your chassis to it. But a lot of times a car will get wild and they’ll start jerking
the stagger out of it for the feature. Well the car does feel better you know, cause it’s feeling safer. But the
son of a bitch ain’t fast. It might be fast but it ain’t super fast. If your going to run 4 or 5 inches of stagger,
if that’s what you think it’s going to take to get around that corner then you got to work the chassis into
that to where you can run that much stagger. You can do it but sometimes it takes some work.
JT: Did you ever run reverse stagger?
Billy T: Yeah I have (laughs) I did when I run for Morgan Chandler. We run some reverse stagger and the
reason why we did it. We wanted to see how far we could go to get a shove in that car. We run 2 and 3
inches of reverse stagger and I could drive around it. It was that car you know it was that good. Might of
done that in another car and it would have pushed right through the fence. Just like I had that Jig-a-Low car
that Charlie Hughes won the World 100 in. Ron Schwietzer went down and bought it off of Jerry Inmon.
Jerry Inmon had it after Charlie Hughes drove it. But that car there was a car that kinda sat out by itself.
All you had to do to that car ever was soften or stiffen the left front spring. I mean if you wanted to turn the
car quicker you softened the left front spring. If you wanted it to be a little bit stubborn and shove it’s way
around the corner you stiffened the spring. That’s all you had to do to that car. I tried it on other race cars
since then, don’t work. But it did on that one. Don’t ask me why but it did. And I had it figured out. If I went
to a track say Whitewater or someplace you wanted to turn the corner, just soften the left front till it flops.
If you was on a half mile and you wanted it to make the circle for you, you just stiffened the left front spring
and she would go right on. Of course we wasn’t dealing with shocks in them days. Shocks is racing now. But
you know what? We was all dumb asses because the drag strip boys had them shocks right then. They was
fooling with that rebound you know. Hard down and soft up, soft up and hard down. The drag strip was
working on that then but we just didn’t have enough sense to reach and get it. Now dirt track races are won
with shocks. Everybody’s got the springs, but you got to be smart on them shocks on the rebound. Now I’ve
read a whole lot on them and especially these modifieds where they ain’t got no tires on them. It’s all
shocks, which you know everybody ain’t got a damn $7000 shock machine. You don’t have to really have it,
but you need to catch some valve numbers that somebody’s running. But right now boy there’s more races
won on shocks then anything. Little Mikey Marlar and them, you know they are sharp on them shocks.
Sharp as a tack on them shocks.
JT: Was that Hughes/Inmon car the B-8 or the B-1?
Billy T: B-1 I won a big race in it at Mosquito Lake, Michigan. On a mile dirt it was called Expo. A hundred
lap race on a Wednesday night. I won that son of a bitch so far ahead, I didn’t really know cause they had
that draw system. You go in the gate and you reach down in this bucket and you draw. Well I drawed a pole.
So I’m sitting on the pole of the first heat, but hell you don’t know who your racing with. So I took off and
man I beat them bad in the heat race but still yet you don’t know who your racing with. Well they dropped
the green flag in the feature and I took out of there again. And hell on the 29th lap I lapped the second
place car and didn’t even know it. I knew I was passing a lot of cars, but I didn’t know who they was you
know. I’m think there’ a guy right here on my ass cause Bob Wearing and all them guys was up there
running and their pretty damn good if you know what I mean. Well that track up there was so big it got to
raining on the back straightaway and wasn’t raining on the front where the flagman was. And hell I’m
sliding all over that son of a bitch back there. And you would go into the corner and you would just slide to
beat hell you know. Coming down the front straightaway it was dry. So finally they did red flag it and a guy
come out there and told me I’m going to pay you. It was the 30th lap and he said I’m going to pay this race
off right now because they ain’t nobody going to catch your ass and there ain’t no use coming back up here
and rerunning this son of a bitch. He said hell you done lapped the field. And I didn’t know it, but that was in
that Jig-A-Low car that Charlie Hughes won the World 100 in. Man that was a handling son of a bitch. It
was a car that if you did a little something to it meant something. When I got it Ron Schweitzer bought that
off of Jerry Inmon. And Jerry told me down there all you got to do is if you want to turn quick into the
corner is soften the left front spring. If you want to go out around the race track put a little stiffer spring in
the left front and said that’s all you ever got to fool with. And buddy he was dead on it because I could
make that son of a bitch climb a tree. Which the left front on a race car don’t mean much on most of them.
But that car pivoted on the left front wheel and you would wear the left front out before you would wear any
tire out on the car. I don’t know what it was and you had to run a whole lot of caster in the front end. But
you know Jerry Inmon won 76 features in one year with that old car down there in Mississippi. We went
down to Mississippi right after that in fact I was driving that car and Jerry Inmon had a new Stinger car.
And David Pearson started right on the outside of me. I started 5th and David Pearson started 6th. Well
you know hell they get you out of the car and introduce you and everything. Well they introduced David
Pearson and them fans down in Mississippi they didn’t say shit. They introduced Jerry Inmon and they like
to tore the goddamn grandstand down. (laughs) I told David you don’t tally to damn good down in here.
(laughs) I said they don’t give a shit who you are. (laughs) He just laughed he said yeah. They didn’t give a
damn about no damn Nascar. They was dirters. But boy Jerry was tough in that country down there. Down
in there around Louisville, Mississippi and down in there. Shit he would build a fire in your ass if you went
JT: What were you doing in Mississippi?
Billy T: Well they was paying some money down there. It was a NDRA race. They had like 200 cars there.
Man they had the race cars.
JT: Did you run NDRA in your own car?
Billy T: No I drove Duncan’s car in a few of them and I drove that car there (B-1) for Ron Schweitzer car
Billy T: Now I won more races in the B-8 car that I built myself, but I run more races with it. The last year I
had that B-8 car I win 27 Features in it. And I sold it to them Breeden Boy’s and Danny Eichler drove it.
Danny won a lot of races in that son of a bitch. I sold it to them and built me a new one. I built that one for
Bobby Hensley now that was the best car. I liked that car better than any I ever built. I run it four times
and won all four. I really didn’t want to sell it and Bobby bought it. It was a chrome molly car. I didn’t have
it long I run it four times and win all four of them. He come up the garage there and he wanted to buy it. I
priced it to him and hell he just paid me. I pulled my motor up out of it and gave it to him and he put Baker
engine in it and Bobby won some races in it.
JT: Was that the Alabama sponsored car?
Billy T: That was the Alabama car. It was a chrome molly car. The only chrome molly car I ever built. It
was a good one. Then I built that one car for Johnny Holt and Johnny win 6 or 7 features that year. He won
I know 3 or 4 at Clay City (KY) in it. But the funniest thing about that was Johnny and them had it laying
out there for 2 or 3 years when they went to Rayburn cars. And Art Klinefelter went over there and bought
that old car off of Johnny and they went home and knowed absolutely nothing about that race car. They
went home and put the sheet metal back on it and went out there beat all them son of a bitches (laughs) But
that son of a bitch was a good race car.
JT: Didn’t you set on the pole of a Hillbilly 100 with the B-8?
Billy T: Yeah I sat on the pole up there, well I might have been on the pole more than once. But what I done
in the B-8, I was setting on the pole of that son of a bitch and it was so dusty that they called the damn race.
I come down for the green and they put the red out. They said it’s just to dangerous to run for them guys
back in there. I said well hell I can see alright. I was sitting on the pole and they called the damn race and I
had to go back in a week or two weeks and went back and got into the awfulest damn wreck I was ever in
my damn life in a heat race. Because they started the shows all over again and the other we already had
everything lined up and all we had to run was the feature. But that was a money deal them starting it all
over. And I still don’t think it was right. The heats were already run. But I remember the one time, it was
one of them races there but I can’t remember if it was the Hillbilly hundred or not. But I was driving for
Roger Richards and boy we was setting sail. Well we had put some tubes in the tires that day. I blowed out
three goddamn tires. (laugh) But we was a flying in between the time you know. We was running good but
just couldn’t get there. Then one other time. I can’t remember if it was a hillbilly hundred or not, but Gene
McNeeley beat me by just a little bit. I started like 17th. I got there right at the end. Me and Gene
McNeeley had always been real good friends you know. In fact he let me drive his car a time up there. And
I gave him just a little more respect then I should of when I lost that race that day by about a fender. I was
driving the Paul’s pipeline car that day. But I’m going to tell you the funniest thing that happened that day.
That same weeklend I went to Knoxville, Tennessee and led 87 laps and I blew a right rear tire out. Well
then we went to Newport, Tennessee and I run second. Then we went to Pennsboro, West Virginia the next
day. Well you know how that place was up there in the day time. You know you could be, that race track
could drop a second in 10 minutes once the sun got on it. So we was a qualifying and I qualified back in the
heat and we ran the heat race. Well I stayed about where I was at, but I just couldn’t do anything you know.
Just hanging on you know. And I’m going up through the pits and hell I knowed all them old boys up there.
And here come this old boy, I can’t remember his name. But he was chewing a big wad of tobacco. He said,
‘Billy you want to win this race?’ I said well I’d like to but looks like damn little bit a chance of doing it. He
said I’m going to tell you something son. He said your old car is setting good and your coming off straight
you just need a little more bite. And we was running leaf springs, and had a good aluminum motor in that
car. But he said. ‘Go down there and get yourself a set of three inch lowering blocks and put under that car.
Well I had like inch and a half or two inch block under it already. He said, ‘I don’t care.’ Well I went back
down there and I was joking with Bobby Paul. I said, ‘Hey Bobby you want to win this race?’ He said why
shit yes I’d like to, but I don’t see much chance. I said hell a boy told me up there put a set of 3’ lowering
blocks under this son of a bitch. He said by God you go down there and see if that trucks got a set on it we’
ll try anything. Bobby he would try anything it didn’t make no damn difference. So I went down there and I
looked over in behind hanging on the wall, goddamn he had a brand new set there U-bolts and all. I said
give me them. So I bought them and we run up there and put them on there. And I ain’t shittin you I started
17th and I come to the front in that son of a bitch. And like I said if I would have wanted disrespect Gene
McNeely I could have won it. But you know I liked him, of course we ground them up a little bit off that last
corner. But I could have won that race and if it would have been somebody I didn’t care much about I would
have won the race. But you know, you can always a. No matter where your at or how a guy looks
sometimes he knows what he’s talking about. I never did do everything anybody told me but I always
listened. Cause you can always discard it. But hell (laughs) I guess , I don’t know. He knew what he was
talking about. By God he said I run up here in these street stocks and they call me mister you know he was
talking that shit. I said hell I’ll try it because I ain’t going nowhere. I knew damn good and well I ain’t going
to win the way it is. I slapped them on there and buddy and that son of a bitch took off. (laughs)
JT: The #87 Roger Richards car. Didn’t you run 4th or 5th in the World 100 in that car?
Billy T: Yeah, that was the year that Ken Walton win it and I passed him early in the race. And we lost a
weight out of the back end of the car and then I spun off the corner the rest of the day. We went from there
to St. Clairsville the next week and win that big race there. But I should have chalked them 2 up in a row. It
paid $8000 to win there at St. Clairsville and I won it by a damn lap. That was a good car. It was a Roscoe
JT: You think the sport was in better shape 20 years ago or today?
Billy T: Well, I liked it 30 years ago. Because you had Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge, Ford, Chevrolet and
everybody that went to the races owned one of them son of a bitches. Now, you go down the street and look
at all these fucking cars and you don’t even know who in the fuck make them. So nobody goes to racetrack
to watch their car run like it used to be. You had them Ford lover, you had Chevrolet lovers they would go
and sit in them grandstand cause they had one. They had a Chevelle this that and the other. It ain’t that
way no more. I know up there at work I’m driving a mother fucking car car down the road I said boy this is
a nice son of a bitch. I wonder what it is? I get to looking around on it to see what in the fuck this son of a
bitch is and here it is a Kia built in fucking Korea. So that’s had a whole lot to do with the sport. Going out
from under it you know. I’m talking the people in the stands. That’s just like back when we run Tri County
back in about 1970 they would put in the paper we had 4800 people in the stands Saturday night. Well hell
you know if they put 4800 they had 8800. You know they had twice what they put (laughs). Now you got to
give away $50,000 to get 4800 people in there. I don’t know. You know I’m not very much of a race fan to
start with. If I got a reason to be there I don’t mind going, but I just not very much of a race fan. Seem to
me like if I ain’t into it or I ain’t working on a car it just ain’t. I don’t give a damn what Jack Johnson done
you know what I’m saying. There’s an empty spot there. You walk down through the pits and here’s a
mother fucker got everything in the World to race with. Got one of the nicest trailers and trucks and
everything there ever was and here’s his race car sitting there. And here this son of a bitch is on a 4-
wheeler down there standing up on one wheel. Fucking playing games instead of working on that car. A
driver should never have his head out from underneath that race car if he’s going to race. I’m mean he
ought to be doing something. Now days they got so much laying there that they can’t hardly go wrong. And
goddamn they’ll win a race or so and they’ll swell up like goddamn look at me. Then all of a sudden they’ll
fall through their ass and don’t win a race for another 2 or 3 years. Shit. You know it just ain’t they same.
Like I said I go to a racetrack and there’s an empty spot there for me. You know if I go and help somebody
I don’t mind that, but I’m just not a race fan.
JT: I think about what you said with they have so much they can’t hardly go wrong. Now days they are
pushing these 15-16 year old kids. What do you think a 15 year old kid would have done at Northern
Kentucky Speedway back in the day?
Billy T: (laughs) Hey he would of spent one night and he would have went home and never come back and I
promise you that. When we got done bouncing off that son of a bitch. First, he had better be an awful big
boy just to turn the wheel. Another thing when I went to the race track back when I was younger. I would
drive anything that was there. If a guy had an old street stock I would drive it for him. I didn’t give a fuck.
He would say well how much do I owe you. I would say aw take that fucking money and put it back in that
race car. But it was helping me cause you learn something every time your on the racetrack. I don’t care
what your driving you’ll learn something. I drove anything I could get in. But these son of a bitches now
think they are to good. You take these big time late model drivers today and ask him you want to drive this
modified and he’ll say shit no I don’t want to fool with that piece of shit. Here’s something else back when
we run. When you went in there and qualified and you were fast you automatically went to the tail of
everything. So if you made a move you passed cars, we would pass more cars in a week them these guys
pass in 2 months. Because their all ready sitting up there. They’ll run around and you can see it. They’ll run
around there and when they catch that traffic they don’t know what in the fuck to do because they only pass
5 cars a year. We would go over there to Florence and I remember a many a time you would start like 23rd,
24th and they only paid 10 spots. So you run and raced and yellows and raced and finally you slip over that
tenth spot and now your in the money. Now you start working on the money and you get up to 8th or 9th and
now I’m doing pretty good. Now your up to fifth, now I’m going to try and win this son of a bitch see. You
come off the back end every night of the heats and everything. But that made a damn race car driver out of
you. Now days like I said a guy goes in there and goddamn if you invert 6 they’ll cry like a baby. Goddamn
what are you doing to me, but they don’t ever learn much about traffic and it shows up on a lot of them. You
watch them they be leading boy and their just setting sail cause their running all by their self. Then they run
around to the back end and 3 or 4 cars looking at them and goddamn they just about have a heart attack.
Praying for a yellow flag to save them. They don’t want to go on through them. Or they will run in there and
wreck the guy their lapping and get out and just lay on to him. What the hells that son of a bitch doing he
was in my way. See it all the time. But they got so much and with the sponsor money. These son of a bitches
are taking a ride out there, they got all this money coming in and they want to know if their truck is shining.
If their trucks shining their alright. That’s the way it looks to me you know.
JT: Do you think the tire deals have given an unfair advantage to the drivers with them?
Billy T: Hell you can see it. You take like just a few years ago. You had them old Green boys running at
Florence. Now you know they wasn’t worth a shit nowhere else, but they could run Florence. And they had
the money to run Florence. Then they would have a special race and here would come a guy in and lap their
ass, Jack Boggs and them. Now you know that ain’t right, they can’t do that. It’s just like that damned old
son of a bitch Bob Memmer. They bragged on him like he invented racing and the son of a bitch was a
crooked bastard from the word go. He got $25-$30 out of every Hoosier tire that was ever made for UMP.
Because he had them in UMP only and why wouldn’t they give him that, you can’t run nothing else. But the
thing of it is, it was all bullshit. I mean damn it you know some people got away with a lot and some people
didn’t and that wasn’t the way it was suppose to be.
JT: Yeah even as a kid I was smart enough to realize. They said they started it to save the locals money,
but if every local has to go out and buy 4 new tires with their stamp on it. How is that saving them money?
Billy T: Well what the son of a bitch done, him and Hoosier was together and he was getting like $25 a tire
back then for every tire that went to a UMP race no matter who bought it. Well what they done they made
an 11” tire. And I’m down at Knoxville, Tennessee and they says, ‘Billy we got a new tire out and you got
to have these son of a bitches’. And I said well what’s the difference? He said well the side walls wound
different and they come with that left handed bullshit. I said well goddamn send me 4 of them, if I’ve got to
have them. Well when I got them, the whole trick to it was they were like an inch and three quarter wider
than the others. It’s still an 11” tire but it’s an 13/4” wider. That was the wind on them. Well, now you got to
have a wheel to fit the son of a bitch. So what they done was stocked your tire rack about three times a
year coming out with new shit you know. And they still had the same printing on them. Just like them
goddamn tires today. They are still 11” and hell you know how wide they are today, the son of a bitches are
14” wide or better. 11” my ass they ain’t no 11” nowhere. But that was that Bob Memmer shit. And as far
as I’m concerned he robbed the racers all his goddamned life.
JT: Though I remember some of you guys were creative in combating the guys getting the special tires. I’m
sitting here looking at Old Clyde #0 Dazzler Chassis. That right rear tire looks awfully wide (laughs).
Billy T: Yeah (laughs) Your Dad drove that car at Whitewater for Twin 50’s. We won just about everything
up there. He he hey I ain’t shitting you I had a 362 Steel motor in that car with aluminum heads. Well here’
s that goddamn Steve Barnett sitting on the pole with a brand new Rayburn and a brand new aluminum
engine. And Vern was starting like 6th and he said, ‘Boy that’s a bad ass sitting up there on the pole.’ I
said, ‘Shit you run that son of a bitch down and when you do don’t pitty that bastard. Take the side out of
that son of a bitch and go on. Well I didn’t think about him catching him anyway. And what they were doing
was starting the second one the way you finished the first one. But I thought he would be lucky to come up
to 2nd or 3rd. But hell goddamn about the 47 lap he picked this son of a bitch up. I said ah shit. Sure enough
Vern goes down in there, and the fucking sparks a flyin. They made contact and it put Vern through the
infield and dropped him to fourth or fifth. Well that sat Barnett on the pole of the next one and Vern started
in the third row again. Vern come up there and passed him he just run away with it. But we got his attention
on the first one and beat him easy the second one (laughs). But what tickled me was we had about 10 laps to
go. And Vern he was just pulling away on every restart. But he got to running out on the outside of the
racetrack and I said to hell with it, I run right out in the racetrack and told him get back down in the bottom.
Goddamn they was after me. They was going to take our money and do this and that. I said ah fuck you son
of a bitches. Well after the race here come John Lawhorn he said, ‘ Damn it if Billy hadn’t run out on the
racetrack I was going to beat you.’ Vern said, ah bullshit if you would’ve went by me I would’ve went right
back by hell I had that much gas pedal left (laughs). But we just about win both of them up there that night.
But I wasn’t able to drive a car, it was right after I got hurt. I couldn’t hardly see the ground much less the
racetrack. And Vern I put him in that son of a bitch. We was running over at Florence the night before and I
had David Speers in the car and he tore it all to hell. He won the Trophy Dash and then tore it all to hell in
the feature. Vern said let me drive that son of a bitch tomorrow. I said goddamn Vern you see this son of a
bitch laying here? I said I’ll go home a try and me and Little Bill went home and worked all night on that
son of a bitch. And we got it back together but it wasn’t as good as it was a Florence you know. But you
know it’s hard to just get in a car, about the time Vern was learning to drive it well it was over with. But he
really caught the hang of it. Boy that son of a bitch would work a black slick race track.
JT: I’ll never forget the next morning when you called. I answered the phone and you asked for Vern. I
handed him the phone and he said hello and ok and hung up the phone. I said what he say? What he say?
Dad said, ‘Meet you there mother fucker.’ (laughs)
Billy T: Yeah (laugh) But to answer your question we was run 11” tires up there and I had them on a 16”
rim. Vern kept looking at that tire he said that’s the widest goddamn 11” tire I ever seen in my life. (laugh)
And he got down and read on it and said, ‘By god it is an 11” tire. I said get the hell away from that tire.
Goddamn it was a wide son of a bitch.
JT: Goodyear no beadlock.
Billy T: Yeah, but it was an 11” tire but on a 16” rim. I put ether in that son of a bitch and struck a match
and blowed it. To make it hook up on that rim. Got her caught and blew it out. But we skinned their ass with
that son of a bitch.
JT: You know David Speers passed away didn’t you?
Billy T: Yeah I seen that in the Kentucky Racing News and saw where Johnny Wheeler’s Dad passed to.
They was both about the same age I think. I use to race with him all the time too. One thing about David he
could qualify a race car. He was the best qualifier I ever seen. He could of sat on the pole at Indianapolis.
He didn’t race as good as he qualified. But boy I’m telling you he could qualify them son of a bitches and
that was the one thing about racing that hurt me a lot was qualifying. I was talking to Delmas Conley this
year at Portsmouth. That’s the first time I’ve talked to Delmas in a long time. He’s still in there trying to
hack em. He’s crazier than hell. All them guys (Conley Brothers) was crazier than hell. We was up there
one time running, this was back when Delmas was real young and first started. And all them brothers own
this car and Delmas drove it. Well they had our ass beat up there at Portmouth that night. I was driving for
Chandler and I could beat everybody else but I couldn’t beat that son of a bitch. And we was talking about
it. I said well you know we’re second but that’s the best we’re going to do cause that son of a bitch was fast.
Well goddamn I looked up there and I never seen such a goddamn fight in all my life. I mean I’m talking
about a bad ass fist fight. And it was all them damn brothers all fighting each other. And I mean they beat
the living hell out of each other. They loaded that goddamn car up and went out the goddamn gate. (laughs)
I said looky here Chandler we got this son of a bitch and we went on and won it easy. They just got up and
left, but I mean they kicked each others ass for 30 minutes. And I don’t know if it even had anything to do
with racing. But there was 5 of them boys that owned that car and they couldn’t get along worth a shit and I
mean it was fast man. Well you know it’s just like today he’s got the best shit going you know.
JT: When you started building the Dazzler Chassis, seemed to me they had a real short wheelbase?
Billy T: Yeah, I had one of them that had under 100” wheelbase. I went up and down, but the best car I ever
had was 105”. That was the best handling race car I ever had. The shorter you get them the trickier they
are. You would hit it some nights and you couldn’t catch it with a shotgun, but then you go the next night and
it ain’t so good. Just not an all around car, but hot and cold. But 105” wheelbase car was the best that I
JT: What got you started building your own chassis?
Billy T: Well I started racing at Glen Este and every car I ever had even a Rayburn you maintained it
yourself. Like C.J. would tell you, ‘Damn it you got a good race car but I can’t race for you. And he was
right you can’t race for nobody. You got to get in there and learn. You got to change this and change that,
so I just started building my own car and it worked out pretty good. At the time everybody was building
these cars with rack and pinion without power and they would undoubtly break your goddamn hands. I mean
everybody run around with their hands broke. Including me, I have a knot or two still on my hands. So I
went back on my car and put a Vega steering box on it, you had a worm gear on it and it wouldn’t break
your hands. And them cars were light and you really didn’t need power steering on them. That was one
reason I started building my own cars to get away from that damn rack and pinion. They would over power
you, now days they got power hooked to them and you can hold on to them.
JT: Every time I think of you in the Dazzler. I can’t help but think of the last NDRA race at Kingsport,
Tennessee. Seemed like every time Dad was going down to get his car re checked you were coming back
up the mountain from getting yours re checked. And when I say a mountain you know what I’m talking
about from the pits to down in the track.
Billy T: We would go down in there and son of a bitch we would be like 5 pound light. Well you’d have to go
back up that goddamn hill again. They said put 5 more gallon of fuel in it and do this and that. I went down
in that son of a bitch and I’m still light. I said boy you guys got to do some work on them goddamn scales or
something. They liked to wore me out. I never was in such and aggravating race in all my life (laughs).
JT: The first Dazzler chassis I remember would have been at Rockcastle County Mt. Vernon, Kentucky. It
had an aluminum spoiler and side boards that were swirled aluminum. How many hours did you have in
Billy T: It had bunches in them. I done it with a drill press and little round wire brush and swirled that
aluminum. Then I cleared it. That son of a bitch shined like a diamond. Back then you worked your own
stuff you know. You set around and think and you built your stuff. Now days if they can’t buy it they won’t
fool with it. Them guys get brainworshed, it’s the same thing with these goddamn cars raring up off the
ground. Their fucking brainwashed. Everybody thinks if they ain’t got one they can’t win and that’s wrong
as hell. Racings really different. That boy up there at Rocket. I don’t know how he is today, but he use to
be an awful good boy when he worked with me.
JT: They say he give lots of information. My thing is why do I want something 12 other drivers got? I want
Billy T: Your right, your exactly right. After I get in the ballpark he won’t hear from, me no more. Just like
I’ll help anybody around the racetrack I can, but you can’t make a guy beat you. Your there trying to make
a living, you can’t just put a guy out in front of you. Now I’ve done it before. I’ve helped a guy and he’d
beat my ass. Makes you feel like a fool. But I’ll tell you the truth around a racetrack if you help a son of a
bitch he’s a very asshole when he gets to going and he’ll run right into you.
JT: I remember you forgot your helmet one night and Dad broke and you asked him if you could use his
helmet. After we turned to go to the truck to get it you asked is that helmet the same color as your car?
And it was and you didn’t use it. Another time you broke in a heat and got to the pits and saw a green
cooler on your trailer and you threw it into the pond over at Northern Kentucky. You weren’t very fond of
the color green were you?
Billy T: I don’t like it and still don’t like it today. I could do without it. I just never did have it. And that one
I threw in the pond over there. That’s where it belonged (laughs) But you know there can’t be nothing to it.
That’s like a fucking ghost, there ain’t no such thing as a fucking ghost. If there was a ghost I would have
done seen one with the places I’ve been. But it’s just like lighting three cigarettes off of one match. I
wouldn’t do it, can’t be anything wrong with it.
JT: Was that you that use to put a quarter in your shoe laces?
Billy T: No it wasn’t me. I very seldom had a damn quarter to put in my shoes (laughs). That’s like Floyd
Gilbert he was a superstitious bastard. He would stop at the same underpass and all that shit going to a
race and spend a certain amount of time there. He would do all kinds of silly shit. Now that goddamn Floyd,
he was somewhat of a horses ass, but he belongs in the Hall of Fame. I mean he was an arrogant bastard,
he would tell you he was going to beat you and if you wasn’t damn careful he’d do it. And I mean they ain’t
nobody that knows that son of a bitch. We done a lot of racing together and I know him about as well as
anybody and that son of a bitch is insane. He was he was fucking crazy. I seen the son of a bitch sit in the
qualifying line with a handkerchief and blindfold himself. Wouldn’t look at nobody or nothing clear up until
he got ready to go out on the racetrack and pull that blindfold off and go out there and set on the pole.
JT: Did you have anything like that that you used to psyche yourself up?
Billy T: I never paid any attention to shit like that. I knew what I was going to do, or what I was going to try
to do. You set your mind to doing something and you going to do it. It’s just like when your racing and your
leading a hundred lap feature for so long. Then all of a sudden say there’s an accident and somebody gets
hurt and the race is down for close to an hour or something. You got to get back on that track and get that
rhythm back. You got to think about what the hell you were doing or you’ll fuck around and lose that race.
And you got to do it as soon as that engine starts. You got to think of nothing else accept where was I when
we quit and you got to bring it all back together. Sometimes you’ve seen people get beat right at the end of
a race on account of shit like that. They lose their concentration; lose what they had and all a sudden
somebody rolls by. Then the harder they try the worse they get.
JT: I wonder about when I was a kid. Why did they have more Wednesday and Thursday races back then?
Billy T: Well you know we use to run like 3 or 4 nights a week. I don’t know whether they are so big a
money that the fans can’t afford to go to them all. Something there that’s got them blocked. But we use to
run like Bulls Gap, Tennessee, then we would go to Newport, Tennessee, then we would go from there to
Pennsboro, West Virginia or somewhere, then from there to Tyler County, West Virginia. And we would do
that all in one week you know. But they was all like one night shows. Now they’ve got to where they double
this shit up and they keep you hanging there for 2 or 3 days. Then the people come ands spend all their
goddamn money at one track and they just don’t do it anymore. But it was better racing when they run all
those single shows like that.
JT: What does it mean to be inducted into the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame 2005 class?
Billy T: You asking me that? (laughs) I really don’t know. I you know. I never did keep any trophies or
anything I gave them all away. It just never really did quite interest me. I’m glad that they did it because it’
s a little something but you know how it is. You know I’m not going to jump up and down and holler I’m in
the Hall of Fame. But I’m glad that they did it.
JT: Are there any drivers that you think should be in the Hall of Fame?
Billy T: Well I really don’t who’s in there. But I'll tell you Carl Kiser was awful good. He won a bunch of
races. I'd say if anybody won a thousand races it was him. I just never saw why somebody didn’t have him
up. Kinda looks to me like they kinda over look him. But I’m mean he beat the ass of Ralph Latham and
me and everybody else at the time. Of course he was getting older by the time I come up, but now that son
of a bitch could get the job done. I think your Dad ought to go in there. But I really don’t know what they
got in there.
JT: Well from this area Floyd Gilbert and Pat Patrick are it.
Billy T: Ralph (Latham) ain’t in there?
Billy T: Well he should be. Man when he was driving for Jim Cook he beat us like a drum. Yeah he should
be in there.
JT: What’s your plans for the up coming season you helping Danny (Teegarden)?
Billy T: Yeah I’m going to help Dan some. We got a new car to fool with. He does pretty good. He run
better at Brushcreek last year than any time since I been fooling with him. But he was kinda use to that
speed coming out of a sprint car. He was flat ass flying up there. He won the heat going away and he
should have won the feature. He had the lead three different times and if you can lead a race three different
times you ought to be able to win it. But he got excited and got into the fence and ran third. He ran third
laying in the fence. (laughs) But he was really going.
JT: What do you think of that track?
Billy T: That's a fast son of a bitch. It will really deceive you it's fast. I like the place.
JT: What's little Bill's plans this year?
Billy T: I don't know I'm pretty sure he'll run something.
JT: I can honestly say he's one of the smoothest drivers I've ever saw.
Billy T: Yeah he's pretty damn smooth. He give them hell down there at my track.
JT: Is there anything you want to say to all your fans out there reading this?
Billy T: I would just like to thank them for being there. I know when your at a race track you got some
there that are with you for life and you got some that don’t like you. But that’s what makes racing. I
appreciate them all. I had like two or three hundred people went to Florence with me on a Saturday night.
But they wasn’t all this shit to do in the country like there is today. You know we got ready and went racing
on Saturday night. That’s all I done was eat and breathe them damn race cars. That’s just the way it was.
JT: You don’t have any regrets with that do you?
Billy T: No, shit no. I wish I could do it again. I’d like to start all over right now.