Independent 250 – November 25, 1973: After completing the 1973 NASCAR Grand National season, Chapel Hill, North Carolina’s Ray Williams did something that no other racer dared attempt; he promoted a Grand National race without NASCAR. Williams, an independent owner/driver, had finished 25th in driver standings for the previous season but collected only $22,738 for his efforts. He felt that too much of NASCAR’s financial attention was focused on the corporate sponsored teams at a time when the under funded independent teams were struggling. The country was also in the middle of a recession and gas prices were beginning to spike. To help generate funds for his fellow independents, Williams organized and promoted the “Independent 250”, an event held for NASCAR’s independent drivers at Trico Speedway in Rougemont, North Carolina.

The rules set by Williams for the “Independent 250” were simple: no carburetor restrictor plates or engine restrictions (which would allow teams to use the big block engines that were being phased out by NASCAR), a lenient technical inspection policy, no weight handicaps for the cars and usage of standard Grand National width tires. The only race control requirements were single-file restarts and one mandatory pit stop. The entry field included: Dave Marcis, James Hylton, Cecil Gordon, Buddy Arrington, Ray Williams. Bill Dennis, Bill Champion, Henley Gray, Richard Brown, Elmo Langley, Ed Negre, Jabe Thomas, J.D. McDuffie, Bill Seifert, Walter Ballard, Richard Childress, Dean Dalton, Wendell Scott, Earl Brooks, Bill Hollar and Charlie Roberts.

The race was a box office disaster as only 2,000 fans watched Cecil Gordon capture first place along with its meager $500 prize. The lackluster attendance caused pole sitter Dave Marcis to state “It was a good race run at the wrong time of year.” An upbeat Jabe Thomas however added “..there ain’t been a better race all year.”

Williams leased the track for the 1974 season and intended to promote another “Independent 250” but his efforts failed. “When I had the Grand National race, I had a truck, a trailer, two cars…” stated Williams, “a year later, I don’t have no trailer, no truck, no car, no tools, no nothing. I was history.”

Sources: (The Gastonia Gazette, Howard Owen, -Nov 22, 1973) (Stock Car Racing Magazine, Jonathan Ingram – April 1994)

Home | 1972 | 1973 | Drivers | Tracks |  Races

Website is property of Jeff Droke

Website is property of Jeff Droke, Memphis TN