A coal miner's dream came true last Sunday when Farrell Harris, a 39-year-old part-time driver from Pikesville, Ky., set an oval-track record for stock cars at Talladega, Ala. Harris turned a lap of the 2.66-mile speedway at 201.439 miles per hour to shade the 10-year record of 201.104 set by the late Bobby Isaac.
Harris, who owns a coal mine, has been driving every now and then in Grand National races since 1975.
He set the record in a Chevrolet Camaro with a beefed-up, 305 cubic-inch engine. Harris has no plans to race regularly now. The record was his only goal.
The fastest lap at Talladega, the nation's biggest oval, is the late Mark Donohue's 221.12 mph record set five years ago in a turbocharged Porsche sports car. But the fastest lap on any speedway was registered last year when Dr. Hans Liebold drove a turbocharged Mercedes-Benz experimental car at 251.01 mph around the 7.4-mile Nardo, Italy, test track.
It has been reported that Darrell Waltrip's chief mechanic, Buddy Parrott, was dismissed again by the Gatorade team despite Waltrip's four Grand National victories this season and fourth place in the point standings. Parrott was released last winter when Waltrip failed to win the title. He was rehired a few weeks later.
To keep his hand in, Parrott assisted Farrell Harris in his record attempt. For Harris, Parrott carefully taped every opening on the Camaro's body to make it as slippery as possible.
Danny Bennett of Lanham has a substantial lead in the late-model point standings at Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas. With two wins, he has 166 points and is trailed by Al Dailey of Alexandria with 136 and Billy Earl of Bowie with 120.
Alexandria's Sherrill Pardue has won only once but leads the street-stock class race with 154 points. Three-time winner Wayne Loy of Alexandria follows with 150. Roger Austin of Manassas has 112.
In the ministock division, Denzil (Putt) Dillman of Highland, Md., has two wins and 112 points to head the class. Dillman once raced the heavy modifieds at Dorsey, Md. Ray Martin of Fredericksburg is second with 100 points, followed by George Streaker of West Friendship, Md., with 76.
The mini-division's longest race of the season (50 laps, or 18.75 miles) is next Saturday night at Old Dominion.
Rick Mears, last year's Indianapolis 500 winner, will finally get a Grand Prix start. He has been signed to drive the third Brabham entry in the British round on July 13. Nelson Piquet, now first in the point standings, is the team's No. 1 driver.
Entered in the Long Beach Grand Prix earlier this year, Mears was denied the chance to start because he had not been named as a competitor 90 days in advance. That rule has since been discarded.
The reason there are so many accidents at the entrance to the Daytona Speedway's curving homestretch is explained by Dennis Shaw, who will drive an AMC Spirit in the six-hour race there Today.
"Dropping lower on the track until you come across the tunnel (under the track), things get a little tricky because of a slight bump created by the tunnel, he says. "If your wheels are not squarely aligned, the bump can pitch you into the wall or loop the car."
For holiday racing, there is the 58th annual Barbara Fritcie Classic motorcycle race over the half-mile Frederick (Md.) fairgrounds track at 2 p.m. next Friday. After an absence of 21 years, the U.S. Auto Club's championship dirt-track cars return to the Williams Grove (Pa.) Speedway next Saturday at 8 p.m. The feature for the 24 cars is a 50-miler. Twenty years ago, when dirt-track cars also raced at Indianapolis, the Grove race was the only half-miler on their schedule.
Studebackers live on in the hearts and garages of 10,000 members of the Studebakers Drivers Club. About 500 of the cars will show up in Gettysburg, Pa., July 9-12 for the club's annual show.
Why Gettysburg? Because in 1830 John Studebaker set up a blacksmith and wagon shop there.
Road Atlanta just canceled an auto race that didn't exist. When the warring USAC and CART fractions came to terms in early May, the combined group issued a 12-race schedule with two road races in it. Neither was at Road Atlanta.
Last week, the track "canceled" the unscheduled race. There may be a race there in 1981.The circuit is owned by the Whittington brothers, who raced at Indianapolis this year.