Ramo Stott

Ramo Stott

6/4/1934

Ramo Stott raced from 1967-1977 and 1984. Ramo, former ARCA and reigning USAC stock car champion, won the pole for the 1976 Daytona 500.

With 27 career ARCA victories, Ramo Stott was well known for his winning ways in the early '70s driving the winged Plymouth Superbirds. Stott was overpowering, winning the title in both 1970 and 1971.

Stott was the instigated of the huge crash in the Winston 500 at Talladega, then called the Alabama International Motor Speedway. The wreck took out 21 cars though thankfully there were no fatalities. The wreck was triggered when the engine failed Stott's Mercury. He had started 13th in an expanded field of 60 cars.  The motor malfunctioned as he swept off the second turn banking, spinning him and spewing a wide oil slick down the backstretch.  The timing hardly could have been worse, for approaching fast was the onrushing front pack, led by Baker, who had won the pole at 193.435 mph in a Dodge.

Instead of a clear path Baker found Stott's car blocking the way.  Stott had jumped from his cockpit, but saw the field fast approaching and jumped back in, hoping the roll cage would protect him, which it did.

"The impact tore my car all to pieces," said Baker.  "Big parts were knocked off it, including the motor.  I went burrowing through the grass, with what was left of the front end digging up so much dust it almost choked me.  But other cars were getting damaged worse.

"I saw Bobby Allison running along the outside wall trying to get through.  But James Hylton spun up in front of him and the crash sounded louder than railroad men hooking up a hundred boxcars at the same time.  It looked like someone had taken a giant pair of shears and cut both those cars in half.

"About this time I heard a very, very strange noise.  It was Cale Yarborough's car coming over me in the air.  His motor was going, 'Wha-room! Wha-room!  Wha-room!  Cale was still accelerating."

An instant earlier the Chevrolet of Yarborough had become airborne when it hit a Chevy driven by Ronnie Daniel.  Yarborough sailed over Daniel's car and then had Allison's Chevy run under him before he flew over Baker.

"I didn't think I was ever going to come down," recalls Yarborough, who miraculously landed without injury.

"When Cale got out of his car I went rushing to him," continued Baker.  "We were so amazed to be alive that we started hugging each other.  Here you have two grown men embracing each other like two children who have just survived an earthquake."

The rejoicing ended abruptly.

Although a minute or more had elapsed since the accident began, drivers were still wrecking.  A second wave of cars was crashing with all the wildness of the first wave.

"Cale and I were stunned," said Baker.  "We looked up and saw one car going by as high as a telephone pole.  And another one, Joe Frasson's Dodge, was coming right at us backward and appearing to be picking up speed.

"Call it reflex action or whatever, but Cale and I sensed at the same split second what we had to do.  Although we were still holding on to each other, we jumped arm-in-arm to the top of the inside wall, or bank, and got out of the way.  I'm not sure how high that barrier is.  But I doubt anyone ever has jumped higher from a flat-footed position, not even Michael Jordan.  Me and Cale probably beat the Olympic record."

Several top stars blamed the scope of the mayhem on the expanded field, which was NASCAR's largest in 15 years.

"There were too many cars out there," huffed Yarborough. "Too many inexperienced drivers.  It probably was almost two minutes after Buddy and I got out of our cars that the wrecking began again.  Experienced drivers don't let that happen."

Only 17 of the 60 starters were running at the finish, meaning this race produced one of the greatest attrition rates in NASCAR history.

Four drivers were injured, Wendell Scott, Earl Brooks, Slick Gardner and Frasson.  Scott was hurt the worst, suffering a cracked pelvis, three broken ribs and a lacerated arm.  These injuries, plus the loss of a new Mercury he'd just bought, perhaps the best car he'd ever owned, essentially ended the career of the only African-American driver ever to win a race at NASCAR's top level.

To this day Yarborough maintains that it's miraculous that the "Big One" of May 6, 1973 didn't produce much bleaker developments.

"We have witnessed the biggest miracle we'll ever see," he said at the time.  "With all the cars that were hit in the drivers' doors, you know the Good Lord had His hand on the backstretch.  He was with us."

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