James Blackburn

James Blackburn

22/4/1936 - 28/2/2006

James Ronald "Bunkie" Blackburn was a NASCAR racecar driver who grew up surrounded by racing, his father owned and operated the Fayetteville, North Carolina racetrack.

In 1967 he was part of a three driver crew that set a world speed record of 174 mph in a Smokey Yunkick Z-28 Camaro at the Bonneville Salt Flats in a USAC/FIA event.

In 1968 he won the Permatex 300 at Daytona from the pole. He also won poles at Talladega and Bristol and was inducted into the Pure Darlington Record Club in 1964 after posting a record qualifying time. He finished in the top 10 twice in the Daytona Firecracker 400.

Blackburn also competed throughout the Middle Tennessee area on dirt tracks and at Nashville Speedway against drivers like Darrell Waltrip, who lives in Franklin, and Coo Coo Marlin, the late father of current Nextel Cup driver Sterling Marlin, also of Columbia.

He had 14 Top 10 and 4 Top 5 finishes in Grand National, driving racecars from the late 1950s to the early 1970s for Smokey Yunick and Petty Enterprises.

He almost won the 1961 Dixie 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in relief for Junior Johnson. He took Johnson's car to the lead with 5 laps to go after Fireball Roberts ran out of gas. Bunkie also ran out of gas on the final lap to hand the victory to David Pearson.

He retired from racing after an injury and went to work for General Electric in Columbia for 20 years before retiring.

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