orenzen was born in December 30, 1934 in Elmhurst,
Illinois a suburb of Chicago. He gr
was born in December 30, 1934 in Elmhurst, Illinois a suburb of
Chicago. He grew up listening to the NASCAR stars of the day, Tim
Flock, Herb Thomas, Fireball Roberts, Buck Baker, Curtis Turner, and
Joe Weatherly on his transistor radio. At age 12, the local police
seized his homemade go-kart after complaints from neighbors and a
report that he had outrun a police car. At age 16, he had saved
enough money working with his father, who was a carpenter, to buy an
old Plymouth which ended up getting rolled over. He began to test
his racing skills by racing local hot-rodders on the roads outside
Lorenzenís first NASCAR
Grand National race came in 1956 at Langhorne, but after 7 events
and being dead broke due to the long trips to the predominantly
southern schedule of NASCAR, Lorenzen parked his NASCAR dreams.
Lorenzen decided that it would be more economical to compete with
the USAC Series, as it would require less traveling. He competed in
the USAC Modifieds and then moved to the USAC Late Model Stock
Division. He won the USAC Series Championship in 1958 and 1959. With
the confidence of two USAC championships under his belt, Lorenzen
returned to the NASCAR Grand National Series for the 1960 season
campaigning a Ford. With sponsorship from a seat belt manufacturer,
Lorenzen made 10 starts and posted 3 top-5s and 5 top-10s. By the
end of the season, Lorenzen was swimming in debt and was forced to
sell his car and equipment and resumed working as a carpenter. His
equipment had not been as competitive as the stars of the series,
but his driving talent spoke for itself. Ralph Moody of the Ford
factory backed racing empire of Holman-Moody was quite impressed.
Moody called Lorenzen on Christmas Eve and offered him the driving
duties of one of the Holman-Moody cars for the 1961 season. Lorenzen
Lorenzenís first NASCAR
Grand National Series win came in the 1961 Rebel 300 at Darlington.
He finished the year with 3 wins, 6 top-5s, 6 top-10s, and 4 poles.
In 1962, he won at Atlanta and Augusta, netting 2 wins, 11 top-5s,
12 top-10s, and 3 poles. In 1963, Lorenzen won at Atlanta, Bristol,
Martinsville, North Wilkesboro, Indianapolis Raceway Park and
Darlington, finishing the year with 6 wins, 21 top-5s, 23 top-10s,
and 8 poles. He finished 3rd in the NASCAR Grand National
In 1964, Lorenzen won 8
events, posted 10 top-5s, 10-top10s, and 7 poles. But during the
season, he lost two friends and competitors in the series, Joe
Weatherly, who died in a crash at the season opener at Riverside,
California, and Fireball Roberts, who died from complications that
resulted from burns he received in a crash in the World 600 at
Lorenzen won 4 events in
1965 including the Daytona 500. He posted 5 top-5s, 6 top-10s, and 6
poles. In 1966, he won twice, had 6 top-5s, 6 top-10s and 2 poles.
In 1967, Lorenzen won at Daytona, had 2 top-5s and 2 top-10s. But
after 5 events, at the age of 32, Lorenzen retired from the sport
after the running of the Atlanta 500 citing stomach ulcers. Lorenzen
fielded a car for and up and coming Bobby Allison for the remainder
of the 1967 season
In 1970, Lorenzen returned
to the sport he loved to compete in 7 events driving for Charlotte
track promoter Richard Howard. He posted 1 top-5, 1 top-10, and 1
In 1971, Lorenzen drove
Plymouths for Ray Nichols sponsored by STP. The legendary Wood
Brotherís offered Lorenzen the opportunity to drive for them in the
1971 Southern 500 but Lorenzen destroyed the car in practice and the
Wood Brothers lost interest. At the end of 1971, Lorenzen had
started 14 events, posted 7 top-5s, 9 top-10s, and 1 pole.
In 1972, Hoss Ellington
fielded cars for Lorenzen. With a dismal performance, Lorenzen quit
mid-season after entering 8 events and returned to Illinois.
Lorenzen scored wins in
seven of the 12 years he competed in the NASCAR Grand National
Series. Lorenzen had been smart over the years of racing while
enjoying the spoils of success; he had invested his earnings in the
stock market in real estate.
Lorenzen was inducted into
the National Motorsports Press Association's Hall of Fame in 1978,
the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1991, and the
Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2001.
October 17, 2004
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