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Not forgotten

Bowani Racing honored for its role in NASCAR as part of Hall of Fame exhibit

Posted: February 24, 2011 8:52 a.m.
Updated: February 25, 2011 5:00 a.m.
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CAMDEN’S BONDY LONG (right) caught up with longtime friend and racing colleague Bobby Allison at a reception in which both men were honored at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte.

In just six years as a part of NASCAR’s Grand National (now Sprint Cup) Series, Camden-based Bowani Racing left an indelible mark on the sport of stock car racing.

Team owner Bondy Long, along with his brothers Walter and Nicky, their race team and drivers, most notably Ned Jarrett, raced in NASCAR’s premier circuit from 1963 through 1968. Their best year came in 1965 when Jarrett helped the Bowani Racing win the series crown.

Now, Bowani Racing is part of an ongoing exhibit at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte entitled, "Short Careers, Lasting Legacy." The exhibit, which will be on display through late June in the facility’s Great Hall, opened last month with Bondy Long and 2011 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Allison among the dignitaries on hand for the unveiling.

"We made a commitment to provide new exhibits throughout the year," said Winston Kelley, executive director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. "The unveiling of this exhibition will mark the fourth change to the Great Hall since we opened in May. In changing exhibits, we have been able to educate the public on historical and current events in the sport."

"Short Careers, Lasting Legacy" showcases authentic artifacts which tell the story of some of NASCAR’s most memorable personalities. The exhibition recognizes individuals who left the sport in their prime or before they reached their full potential.

"Some of the competitors and personalities who had relatively short careers in NASCAR made a lasting impact on the sport," said Kelley. "This exhibition pays tribute to those talented individuals. We are honored that several family members, colleagues and friends plan to join us Saturday for the launch of our first, new exhibition in 2011."

"Short Careers, Lasting Legacy" honors the careers and pays tribute to the legacy of those who left a unique mark on the competition and character of NASCAR. Highlighting the exhibition is Tim Richmond’s No. 25 Folgers Monte Carlo (1987), Alan Kulwicki’s No. 7 Hooters Thunderbird (1992) and Davey Allison’s No. 28 Texaco Thunderbird. Additional artifacts on display commemorate NASCAR contributors Bondy Long, Carl Kiekhaefer, Adam Petty, Billy and Bobby Myers and others.

At the age of 25, Bondy Long was believed to be the youngest owner in the history of NASCAR’s premier racing series. He was definitely the youngest owner to win a championship, a feat which Bowani Racing accomplished in 1965.

With Jarrett, who will be enshrined into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in May as part of its second induction class, behind the wheel, Bowani Racing won the 1965 crown in a year in which Jarrett won 13 of the circuit’s 53 races. He finished inside the top five on 41 occasions that year.

The most memorable victory for the local team in 1965 came when Jarrett drove his Ford to a 14-lap victory in the Southern 500 at Darlington. It is still the largest margin of victory in NASCAR history.

"Ned always said it was his biggest win, and I’d say it was our biggest, too," Long was quoted as saying when asked about the 1965 Southern 500. "We won two Atlanta 500s, but that race at Darlington, being in close proximity to Camden … I mean, that's your home court. It felt so good to win that race."

The 1965 campaign was a magical one for Bowani Racing. But after that season, Ford pulled out of the sport when NASCAR approved Chrysler’s "hemi" engine, giving the automaker a large advantage in horsepower. Also in 1966, an injury forced Jarrett to retire.

Bowani Racing continued as a team through 1968, employing several different drivers, including, at one time or another, A.J. Foyt and Dick Hutcherson, the latter of whom won two races for Long and company.

In the team’s six years on the Grand National circuit, Bowani Racing entered 25 races and came away with 29 victories with Jarrett taking the checkered flag for 27 of his 50 career wins.

Fans can view this exhibit and the entire 15,000 square foot NASCAR Hall of Fame, located in uptown Charlotte, daily from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. General admission to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which includes the Hard Card experience, is $19.95 for adults, $17.95 for seniors and military, $12.95 for children 5-12 and free for children younger than 5.

Tickets can be purchased by calling 877-231-2010 or at www.nascarhall.com.

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