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Friday, July 10, 2015

Lake Speed #83 Purex Ford

    When I was a kid, I loved to cheer for NASCAR driver Lake Speed~ Although he only won 1 race in NASCAR's top division, Lake was a fan favorite, and a really nice guy~ He started his racing career at age 13, racing karts, and over the years, Speed won the International Karting Federation National Championship six times~ In 1978, he won the prestigious Karting World Championship, the only American ever to do so~ In 1980, after a discussion with NASCAR promoter Humpy Wheeler, Speed chose to move up to NASCAR racing~

    He bought his first car in Chicago, and ran 19 races in his rookie season, finishing 8th @ Darlington in his third career start, ending the season with 5 top 10's, 22nd in points, and finishing second to Jody Ridley for Rookie of the Year honors~ In 1981, Speed again fielded his own car, starting 27 of the 31 races on the schedule~ He failed to qualify for the Daytona 500, but managed to win the 30 lap consolation race, leading the race from start to finish~ He netted another 6 top 10's this season, and finished 18th in the points standings~

    Also during this season, Speed enabled future pace car driver Elmo Langley to start his 536th and final NASCAR race @ Dover in the Mason Dixon 400, where Langley started and finished in 29, competing only 6 laps before he was sidelined with driveshaft failure~ In 1982, Speed ran his first full season on the NASCAR circuit, and his first for another car owner, driving for Roger Hamby~ Speed struggled during the season, but still managed 5 top 10's, and finished 20th in the points standings~
                                                   Lake Speed's Purex car @ Pocono~
Lake Speed #83 Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog purex

    Speed ran a limited schedule in 1983 for established car owner Hoss Ellington, competing in 18 races~ He scored his first career top 5 this season, a 4th @ Rockingham, and followed that up with a 3rd at Talladega~ By seasons end, Speed had 2 top 5's, 5 top 10's, and finished 27th in the points standings~ 1984 was much of the same, with Speed tallying 2 top 5's, 7 top 10's, finishing 26th in the points in 19 races~ In 1985, Speed had a breakthrough year, finishing 2nd to Bill Elliott in the Daytona 500 driving for RahMoc Racing~

    Lake followed this up with a 10th at Richmond, and a 4th at Rockingham, taking the points lead early in the season~ He finished the season with 2 top 5's, 14 top 10's, and a career best 10th in the points standings~ Speed started the 1986 season off well, with a 10th place finish in the Daytona 500 and Rockingham, but was released after the 4th race of the season~ He filled in for the ailing Rick Wilson @ Charlotte, finishing 14th~

                                              Lake Speed battling with Davey Allison~
Lake Speed #83 Purex Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog Davey Allison

    For 1987, Lake formed his own team with sponsorship coming from Wynn's Car Care Products, Kmart, and Delco Batteries~ The purple and white Oldsmobile donned the #83, in honor of the year Lake became a born-again Christian~ In 13 starts, he managed 1 top 5, and 5 top 10's~ In 1988, with strong support from Hoosier tires, Speed ran strong in the Daytona 500 before dropping out due to engine failure~

    Speed's moment of glory came @ Darlington in the TranSouth 500~ After qualifying 8th, Speed methodically charged his way to the front, taking the lead and driving away with the show~ He led 178 of the 367 laps, lapping the field up to second place finisher Alan Kulwicki to score his only NASCAR victory~ One of the factors in his victory was that he was the only driver who tested the Hoosier tires @ Darlington, where most of his competitors thought that the Hoosier tires would blister~ Speed ended the season with 1 win, 4 top 5's, and 7 top 10's, finishing 17th in the points~

                                                          Lake Speed #83 Purex Ford~
Lake Speed #83 Purex Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog
                                                               Click pics to enlarge~
Lake Speed #83 Purex Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog

                 
    Speed ran this car from 1992 till 1993, for a total of 23 races, failing to qualify for 3 of them, and never scoring a top 5 or top 10 with the car~ This is a really nice looking car though~ For the year it was produced, it was one of the more colorful cars~ I wish they would have put silver rims on it, to match the actual car Lake drove~ I wouldn't call this car anymore rare than most 1/64 Racing Champions cars, but it does tend to be harder to find than some of them, out in the wild anyway~ I like the Ford cars of this era, they seemed to look a bit bigger than the others, especially the Pontiac's~ Lake's first race in this car, however, was in a Chevrolet~

    As with some of the other drivers I've wrote about, I have other Lake Speed cars that were based off of his later career, so I'll save the rest for a later post~ Lake Speed's career didn't pan out to be much, but he was always someone I rooted for as a child~ He is retired from NASCAR now, but still runs some kart races~ If you have anything you'd like to add to the post, please feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below~ Also below are some videos on the man himself~ As always, thanks for stopping by the blog~

                                                  Where Are They Now: Lake Speed

                                                                Speed's only Cup win~

                                                   1989 Lake Speed flip @ Daytona~

                                         Michael Waltrip fights Lake Speed 1995 Michigan~

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