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Friday, December 2, 2016

Morgan Shepherd #21 Cheerwine Ford

   Hello again NASCAR fans, and welcome to the NASCAR Racing Champions diecast blog~ I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving~ The Christmas season is now upon us, and filling people with Christmas cheer, which got me thinking about Cheerwine~ The super sweet burgundy soda used to be a regional thing, but is now being sold nationwide by Pepsi Co.~ Growing up in the south, I drank my fair share of the stuff, and I must say, it's truly a classic taste.. especially if you can find it in a glass bottle~

   Our old friend Morgan Shepherd had the honor of driving the #21 Cheerwine Ford partially during the 1994, and 1995 BGN seasons~ In today's post, I'm gonna be going over his time in the Cheerwine car, which spanned 15 races during 2 seasons~ Oddly enough, I couldn't find a single picture of Morgan on track in the car~ If anyone has a picture of it they'd like to send in, you can do so by emailing me @ Now, let's grab us an ice cold Cheerwine, and get right into this story~

                                           Morgan Shepherd #21 Cheerwine Ford hero card~
Morgan Shepherd #21 Cheerwine Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast racing blog BGN Busch Age 2017

    In 1994, at the age of 52, Morgan Shepherd started the BGN season off with newly acquired sponsor, Cheerwine~ The team got off to a bumpy start, qualifying 29th in the season opening Goody's 300 @ Daytona, but was able to fair much better after the green flag fell, charging their way up to a 7th place finish, which turned out to his season high~

    He then qualified 36th in the Goodwrench 200 @ Rockingham, and finished 13th, 1 lap off the pace of race winner, Terry Labonte, who was driving his self-owned #14 MW Windows Chevrolet~ Shepherd wouldn't race again in the BGN series until the 6th race on the schedule, in the Mark III Vans 200 @ Darlington~ While he had a season high starting spot with a 5th place lap, he just didn't have what it took during the race, which was run in very cold conditions, and was only able to muster up a 19th place finish, one lap down to race winner, Mark Martin's #60 Winn-Dixie Ford~

   Shepherd next raced in the Goody's 250 @ Bristol, where he had a horrid weekend~ Starting from the 31st starting position, he never was a threat in the race, and fell out of competition on lap 164, due to rear end issues, and finished 25th~ This was the infamous race where Mark Martin pulled off the track 1 lap early, thinking the race was over~ He ended up finishing in 11th place, and the race was instead won by David Green, who ended up winning the BGN championship that season~ It was the only race he won all year long~

                                                           Cheerwine advertisement~
Morgan Shepherd #21 Cheerwine Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast racing blog BGN Busch Age 2017

   Morgan next ran the car in the Champion 300 @ Charlotte, where he started 37th, and was caught up in a lap 46 crash, which involved 9 other drivers~ Chad Little suffered the most damage in the crash, including a broken collarbone~ Phil Parsons went on to win the race, which would be his final BGN victory~ He was driving the #29 White Rose Collectibles Chevrolet, and was using Hoosier tires~

   Shepherd  qualified well in the Fram Filter 500K @ Talladega, with a 6th place run, but  faded during the race, after leading for 5 laps, and finished in 17th, 1 lap down to race winner, Ken Schrader, who was driving the #52 AC Delco Chevrolet~ This would end up being the final win of Kenny's BGN career~ He next ran in the Gatorade 200 @ Darlington, where he rolled off in 29th, and worked his way up to a 19th place finish~

   His final race in the 1994 BGN season came in the Autolite 250 @ Richmond, where he started in 13th, but dropped out of competition after only 41 laps, due to a handling problem~ In the 8 races he ran during the season, he recorded 1 lone top 10 finish, and led a total of 5 laps~ He finished 45th in the final points standings~ Going into the 1995 BGN season, Cheerwine stayed with Shepherd, and the team ran a total of 7 races during the year~ For some reason, Shepherd chose to skip the season opening race @ Daytona, and instead ran his first race of the season @ Rockingham, one week later~

                                          Custom Morgan Shepherd Racing Champions card~
Morgan Shepherd #21 Cheerwine Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast racing blog BGN Busch Age 2017

    In the Goodwrench 200 @ Rockingham, Shepherd had his best run of the season, with a 6th place starting position, and a 5th place finish~ He led for 20 laps, but was passed by Chad Little, who never looked back on his way to victory lane, in the #23 Harris-Teeter Ford~ To date, Shepherd's 5th place finish in the race is his final top 5 in the BGN series~ The following week, in the Hardee's 250 @ Richmond, Morgan qualified in 23rd, and finished in 37th, due to rear end problems~

   He then ran the following week, in the Busch Light 300 @ Atlanta, where he rolled off in 34th, and beat and banged his way up to a 15th place finish~ Johnny Benson Jr. won the race, driving the #74 Lipton Tea Chevrolet, and driver Jim Bown had an outstanding run all day long, leading 4 laps, and finishing 3rd, in the #51 Luck's Foods Chevrolet~

   The Cheerwine team was in good spirits for the Mark III Vans 200 @ Darlington, after a 10th place qualifying effort~ Shepherd was running strong until he blew an engine on lap 72, which resulted in a 36th place finish~ Larry Pearson got the win, driving the #92 Stanley Tools Chevrolet~ It was his first win in the series since 1988~

                                                   Old Cheerwine painted advertisement~
Morgan Shepherd #21 Cheerwine Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast racing blog BGN Busch Age 2017

    After skipping the next 4 events on the circuit, Shepherd was back @ Charlotte, in the Red Dog 300~ After qualifying in 23rd, the car suffered ignition issues after only 51 laps of competition~ This resulted in a 36th place finish for Morgan and the team~ Shepherd must have been a good luck charm for Chad Little, because Little won this race too, driving the #23 Bayer Ford~ Tracy Leslie, who started 2nd, also had a strong race, leading 48 laps, and finishing in 3rd~ Rich Bickle won his first career BGN pole for the race, and finished in 8th~

   Shepherd next raced in the series for the Detroit Gasket 200 @ Michigan~ He started the race in 21st, and was able to come home in the 11th spot, one lap down to race winner, Mark Martin, who was driving the #60 Winn-Dixie Ford~ Dale Jarrett dominated the race in the #32 Mac Tools Ford, and at first, had won the race... it was later found out hours later that Jarrett's car had an illegal carburetor, so he was banished to a last place finishing position, and the win was given to Martin~ This was also the final race for legendary BGN series driver, Jimmy Hensley~

   Morgan's final race with the Cheerwine sponsorship came in the All Pro Bumper To Bumper 300 @ Charlotte, where he qualified 9th in the 44 car field, led for 3 laps, and finished in 6th place~ Mark Martin also won this race, again in the famed #60 Winn-Dixie Ford~ This was the final race for veteran BGN driver, Tom Peck~

    Shepherd ended his 1995 campaign with 7 starts, 1 top 5, and 2 top 10's, while leading a total of 23 laps, and finishing 45th in the final points standings~ His tenure with Cheerwine spanned 15 races during 2 seasons, with a total of 1 top 5, and 3 top 10's, with 28 laps lead, and an average finish of 21st~

                                                Morgan Shepherd #21 Cheerwine Ford~
Morgan Shepherd #21 Cheerwine Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast racing blog BGN Busch Age 2017
Click pics to enlarge~
Morgan Shepherd #21 Cheerwine Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast racing blog BGN Busch Age 2017

     If you can't tell what I did with this car, it's really a 1/24 scale bank~ I just shrank it down and made a custom card for it on Photoshop~ As far as I know, a 1/64 scale version of this car was never made, which is sad~ It's bad enough I couldn't even find a picture of the car on the track... we could have at least been given a 1/64 scale version.. that would be much better than a bank, in my opinion~ 

    I love the look of the car~ It kind of reminds me of the ol' Winston cigarettes car that Jimmy Spencer used to drive, though this car came before that one~ A simple red and white paint scheme, yet it's very eye catching~ I'm gonna give this car a B+ on the Racing Champions quality scale, with points taken off for it not being a real 1/64 scale car, and never coming with a card~ Other than that, I love this car, and the history behind it~ 

   The 2017 season is going to mark 50 years since Morgan's first NASCAR race, and I'm so thankful we've had him in our lives this long~ A lot of newcomers to the sport may be heard mocking him, but guys like Morgan are what the sport was all about, and I applaud him for still doing what he loves, at his age~ I've had a lot of friends that will never see the age of 50, yet Morgan Shepherd's been racing for that long.. that's an amazing accomplishment, that deserves more credit and attention that what is currently being given to the man~ 

   Thank you all for stopping by the blog again!~ I'm looking forward to the holidays, and starting a new year, and I hope you all are too~ The blog has grown a lot in 2016, and I'm very thankful for that~ I don't want these old drivers to fade away, and be forgotten about, and you've all proved to me that you don't want that either~ It's fun to look back at their careers, and rekindle the feelings we used to have for the sport we loved~ Below are some clips, including the 1994 Champion 300 crash Morgan was involved in, although I don't think they show his car~ It's the best I could do~ Please share this blog post on any social media sites that you are on~ :)

                  **Bonus car** Morgan Shepherd's 1982 #98 Levi Garrett Buick on a 1989 body~
Morgan Shepherd #98 Levi Garrett Buick Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog 1982 Cheerwine Age 2017

                                     1994 Champion 300 crash~ Morgan Shepherd involved~
                                                        1994 Purolator 500 finish~
                                                       Morgan Shepherd news piece~
     Auto Racing Crash-A-Rama Part 10~



  1. Racing Champions made a 1/64 version of Morgan's #21 Cheerwine car. The plastic box is labeled Promotional Car / Morgan Shepherd / Cheerwine Racing / Limited Edition 1 of 10,000.

  2. Thanks for the information, Earle!~ I'm gonna have to keep an eye out for that one~ I'm a big fan of Morgan's~