Spotlight: Curtis Turner

By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher

Curtis Turner is a former NASCAR driver. He passed away on Oct. 4, 1970 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

He passed away in an airplane crash. Besides Turner being onboard the plane, golfer Clarence King was on the plane at the time of the crash.

Stock Car racing
Stock Car racing (Photo by

Turner was reportedly the pilot of the Aero Commanders 500 when the accident happened. The crash happened shortly after the plane took off from Dubois-Jefferson Airport, as the two were traveling to Roanoke, Virginia.

He competed in 17-years in NASCAR, which is now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. He appeared in 184 races with 17 wins and 54 Top 5’s.

Turner had 16 poles in his career. His last pole came in the 1967 season.

He led 4,918 laps of 24,849 in his career. Turner averaged a 10th place start and finished around 16th. He earned $122,325.

Turner competed four seasons in the NASCAR Convertible Series. In addition, he competed in one race in the 1967 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.

He also competed in one race in in 1963 of the AAA/USAC Champ Car Series. He also had a DNQ in a race in the series in 1962.

The Floyd, Virginia native had many achievements in his career. He won the 1956 Southern 500. In addition, he was the inaugural winner of the American 500 in 1965 at Rockingham Speedway.

At one time in his career, he led the Grand National Series in wins. He also holds the record for the most wins in the NASCAR Convertible Series with 38.

In addition, Turner also has the record for the most poles with 23 in the NASCAR Convertible Division. In 1956, he had 22 wins in the NASCAR Convertible season, which is the most all-time in a season.

That same season, he had 16 poles, the most in the NASCAR Convertible Division for one season.

Turner was voted as the 1949 and 1956 Grand National Series Most Popular Driver. In 1998, he was named one of NASCAR’s Greatest Drivers.

In 1950, Turner was the only Grand National NASCAR driver to win the pole, then lead every lap of back-to-back races in Rochester, New York and Charlotte, North Carolina. He also won the NASCAR for Nash – Charlotte 150 on April 1, 1951.

His 1967 Daytona 500 car that was designed by Smokey Yunick inspired Talladega Nights character Reese Bobby. The car was reportedly banned by NASCAR.

Turner was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2016. He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1992.

Plus, he was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame America in 2006.

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