The late country singer Marty Robbins, one of the most popular country artists of his era, had two great loves in his life, singing and racing. Many people don’t know that the singer who belted out hits like “A white sport coat and a pink carnation” and “El Paso”, was also a very avid race car driver in NASCAR.
Earning a gold record with “A white sport coat and a pink carnation” and a Grammy Award for the 1959 hit “El Paso”, Robbins earned enough to pursuit stock car racing in earnest. Combining the two loves did not seem difficult for the singer as he went on to be named as Artist of the Decade (1960-1969) by the Academy of Country Music and election into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1982. Robbins was also inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of fame in 1975 and earning a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame, giving proof that he was successful in one of his passions.
As a racecar driver, Robbins competed when he could between music tours, logging 35 career NASCAR starts in the organization’s top series. Robbins drove his way to six top ten finishes, including the Superbowl of NASCAR, the 1973 Daytona 500. Robbins combined his two loves in the film “Hell on Wheels” where he played himself.
Known as a MOPAR fanatic, Robbins owned and raced Dodge Chargers and a 1978 Dodge Magnum. However, his last NASCAR race was behind the wheel of a Junior Johnson built 1982 Buick Regal in November 1982, a month before the singer died. NASCAR honored the singer by naming the annual race at Nashville “The Marty Robbins 420.”
One of the most popular Marty Robbins racing stories takes place at the 1972 Talladega Superspeedway where he ran up front most of the race with laps that were 15 mph faster than he ran in qualifying. When NASCAR tried to award the singer with the Rookie of the Race award, Robbins turned it down explaining that he had knocked the NASCAR mandated restrictors out of his carburetor the evening before the race in his hotel room. Robbins admitted to being illegal and explained why he did it, “I just wanted to see what it was like to run up front for once.”
We happened to find a Marty Robbins Tribute car on display at the PRI tradeshow in Orlando Florida. The owner was no where in sight but a placard that was displayed near the car identified it as a 1964 Dodge model 330 two door sedan. Credit was given to Mark May of Edgewater, Florida, for building the car as close as possible to cars that Marty Robbins had driven.
The car features a 360 cubic inch MOPAR engine in a 1979 Boyce Trackbuster chassis, complete with a quick change rear end, a 750 Holley Carb and cutom made headers.
We enjoyed the retro look of the old NASCAR racers along with the signature Marty Robbins paint scheme. If you squint your eyes a little bit and glance at the car from the side…you can almost see Marty Robbins driving this car on the track at Nashville with Coo-Coo Marlin chasing him from behind.