1961 Curtis Turner ousted at CMS
EXHAUST FUMES Something 'Big' Wos In The Air By Bob Hoffman Something big was in the Charlotte air just prior to the World 600. At that time, no one knew just how big it would be. A day before the race, it was revealed that there was no Charlotte Motor Speedway stock to be had at the asking price of $2 per share. This was most nnusnal, especially in view of the fact that the Speedway was facing a long line of financial troubles in the form of suits and liens. Most stockholders, it would seem, •would be more than happy to get oat from under. However, this was not the case. • • * THE UPSHOT of the situation was that Curtis Turner and Bruton Smith, the two top men at the Queen City track, both resigned under heavy pressure last week. Applying the pressure was James Mcllvaine of Alexandria, Va.. who held a $235,000 second mortgage on the track. Mcll- vaine is one of the major stockholders in the track and had put np money In the past to get the Speedway off the hook in a couple of emergency situations. Mcllvaine demanded either his money or the resignations of Turner and Smith. He got the resignations. • * • JUST PRIOR to the World 600, it was announced that Duke Ellington had been hired as business manager of the track. The Inside word was that no checks would be written without the signature of Ellington. This was a change from the past routine, which had seen large and then larger checks drawn on the Speedway account. Some say this was the primary reason behind the financial difficulties of the track. With no one to hold a whip hand on the spending, it had gotten out of hand, the reports said. • * * THIS LATEST uproar is just one of several that have plagued the track since the birth o! the speed plant. It all started when Turner and then Smith announced plans to build identical tracks in the Charlotte area. Angry words passed and then it all blew over when the two men said they were combining forces for one major track. Financial and weather setbacks stalked the early days of the track—even to the extent that the first World 600 race had to be postponed for three weeks awaiting completion of the oval. Then came a long list of law suits from creditors, who had worked on the track nnd wanted to be paid for their labor. Later, the Ellington move looked as though the stockholders were willing to go along with the existing management with only a few minor changes. Then came the bombshell in the resignations of Turner and Smith. THE NEXT chapter in the stormy history of the track is yet to be written, but you can almost bet it'll be a stormy on«. Turner, who has the respect and admiration of almost everyone connected with the stock car racing bniinesi, is going to return to his lumber business. Smith has been hired to head up the promotions department of the track. It's almost a rags-to-riches-tc-rags story for Turner. He has Invested a lot of his own money and even more of his time in the project, yet all he hears is the door slam behind him. Without the name of Turner connected with the track, one can't help but wonder what kind of success the venture will have. Last year during the first World 600, a carload of Virginia race fans pulled up to a policeman on the square in Charlotte. The driver asked, "Which way do I go to get to Curtis' race track?" In his mind, no such thing as the Charlotte Speedway existed. Wonder how many more feel tho same way?