Bud and Bob Burdick
Thanks to Bobby parker, I had the pleasure of meeting Bud Burdick at a local club in Omaha. I tried to keep up with Bud for a while drinking beer, but realized I couldn't. He is truly a treasure. He has so many racing stories to share and very clear memories of the good old days. Bud and his nephew Bob were incredibly talented drivers. Bud's brother Roy was a talented car builder. They took their show to a national audience when they raced in NASCAR.
Bud won Playland track championships in 1953, 55, 58, 59 and 61. That takes some driving skill!!
The articles above are the Nebraska Racing Hall of Fame writeups for Bud and Bob Burdick. Click them to make them full size.
From Dr. Walter Warpeha:
Just to let you know I built a steet legal Roy Burdick Daytona winner replica. I'm not sure if the orginal was ever trial run at playland but I believe the only three drivers of this Nascar did: John Beauchamp, Bob and Bud Burdick.
would like to hear if you have local history on this car other than
what I got from the Burdick family.They saw the car in the beginning of June
Dr. Walter Warpeha
3 Jul 2003
Thunderbirds driving fast and turning left
by Wally Warpeha
( written for the Midwest Thunderbird Club Newsletter)
Conventional wisdom says that modern American automobile development comes out of Detroit and Stock Car racing comes from the Deep South. Yet Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota all had part of the revolution where auto racing became linked to new car sales and auto advancement was driven by racing success. What’s more, some special Thunderbirds played a pivotal role!
An important part of this connection started at the Minnesota Fairgrounds dirt track in 1956. Richard (son of television pioneer Stanley E.) Hubbard approached the Burdick Garage Racing Team that had just drove up from Omaha and were sitting in the shade of some trees waiting to get into the grandstand and unload. Mr. Hubbard had felt that this unique “Late Model” racing where every American family came with built in brand loyalty had a bright future. He convinced his father to televise live that Labor Day race, which is thought to be the first Stock Car event so covered in the world. KSTP was starting a relationship with the Burdick's that would end up halfway across the country.
Racing that year for Roy Burdick was his 19-year-old son, Bob, and Roy’s brother Bud. Dale Swanson owned a second Omaha area team with his driver John Beauchamp (Bow-camp) both of them from nearby Harlan, Iowa. Along with a fourth driver, Marvin Panch, these men won nearly all the Late Model races held that year at the Fair. One more figure is the announcer at the Grandstand, himself a racer and a radio and TV personality, Bob Potter. Soon each of these seven men and a TV station would run cars in the revolutionary high banked Daytona, Florida track which started the factory assisted “Super Speedway Boom” and ushered NASCAR into a multi-million dollar sport.
Not that this successor to Moonshine running and Jalopy racing ever had full technological and financial support of the car manufacturers. A terrible accident in1957 where spectators were killed forced the carmakers to distance themselves. As fate would have it long time Ford racing team members, John Holman and Ralph Moody, would buy out Ford’s racing parts. Using their former connections they gained a backdoor access to Ford’s plants and were able to get salvage parts that they assembled into the first turnkey “factory racecars.” The T-Bird Power Products cars with the Lincoln 430ci engine were guaranteed to go an unheard of 150mph. One was sold to the Burdick’s for $5500 and Roy and Bud (Bob wouldn’t get out of the military until May) with John Beauchamp as driver and Dale Swanson as mechanic all packed for Florida.
History was made in February 1959 with the opening of the fastest racetrack in the world...the Daytona Super Speedway. Nobody beforehand knew just how fast. In the first 10 years of NASCAR, average winning speeds went from 70 mph to just over 100 mph. Incredibly, and to the tire companies dismay, qualifying speeds only one year later were up to 140+ mph! Seven 1959 Thunderbirds were entered under a special exemption including five that were Holman Moody prepared.
The race had received a great deal of hype in the weeks leading up to it; even Walter Cronkite came to cover it. Any spectator could see every part of the 2.5-mile Tri-oval track (almost twice as long as any other track raced on to that time) from any seat in the grandstand. The question was whether the cars, back when “stock cars" really meant stock, could maintain that kind of speed for 500 miles. Someone said that the abuse these racecars took was like letting your teenager put an anything but gentle 50,000 miles on the family car some Sunday afternoon!
And most cars didn’t finish. Engines were blown, tires came apart, or the transmissions or clutches failed. Only 25 of 59 cars (5 of 7 T-Birds!) that started were running at the checkered flag. As the number of racecars dwindled, the pace continued at record speeds. Dramatically two cars piloted by Lee Petty #43 (Richard’s dad) in an Oldsmobile and Johnny Beauchamp #73 in the Roy Burdick H&M T-Bird circled the course neck and neck. The lead changing hands 11 times in the last 50 laps.
The finish could not have been better scripted in Hollywood. Petty and Beauchamp’s cars crossed the finish in a dead heat with a third car, which was 2 laps down. Photo finishes are common in horse racing where 45mph is the top speed. It hadn’t occurred to anyone that after 500 grueling miles there would be a need to determine who crossed the line first at 150mph! Beauchamp and his T-Bird was called the winner and got to kiss the pretty girl. Yet Lee Petty is noted as the NASCAR’s greatest at disputing race results. He even once had a race overturned taking the victory from his son!
After three days and reviewing news film, the decision was reversed and given to the “Southern Good Ole Boy” over the “Farmers from Nebraska.” This inaugural race goes down as one of NASCAR’s most controversial. Many thought Petty was also one lap behind but Mrs. Petty happened to be the lap judge and said no. Beauchamp was given 2nd place, Pauch, 17th and Potter 53rd. Later that year Bob Burdick nearly took # 73 to the winners circle finishing 2nd in the Daytona 250 mile Fourth of July race.
The next year Bud and Bob Burdick, John Beauchamp, Marvin Pauch and Bob Potter once again ran at Daytona. Bud finished in the 100mile -9th, in the 500mile-11th, in the same white #73 Thunderbird with sponsor KSTP-TV painted on the rear quarters in big letters. Meanwhile Thunderbird sales rocketed, Ford was back in racing and NASCAR was firmly seated as an American sport.
Forty years later you might think it would be difficult to talk to anyone who was actually there. Stanley E. Hubbard, Roy Burdick, Marvin Panch and John Beauchamp have passed away. Omaha resident Bud Burdick is over 80 and tells me he doesn’t remember much but then we talked for 40 minutes. Yet Bob Burdick (of Oklahoma) is younger as is the son of Beauchamp’s mechanic, Dale Swanson Jr. (of Harlan, Iowa). Bob Potter, the racer /announcer, has good memories along with a great voice and lives in Plymouth. Another source was the MN Fairground’s flagman Jake Borzoni who lives in Fridley. His modified car is still enshrined in his garage. Only after talking to all these people could I tell this story and recognize the significance of its part in auto history.
Only one of the Holman/Moody 8 T-Birds still exists. It used to be kept in a now closed down Daytona Museum. Kruse and ebay tried to sell it and a $30,000 bid did not reach the reserve. Obviously they think that even one that did not win races like #73 is quite valuable.
#73 stats: 3 top 5 & 9 top 11 finishes in 12 starts, 2 pole, 2 share pole. All time fastest qualifying time as a NASCAR (zipper top) convertible. Thought to be the most successful of that 1st batch of Homan/Moody cars. Ran ’59 and beginning of the’60 season without mechanical failure, on the original engine!