226.  The Flock Brothers

Carl, Bob, and Truman Fontello (“Fonty”) Flock all drove whiskey for their uncle, Peachtree Williams, in Atlanta.  Carl took over the whiskey business when Williams was killed in a suspicious automobile accident, in which his chauffeur was unhurt, and Williams’ jewelry and usually ample pocket money was missing.  Police didn’t bother to investigate much.

Williams’ cars were maintained by local mechanic Red Vogt.  In 1934, Bob and Fonty joined another two dozen whiskey trippers in a cow pasture outside Stockbridge GA for a test of speed in front of three hundred spectators, including their little brother, Julius Timothy “Tim” Flock.  It would be a dozen years before Tim ran a NASCAR race, but all the Flocks had a heavy right foot.  For some years, Fonty performed under the alias, “Wild Bill Dawson,” a reference to his Dawsonville roots.

                        Fonty & Red Vogt     Fonty and Vogt

In 1947, Fonty raced for mechanic Bob Osiecki, Vogt’s chief competition.  The resulting rivalry with Red Byron provided publicity that contributed to NASCAR’s early popularity. 

In early Southern dirt track racing, drivers often got their bells rung.  Most concussions were undocumented, but the resulting lack of judgment often led to serious injuries.  In the Mobile AL race on 25 November 1951, Bob Flock flipped and track workers extracted him from the car.  He traveled to Pensacola FL, before he finally saw a doctor complaining of pain.  The sawbones told him he’d broken a few ribs.  When the pain didn’t subside, a week later, Bob saw another doctor, who informed him that he’d broken his neck.  Ten months later, Bob returned to the track at Asheville NC, and won.  He ran only eight more Grand National events, but the “guts” to compete with a broken neck, or a battered brain, made the Flocks crowd favorites.

 Fonty, Snowden and Bob Flock 47Fonty, Snowden and Bob Flock

Bob Flock also shoed Red Vogt’s entry in the NASCAR roadster division.  On 27 February 1949, he beat Jim Rathmann, Ray Erickson, and several Indy drivers in Vogt’s red and white #14 that sat a foot higher than the streamlined Indy cars.

Fonty ran modified Fords successfully before the war.  In 1941, Fonty and Rapid Roy Hall dueled in Daytona’s south turn.  Fonty had an extended hospital stay after track workers extracted him from the flipped car with the crunched roof.  A broken pelvis, several broken ribs, and back injuries delayed Fonty’s return to the track for six years.  Fonty won the Modified Championship in ’47 and ’49.  Then, he raced for nine more seasons, recording nineteen wins, finishing the stock car championship in the top five four times, but never winning the title.

                              Tim & Maudie    Tim and Maudie

Curtis Turner edged Fonty in a race at Winston Salem and declared himself the “best driver in the world.  Fonty exploded.  “The guy wins one race and starts blowing his horn…  Not only have I beaten him three out of four.  My whole family has beaten him seven out of eight.”

Lee Flock’s daredevil tendencies weren’t just passed on to Bob, Fonty and Tim.  Carl raced speedboats.  Reo, the daughter named for Ransom Eli Olds, jumped from airplanes for $50 a pop.  On 10 July, 1949, Ethel Flock Mobley started at Daytona and beat her brothers, Bob and Fonty, to the line.  Every time she saw them, after that, she reminded her brothers that they got beat by a girl.  She also finished ahead of Herb Thomas, Marshall Teague, Buck Baker and Curtis Turner, but there’s no record that she ever chided them.  Ethel, incidentally, was named for high-test gasoline.

                Charles and Ethel Flock Mobley    Charlie and Ethel Flock Mobley

As in the previous season, the 1952 Grand National Championship came down to a duel between the Flocks and Herb Thomas.  On 30 September, at Raleigh Speedway, Fonty took the win, followed by Herb, Tim Flock, and Donald Thomas, Herb’s brother.  Two pairs of brothers finishing in the top four demonstrates that early stock car racing was often a family sport.

In ‘52, Tim Flock won his first Championship, followed by Thomas, Lee Petty, Fonty, west-coast sprint car driver Dick Rathmann, and Carolina’s Bill Blair.  Teague won Daytona and Jacksonville, but entered only four races, and didn’t figure in the championship.  Fonty took Darlington, but with two wins, couldn’t pace brother Tim’s eight victories.