Friday, February 18, 2011
Johnson won $19,600 -- around $140,000 in today's dollars -- driving this Chevy an average speed of about 125 miles per hour. Last year's winner also drove a Chevy, and only 12 miles per hour faster than Johnson fifty years before. But Jamie McMurray won more than $1.5 million, or more than 10x Junior Johnson's inflation-adjusted winnings.
The world is bigger and richer now, and if you are at the top you get paid more. The same goes for baseball players, rock stars, and CEOs.
This is the more impressive because the car has horizontal tailfins that act as antispoilers. When we both (car and I) were young, I drove one of these a little more than 100. At that speed it went into ship-of-the-desert mode, floating and drifting around the road and crossing the yellow. I think it amazing he could keep it aligned on the straights, much less corner it.
FYI, That particular car is parked in the lobby of the Sunshine Mall in South Daytona in front of the Living Legends Museum, a storefront filled with racing memorabilia. The car is a replica of the original No. 27 Chevy. The owner's name, Don Ruhff, is not the originial owner of the race car but the owner of the replica. He's entitled to add his name, but it kind of spoils the authenticity. Ray Fox, legendary engine builder and crew chief of the 27 car, volunteers at the museum on Thursdays. Ray recently celebrated his 95th birthday.