The Pontiac

The Superspeedway Car Jack DuBrul Introduced to Vermont

    New note as of February, 2008: New information coming from Mark Tucker, son of the late Royce Tucker, sheds some different light on "the Pontiac". There may have possibly been 2 Pontiacs. I will add in Tucker's information in red, and keep Hanaford's information in the original brown text color.

        In 1959, when the NASCAR big leagues were called Grand Nationals [and still pretty young], a Maryland driver named Elmo Langley was determined to field the most advantageous brand of American automobile he could to boost his somewhat under-budget racing effort. He chose the Pontiac, which was - at the time - some of the hottest iron in NASCAR. Pontiac was winning with people like Fireball Roberts, Joe Weatherly, and others; so, that's the car Langley bought to transform into a stock car. [In those days, stock cars were actually made from STOCK CARS]. What a concept !

Courtesy of Marty Little

                          Langley had the car ready to go for the season - opening Daytona 500.

Courtesy of Marty Little

Elmo and the crew pose with brass from the U.S. Air Force as they acquired an Air Force sponsorship for the 1960 season.

Pascal Magnum Website
Jean-Paul Cabana and the car at Daytona for the 1961 Permatex race.

Pascal Magnum Website
Jean-Paul Cabana and the car at Daytona for the 1961 Permatex race.

Courtesy of Marty Little

Jean-Paul Cabana leads a small pack of Sportsman cars during the Permatex race at Daytona.

    By 1961, Elmo Langley needed to update his ride, so the Pontiac was sold to a Canadian named Jean-Paul Cabana. Langley and his Southern pals may not have known Cabana, but J.P. was one of the best known drivers in Canada, already having finished high in the NASCAR National Sportsman points chase at least once. He ran the car in the Permatex race that year. After that, it is not clear what happened next. Some people have told me Cabana did not want to go through the formalities necessary to get the car back into Canada, where it could not really be used, so he sold it to someone in the Northern New England region.

    Meanwhile an aggressive young driver from the Greater Burlington, Vermont area - "Blackjack" DuBrul - was working with noted area car builder Royce Tucker to acquire a car worthy of running in the Permatex races in Florida. According to Mark Tucker, his father bought a 1959 Pontiac from the family that owned Welch's Grape Juice, brought it home, and had Tucker refurbish it.

Courtesy of Bob Novak
Jack DuBrul pauses in the pits at Thunder Road before taking the car for the crowd to see.

Courtesy of Cho Lee

The DuBrul Pontiac takes to the high banks of Thunder Road.

DuBrul repainted the car in his familiar black and copper color scheme and he ran the 1962 Permatex race and - according to Harold Hanaford - broke an axle after going quite well. Later that year, he proudly showed it off at his home track - Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, Vermont. I include here direct quotes from Tucker about his recollections of the Pontiac:

    "For sure though Jean-Paul never owned or drove the grand national car that Dad had that went to Daytona When Dad purchased the Welch car it was in really sweet shape and looked nothing like the Cabana car shown in one of your photo. Bill Wimble may have had some seat time in the car at Daytona that year also because I think Jack D realized he was in too deep...I did not go to Daytona that year but the car did indeed break


If it's the same grand national car that dad bought from the Welch's grape juice family (that went to Daytona), it was never owned or campaigned by Cabana, I can tell you that for certain.

     It is unclear whether or not DuBrul brought the car back to Daytona in 1963; what IS clear is that the car showed up at the obscure Otter Creek Speedway in the summer of 1963, in the hands of Williston, Vermont's Bob Pratt. Bob had left the color scheme, but he had changed the #11 to #44. The heavy old superspeedway car was too cumbersome and powerful for the dusty half mile and he spent most of his time on the track spinning the tires. I now believe Pratt had veteran Malletts Bay driver Gordie Owen driving the car that afternoon. According to Mark Tucker, a loyal crew member on a lot of Royce Tucker's cars was Jim "Sapphire" LeClaire, who may have accompanied Pratt to Vergennes. It is clear to me that there was a Pratt/Owen connection because Pratt later fielded a 1964 at Catamount and used Owen's son as driver.

Bill Ladabouche Photo

A probably disheartened Bob Pratt checks out his stiff-hitched Pontiac before towing it the half hour back up to Williston.

    We are now not sure whether we are talking about the DuBrul car, the Cabana car, or the same car. What happened to the DuBrul car the following year is not clear. It remained either in the hands of Pratt or DuBrul. Harold Hanaford, the man perhaps most knowledgeable on the car, thinks that a Montpelier man named Cody [probably the local Chevy dealer there] leased the car for Thunder Road star Ronnie Marvin, of Bethlehem, NH, to drive at Daytona in 1965. At some point later, it was purchased by a group from the Plymouth, New Hampshire area. I saw the car perform at Catamount Stadium in 1969, driven by former Thunder Road driver and former Jack Kochman's Hell Drivers performer Denny Dearborn. Again, the car was too heavy and too hard to handle. Dearborn was not particularly successful.

Catamount Program Photo
Dearborn steers the Pontiac past a spinning Larry Parsons.

Catamount Program Photo Courtesy of Rich Palmer
Dearborn spinning in front of a feaature field at Catamount.

    The Pontiac remained painted the unusual light purple color and retained the sponsorship of Mosely's Express, out of Plymouth, NH. Mr. Mosely was loyal benefactor to the efforts of many racers in his area. Dick Sherman bought the car for Harold Hanaford to driver at Daytona. He also drove the car with some success at a few NASCAR races and he won a race at Loudon, NH when the track was still a road course. The way Harold puts it, most of the cars in the field ended up breaking axles and trannies, but the Pontiac held together - so he won. After the Hanaford years, the car ended up behind some guy's barn until, regrettably, it was probably crushed - depriving several would-be restorers.

Courtesy of Marty Little
Hana, with the Pontiac at Daytona.

Courtesy of Rich Palmer
Ed Doggett, another recipient of Mosely support, also worked on the Pontiac for Hanaford.

Robert Dawes Photo

Hanford at speed on the old Loudon road course. Check out the neat Studebaker Lark.

Robert Dawes Photo

This slightly blurred photo shows Hanford at speed on the old Loudon road course. Note the yellow bumper ironically denoting the veteran as a rookie.

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