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Cassville racer to be inducted into halls of fame

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hall of fame inductee Cassville resident Freddy Fryar served as an instructor for Richard Petty's driving school for several years. Fryar, who is pictured above with students from one of his classes, will be inducted into the Alabama Auto Racing Pioneers Hall of Fame on Dec. 7.
Cassville resident and auto racing pioneer Freddy Fryar will be inducted into the Alabama Auto Racing Pioneers Hall of Fame on Dec. 7 and the Ozarks Auto Racing Hall of Fame on Jan. 5, 2013.

"All of your friends and competitors who you raced against all your life vote you into the hall of fame," said Fryar. "It is really an honor to be voted in."

Fryar's auto racing career began in the early 1950s when he followed in the footsteps of his older brother, Harold. Auto racing was a fledgling sport at that time.

"I was 14 years old when I started," said Fryar. "My dad had taken us to the races as little kids. He loved to go watch them race."

Fryar first raced on dirt in a 1935 Plymouth Coupe in the city in which he was born, Chattanooga, Tenn. The vehicle was an old stock car equipped with a roll bar.

The biggest part of Fryar's career was spent on paved asphalt tracks around the south. He attributes much of his racing success to Harold, who died while racing a one-half mile dirt track in 1971.

Although Fryar's mother asked him to quit racing after the death of his brother, Fryar was making his living in the auto industry by that time.

During his career, Fryar racked up seven NASCAR Series Track Championships and three state championships in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. He earned the NASCAR Sportsman, Busch Grand, championships in 1967 and 1969.

Fryar was named All Pro Series champion in 1983 and All Pro Truck champion, which is now known as Craftsman Truck, in 1984. He was also second in points to winner Bobby Allison in the 1964 NASCAR modified championship.

Out of all of his accomplishments, Fryar is most proud of the Most Popular Driver Award he received from NASCAR in 1968 and the Permatech Racing Award he received in 1967.

In total, Fryar won 826 main events in feature racing.

"I won a lot of races," said Fryar. "I didn't win them all, but I won my fair share plus."

During the height of his racing career, Fryar spent a lot of time in Louisiana and Alabama. He earned the nicknames "The Beaumont Flyer" and "Bayou Bandit." At that time, he also had the opportunity to provide driving services for several actors filming in Louisiana.

"I was Lynn Redgrave's personal driver," said Fryar. "I also had the opportunity to drive Lee Meriwether. She was one of the nicest people I have ever met."

An employment opportunity even gave Fryar the opportunity to sit at a table with John Wayne, Rock Hudson and other actors who were filming the movie "The Undefeated."

Fryar retired from auto racing in 1987. The following year, he took a job with NASCAR Piedmont Airlines Racing Team to work on two programs with Sterling Marlin.

Fryar raced for 37 years, making a living in the industry for 25 years. He then worked for NASCAR teams for an additional 15 years. He also served as a driving instructor for Richard Petty's driving school for several years.

While running a race team and working as crew chief for Clifford Allison, Bobby's son, Fryar met his wife, Georgia. The couple later settled in Cassville.

"I've lived here for almost 12 years, and I love this area," said Fryar.

Fryar's wife will accompany him to Talladega, Ala., for the formal induction ceremony in December. Larry McReynolds will serve as master of ceremonies for the event.

"I will get to see a lot of people who I haven't seen in a while," said Fryar.

The couple will also attend the Ozarks Auto Racing Hall of Fame luncheon and induction ceremony with members of their family.

"I loved racing," said Fryar. "It was the competition. There is nothing like winning."

Fryar has two sons, Mark and Clint, who works for Bill Davis Racing in North Carolina and has worked for NASCAR teams for 15 years.

Fryar's grandson, Jared, raced quarter midgets and legends, and is now racing late models. His granddaughter, Candice, is a senior at the University of North Carolina, majoring in sports marketing, and works part-time at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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I have known Freddy Fryar for about 40 years, and worked closely with him on some of the race cars he drove for seven or eight years. As a stock car race driver, there was never anyone any better, anywhere. He could always get the most out of whatever car he drove without abusing the car itself. He respected the expense that it took to field a competitive race car, and all the hard work that goes into putting that car on the track for each race. Freddy drove countless races in my dad's cars, and not once did I ever see him "run out of brains" when he was driving. He was a fierce competitor who wanted to win any event he entered; no matter the significance or insignificance of the event.

Freddy rarely was involved in any wrecks. When he was, it was usually because of something somebody else on the track did, or circumstances beyond his control. He was a gentleman on the track who never drove dirty, and drove clean and fair against all competitors. Freddy was, and still is a true wizard at setting up a chassis and getting the race car to handle really well. When he went to a track, he would have a particular chassis set up that he wanted to start with, then he and the crew would work extremely hard at tweaking that set up to gain every 1/100th of a second that could be gotten. He worked hard, and if you were on the pit crew, you had better be ready to work hard too. Until that car was handling at the level of perfection he was looking for, it was hard work, blood, sweat, and tears.

While Freddy enjoyed working for some prestigious and big time organizations after his driving days were over, it is an awful shame that he was never able to land a big time ride in NASCAR in the years when it was really coming into it's own. Freddy raced against the likes of Bobby and Donnie Allison, Darrell Waltrip, Red Farmer, Terry LaBonte, Dale Earnhardt at times, and just about anybody else who was anybody back in that day, and regularly outran all of them on the short tracks where he raced. There is no doubt in my mind he could have been one of NASCAR'S all time biggest stars had the right breaks with the right people come his way.

As a person, Freddy would help anybody at the racetrack; even if you were his fiercest competitor. He would give advice if called upon to do so, loan parts, and was usually welcome at anybody else's race shop anywhere he went while on the road.

-- Posted by anthonyjfasulo on Sun, Mar 29, 2015, at 7:45 PM

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