NASCAR's oldest driver resides in southern Arizona
TUCSON - Racing wasn't always in Hershel McGriff's blood.
"I saw an ad in the paper they were going to have a race out at the track," McGriff recalls. "I had never seen a stock car race because they didn't have any."
But he was hooked from the opening lap of his first start.
"I borrowed my dads car and ran in a 250 lap race on dirt," he said. "September 16, 1945."
A then-17-year-old McGriff finished somewhere around 12th at the Portland Speedway that day. He most recently returned in 2009, becoming the oldest driver to compete in a NASCAR sanctioned event.
"I had won the last race they had there in 1986, so I was the defending champion more or less with all them young kids," McGriff chuckled. "I had a lot of fun. I think I finished in the middle of the field."
Over the course of a near-70 year racing career, one that began before NASCAR was created, McGriff has landed in the likes of the Arizona and Oregon sports halls of fame, he was named one of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers and this year was nominated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The thought of retirement has yet to cross his mind.
"I've always thought, I'm 87 now, when I'm 90, if I feel as good as I do now I might take another whirl at it. Who knows," he said.
For now the the keys to these are on the shelf while, like the rest of us, Hershel McGriff abides by the speed limit...most of the time.