Friday, July 21, 2023

A little known Portland Fast Facts tidbit

Where A little country, And a Whole lotta Rock “N roll’s taken place…


This No Fenders story came Ah-Percolatin’ back upon Thy Memory-screen following the running of this year’s inaugural Portland E-Prix. Like Y’all heard about the just concluded Formula E race at Portland International Raceway, Righto?


And speaking ‘O firsts, get it? As in Portland’s first E-Prix…


Ironically, History was also reputedly made in what’s now my Home State Wayback’ in Y2k, aka 2000. Or perhaps more likely, lightning struck twice Wayback then at what’s forever been my IndyCar Home track


When reportedly for the First and only time in modern History. Two African American racers competed in the same race, according to one website on Ye All knowing Intrawoods’.


The event was the Line-X 225 Craftsman PickemUp’ Trucks race held on April 22, 2000 at Portland International Raceway. Where Bill Lester and Bobby Norfleet finished P24-32 respectively.


As I came across this bit of trivia when researching information for my story regarding how many African Americans have raced in NASCAR?


For which I came to the conclusion, albeit not corroborated. That this was actually the second time in modern history to occur.


The first being the 1971 Islit 250 Winston Cup race held in Islit, New York. Where  it appears that Wendell Scott and George Wiltshire competed. Which I scribbled about in the following No Fenders tome.


Bill Lester went onto start two NASCAR Nextel Cup races, and became the first African American to win a major Sports Car race, in what then was known as the Grand Am series.


Whilst I’d say that Bobby Norfleet is an unknown racing entity, since I’d never heard of Him before stumbling onto this bit ‘O trivia…


Norfleet apparently made waves when announcing He’d field His own race team in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck series Wayback’ in Double Ought’, ergo 2000, but didn’t have the requisite budget to do so. And with the help of Brian France, who reportedly even flew company executives to meet with Bobby. Funding from two record labels were secured.


Norfleet attempted making His Trucks debut at Martinsville that year, but failed to qualify. At the next event at Portland, Norfleet qualified by “Default”. One of 33 participants jockeying for 34 starting position. Even though Bobby was some 11mph Slower then the Pole sitter! Along with being Black flagged a ridiculous three times during the race for failing to maintain minimum speed, Yowza!


At the following Pikes Peak race, Norfleet’s entry was denied. With NASCAR claiming His license didn’t allow Him to compete on tracks One-mile in length or larger. Along with not having enough experience to race on these “larger” facilities. With Norfleet proclaiming His exclusion was racially motivated…


Then at the series next race, at Warshington’s Evergreen Speedway, Bobby failed to qualify again and decided to leave the Trucks series.


Whilst ironically, The Biffster’, aka Greg Biffle from Vancouver, WA was that year’s Craftsman Truck Champion for Roush Racing.


Norfleet returned to NASCAR briefly as a Car Owner in 2005. When His Bobby Norfleet Racing team entered a car for Mike Harmon at Memphis Motorsports Park, but failed to Qualify. With Norfleet proclaiming His team would contest both the Bush and Cup series the following year, but never appeared.


Norfleet’s daughter Tia attempted following in Her father’s footsteps, becoming NASCAR’s first African American female to hold a NASCAR racing license. But managed to only contest a single NASCAR Whelen All-American Series race before presumably, Her funding dried up…