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The Doctor Is In...The Driver's Seat!

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Don Tarr

The Doctor Is In...The Driver's Seat!

Jeremy T. Sellers
Jerm's Joint
November 18, 2009


His statistics aren't what a racing fan would consider stellar, and his time in the cup series was short compared to today's standards. However, Don Tarr is perhaps one of the most unique individuals to grace the pavement in NASCAR's premier series. Born May 4th, 1929, hailing from the Miami Beach area, he only competed 48 times over a five year span from 1967 to 1971. However, out of these few events came some relatively impressive accomplishments.

Pairing with legendary crew chief and car owner, Ray Fox in 1967, Don set the speed record for qualifying a Dodge Charger at 187.912 mph at the new Alabama International Speedway in 1969. This is what we now know as Talladega! Ever wonder when the "in-car" broadcasts began? Well, at the Firecracker 400 on July 4, 1970, Tarr pioneered this concept on ABC's Wide World of Sports communicating with commentators Jim McKay and Chris Economaki. By the way, he finished 6th! Also, Don was the first active driver to serve as a commentator from the pit area from Nashville Speedway on ABC in 1970. Though he only compiled nine top ten finishes in his career at tracks such as Daytona, Charlotte, Michigan, Darlington, Atlanta, and Talladega, it was what he did off the track that perhaps made him most diverse to the sport of stock car auto racing.

Long before Dr. Jerry Punch took to the microphone for ESPN, Dr. Don Tarr, MD was sailing around superspeedways to earn the title of "World's Fastest Physician". Now 80 years young, he looks as suave now as he did then, and still manages to see approximately 100 patients a week in his Mountain City, TN medical practice near Bristol. A far cry from his Miami, Florida area up-bringing, but hardly ironic in his final destination. There is your short legends diddy for the week!

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