Tag Archives: Ned Jarrett

Ode to Fireball Roberts ’64

They gathered there at the Charlotte track,
The boldest drivers in the pack.
The men of nerve, the men of speed,
To see which one would take the lead.
And the boldest of them all
Was Fireball.

Racing Legends were there that May,
Men whose memory lives today.
Their valiant deeds we still recall,
Enshrined now in fame’s hallowed hall.
Most honored of all
Was Fireball.

There was Richard and David and Jimmy Purdue,
(What fate held for him he never knew),
And Buddy and Buck and Junior and Cale,
Men whose nerve would never fail.
And bravest of them all
Was Fireball.
 
Pardue’s Plymouth was the fastest ride.
He sat on the pole, with Lorenzen outside.
Lined up behind them, two by two,
Some of the greatest the sports ever knew.
And the greatest of all
Was Fireball.

The green flag dropped, they started to race
Through the high banks at a frantic pace.
Down the back straight, through turns three and four,
The grandstands shook to the engines roar.
In the midst of it all
Was Fireball.
 
Seven was the fateful lap, running at top speed,
Screaming down the back stretch, going for the lead.
Cars started spinning, sparks flew and flashed,
The blaze shot high as they madly crashed.
Flaming into the wall
Went Fireball.
 
Struggling out from his own burning ride,
Brave Ned Jarrett ran to his friends side.
Pulling him free, as the flames leaped higher,
Hearing his plea, “Help me, Ned, I’m on fire.”
That was the anguished call
Of Fireball.
 
Six thousand grew still as they learned
That Roberts was badly hurt and burned.
He was carried away to a healing place,
While forty men stayed to finish the race.
With thoughts that were all
Of Fireball.
 
His valiant spirit strove his body to mend
For forty long days, then it came to the end.
For muscle and bone just could not abide
The terrible hurt - it was his last ride
The last long haul
For Fireball.
 
But his deeds and triumphs stayed in the mind
Of friends and old rivals left there behind.
A host of brave men who still ran the track,
But sometimes their memories drifted back
In silent recall
To Fireball.
 
And memories of him still are alive
At those southern tracks where he used to drive.
With other men of nerve and speed
He raced into history, taking the lead.
The legend stands tall
...Fireball.
 
EPILOGUE – 1994
 
Now Davey and Alan and Neil and J.D.
Are together again, wherever they be.
Curtis and Tiny and the Meyers brothers,
Gone, all gone…and many others.
Now they are all
With Fireball.
 
This poem, The Ballad of Fireball written by Charlie Harville, appeared in the pages of 
Insider Racing News in May of 2003, in conjunction with the anniversary of the crash 
on May 24, 1964 at the World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. 
Fireball Roberts died on July 2, 1964 from injuries sustained on that fateful day.

E. Glenn “Fireball” Roberts was inducted with the class of 2014 
into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte NC.

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The poem, The Ballad of Fireball written by Charlie Harville, appeared in Insider Racing News, May 2003, found in Race Fans Forever website, blog Down Memory Lane – Fireball at www.racefansforever.org.

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