McAnally-Hilgemann Racing is turning back the clock to 1950 and 1999 for next week’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at Darlington Raceway for Throwback Weekend. Christian Eckes’ No. 19 Gates Hydraulics Chevrolet will run a tribute scheme to honor Hershel McGriff on his recent induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which harkens back to the inaugural Southern 500 in 1950. Jake Garcia’s first trip to “The Lady in Black” will be highlighted by a throwback scheme to fellow Georgian and family friend Buckshot Jones and his 1999 Crown Fiber Pontiac that he drove in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.
Eckes’ No. 19 Gates Hydraulics Chevrolet Silverado RST will carry a color scheme replicating the No. 52 that McGriff drove in the inaugural Southern 500 in September 1950. McGriff, an Oregon native, drove his Oldsmobile 88 coupe cross country from Oregon to NASCAR’s first superspeedway to finish ninth in the first NASCAR Cup Series event at the track “Too Tough to Tame.” Prior to his cross-country journey in September of ’50, McGriff drove the same Oldsmobile in the inaugural Carrera Panamericana, a 2,178-mile road race on a newly built highway in Mexico, and won.
McGriff was one of the most accomplished drivers to hail from the west coast and won four NASCAR Cup Series races in 1954. He made 85 starts in the Cup Series over 28 different seasons. Some of his greatest accomplishments came in the NASCAR Winston West Series, now ARCA Menards Series West, where he won 37 races, spanning over 35 years, and won the 1986 championship. The final full-time season of his career came in 2001 when he drove for MHR team owner Bill McAnally in Winston West competition and earned five top-10 finishes. McGriff’s final start came in 2018 at age 90 driving his signature No. 04 for McAnally at Tucson Raceway.
Garcia’s No. 35 Chevrolet will carry some personal significance by running Jones’ Crown Fiber silver color scheme, reminiscent of the Georgia driver’s 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix. Jones won two NASCAR Xfinity Series races in 147 starts, started 56 NASCAR Cup Series races, and was an instrumental figure in Garcia’s career from a young age.
As a close friend of Garcia’s father, Stevie, Jones helped guide Garcia to quarter midget racing, rather than go-karts, early in his career. As Garcia climbed the ranks, Jones was present for many races throughout his development, which included Garcia racing with and against Jones’ youngest son. Next week at Darlington, Garcia will repay the favor by resurrecting Jones’ familiar Crown Fiber color scheme that adorned his unmistakable No. 00 in the late 1990’s.
Both schemes will take to “The Lady in Black” on Friday night, May 12th as Eckes, Garcia, and the rest of the NCTS competitors kick off the ninth NASCAR Throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway.