How Jimmy Hoffa tried to give unions the green flag at NASCAR

Posted: July 12, 2014
Source: Teamster Nation
James R. HoffaLegendary NASCAR driver Richard Petty and former Teamsters General President James R. Hoffa are two people you would likely never mention in the same sentence. But they have one of the most unique and interesting connections in the history of labor in sports: they both attempted to unionize NASCAR drivers.

In 1961, Jimmy Hoffa tried to change the playing field for NASCAR drivers. He and two drivers, Curtis Turner and Tim Flock, tried to create the Federation of Professional Athletes, which would represent racers. NASCAR founder Bill France threatened to use violence against any kind of unionization. According to Fox Sports,

The Teamsters offered loans to save Charlotte Motor Speedway, which was on the verge of failure because of massive cost overruns incurred in building the track.

The drivers were offered benefit plans including pensions, insurance and scholarships for the children of drivers who died in crashes.

While some drivers initially expressed interest in the union, prior to a race at Bowman-Gray Stadium in North Carolina, France laid down the law prohibiting any union members from ever participating in NASCAR events. According to accounts of the day, France told the racers, “I’ll use a pistol to enforce it. I have a pistol and know how to use it.”

France banned Turner and Flock for life. Both were later reinstated, though Flock never won another race after his ban.
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