Marty Robbins - Music and Motorsports
Marty Robbins, was an American singer, songwriter, actor, multi-instrumentalist, and racing driver. One of the most popular and successful country and western singers of all time for most of his near four-decade career, Robbins often topped the country music charts, and several of his songs also had crossover success as pop hits.
His musical accomplishments include the Grammy Award for his 1959 hit and signature song "El Paso", taken from his album Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs. "El Paso" was his first song to hit No. 1 on the pop chart in the 1960s. It was followed up, successfully, by "Don't Worry", which reached No. 3 on the pop chart in 1961, becoming his third, and last, Top 10 pop hit. "El Paso" was followed by one prequel and one sequel: "Faleena From El Paso" and "El Paso City". Also in 1961, Robbins wrote the words and music and recorded "I Told the Brook," a ballad later recorded by Billy Thorpe.
He won the Grammy Award for the Best Country & Western Recording 1961 for his follow-up album More Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs, and was awarded the Grammy Award for Best Country Song in 1970, for "My Woman, My Woman, My Wife". Robbins was named Artist of the Decade (1960–1969) by the Academy of Country Music, was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1982, was rewarded three awards at the 17th Annual Music City News Country Awards in 1983, and was given a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1998 for his song "El Paso".
When Robbins was recording his 1961 hit "Don't Worry", session guitarist Grady Martin accidentally created the electric guitar "fuzz" effect – his six-string bass was run through a faulty channel in a mixing console. Robbins decided to keep it in the final version. The song reached No. 1 on the country chart, and No. 3 on the pop chart. Robbins was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1975. For his contribution to the recording industry, Robbins has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6666 Hollywood Boulevard.
Robbins loved NASCAR racing. With his musical successes, he was able to finance his avocation. Robbins always tried to run at the big race tracks (Talladega Superspeedway, Daytona International Speedway) every year and a smattering of the smaller races when time permitted.
Robbins' cars were built and maintained by Cotton Owens. They were painted two-toned magenta and chartreuse, usually carrying car number 42 (though 6, 22, and 777 were also used). Over the years, he ran a few makes and models (Plymouths, Dodges or Fords) before buying a 1972-bodied Dodge Charger from Owens. Robbins had 6 top-ten finishes as well as a few major wrecks during the 1970s, and he had Owens rebuilt the car to update the sheet metal to the 1973–1974 Charger specifications, and then finally 1978 Dodge Magnum sheet metal, which he raced until the end of 1980. Robbins' final NASCAR race car was a 1981 Buick Regal that he rented and drove in a few races in 1981 and 1982.
In 1972, at the Talladega 500, Robbins stunned the competition by turning laps that were 15 mph faster than his qualifying time. After the race, NASCAR tried to bestow the Rookie of the Race award, but he would not accept it. He had knocked the NASCAR-mandated restrictors out of his carburetor and admitted he "just wanted to see what it was like to run up front for once."
Robbins is credited with possibly saving Richard Childress' life at the 1974 Charlotte 500 by deliberately crashing into a wall rather than t-bone Childress's car that was stopped across the track.
In 1983, one year after Robbins' death, NASCAR honored him by naming the annual race at Fairgrounds Speedway the Marty Robbins 420.
Robbins' Dodge Magnum was restored by Owens and donated to the Talladega Museum by his family, and was displayed there from 1983 to 2008. The car is now in private hands in Southern California and raced on the Vintage NASCAR club circuit.
In 2014, Robbins' 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona was featured on an episode of Discovery Channels TV show Fat and Furious: Rolling Thunder.In that same year, an episode of Velocity's AmeriCarna featured ex-race team owner Ray Evernham spearheading the restoration of another of Robbins' NASCAR racers, a 1964 Plymouth Belvedere.
For the 2016 Darlington throwback weekend, Kyle Larson's No. 42 NASCAR Xfinity Series car was painted purple and gold in honor of Robbins.
At the end of last week, we had the honor of getting to photograph his legendary $42 Dodge Daytona just before the Aero Warriors Reunion at Wellborne Muscle Car Museum in Alexander City, AL just before heading off to Talladega Superspeedway.