This rare Mercury still spreads the NASCAR gospel
In the summer of 1969, when I was 8 years old, my dad took me to Indianapolis for the time trials and the race. Watching the bright red #6 car of fellow Texan A.J. Foyt take the pole at 170.568 mph was the most incredible thing I had ever seen—or heard. Sometime around then, I also learned about NASCAR, which was described to me as “real racing.” Foyt and Cale Yarborough became my heroes.
In 2000—many races, a marriage, two sons, and half a career later—we were living in Pensacola, Florida, deep in the heart of NASCAR country. Watching races with my sons gave me great flashbacks to my youth. I had a nice boat but no money to spare, so dreams of a fun car were just that—dreams. Then we moved back to Texas, without the boat, and I realized it was finally time for that weekend ice-cream-getter.
One day, I read about the Aero Warrior Reunion at Talladega, with all those glorious Superbirds, Daytonas, Talladegas, and Cyclone Spoilers, and I knew immediately what I wanted. The days of cheap Mopars were long gone, so I set my sights on Fords and Mercurys, which were all one-year-only models to meet NASCAR’s homologation rule. There aren’t many out there, and they didn’t often come up for sale. I wanted a big-block and my wife insisted on A/C, so that narrowed our choices to the Cale Yarborough and Dan Gurney Cyclone Spoilers.
I searched for the next few years without much luck. Then I joined the Daytona-Superbird Auto Club (DSAC). I placed an ad in the newsletter, and a few weeks later, I was getting calls from club members around the country, all willing to help. Finally, in 2007, I found a three-owner, 390-cubic-inch, W-nose Cale Yarborough Special with dealer-installed A/C and 72,000 miles. Thanks again to the DSAC, I was able to locate the second owner, a well-known Ford Aero Car collector, and verify the Mercury’s originality. After a few weeks of research and emails and phone calls with the third owner, I was on a flight to St. Louis with a cashier’s check in hand.
The car ran great and made the drive home to Texas without issue. I quickly learned what it means to own a car like this: the thumbs-up and honks on the road, the extra time needed at the gas station to explain its reason for existing—win on Sunday, sell on Monday.
I have since attended dozens of events, won numerous trophies, and taken part in the 2009 and 2019 Talladega Aero Warriors Reunions with my son, father, best friend, and brother-in-law. My father recently said, “In the end, it’s all about family and memories, and we’re lucky to have both.” So true!