Born April 12, 1924 in Floyd County, Virginia
The Son of Morton and Minnie Turner
Died October 4, 1970 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
in an airplane crash
by Wayne Hawley
Call Him wild, crazy, businessman or the greatest driver ever and you would be right on all of them. This man was and is a true legend. Called the greatest driver ever by the late Bill France he never knew fear. In a career where he won 356 races of all types, he had to be good. He drove stock cars, convertibles and even an Indy car one time. He was good in all. He won 17 Winston Cup races, and 38 convertibles races. He ran and won the famous Pikes Peak climb. No one else has even come close to doing what he did. He is now in three halls of fame, The Hall Of Legends in Calif, The National Motorsports Hall of Fame in Darlington SC and of course The International Motorsports Hall of fame In Talladega.
Curtis could always find trouble also. He was suspended from NASCAR by his old friend and racing buddy, Bill France on 1961 for trying to get a drivers union. He felt the drivers should get more of the gate money and was willing to lay it on the line to get it. He also wanted life insurance for the drivers. It was the time while he was suspended that he won the Pikes Peak deal and also drove an Indy car built by Smokey Yunick. After Bill France heard that Curtis was working on starting his own racing circuit that he was allowed back into NASCAR. He had a rough start getting the respect of the news folk who were saying he was too old. He crashed out in his first two races back and broke some ribs. He was being called Pops Turner because of his age but it never bothered him. Then the Woods Bros. of Stuart Va. put Curtis in one of their fast Fords.
His first race in that car was the first race ever run at Rockingham. He was down two laps at one time but made it up. His broken ribs came through his skin and he was in terrible pain but in the end he won the first ever race at Rockingham. The next two behind him, Cale Yarborough and Richard Petty. Good company for a man that had done it all.
He did this at the unheard age of 41. In the old days, drivers usually quit by at least their mid 30's or before.
Curtis died doing something else he loved, flying. No one will ever know for sure what happened but I heard Curtis tell a bunch of his buddies one time he "lived fast, loved hard, and wanted to die young". Like everything else in his life, he got his way.