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Gene Tapia
Born March 16, 1925
Hometown Mobile, Alabama
Died April 12, 2005
Cause of death Unknown
Awards Inducted in the Alabama Auto Racing Pioneers Hall of Fame (1999)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series statistics
4 races run over 2 years
Best cup position 134th - 1953 (Grand National)
First race 1951 Lakeview Speedway (Mobile, Alabama)
Last race 1953 Five Flags Speedway (Pensacola, Florida)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 0 0

Eugene "Gene" H. Tapia (March 16, 1925 – April 12, 2005) was an American race car driver from Mobile, Alabama.[1] He competed in four NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup Series) races,[1] but he is best known for racing in the #327 supermodified. He was nicknamed the "King of the Supermodifieds."

Contents

Early life

Tapia was born on March 16, 1925 to Ada and Homer Tapia.[2] In around 1934, he attended a dirt track race with his father.[2] He attended a thrill show with his uncle and his father started taking him to motorcycle races in the mid 1930s.[2]

Tapia got married, and at age 17 he left to work as a civilian on a military base in Alaska because he was involved in a street fight.[3 ] The county district attorney suggested that he should leave town to avoid prosecution.[3 ] He was wounded when the Japanese attacked Dutch Harbor in June 1942.[3 ] While he was gone, his wife gave birth to a boy named Larry Eugene Tapia in September 1942 at Memphis, Tennessee.[3 ] Before either parent was able to see the baby, he was stolen by Georgia Tann's baby theft ring that worked at the hospital.[3 ][4] He returned to Mobile and decided to enlist in the United States Marine Corps in June 1943.[3 ] He served with the Third Marine Division in Guadalcanal, the first-day invasion of Guam, and spent over 35 days on Iwo Jima.[3 ]

Racing career

In 1948, Tapia's began racing to get battle stress off his mind. That year, his car lost a wheel just after he crossed the finish line to win his first stock car race at Chisholm Fairgrounds in Montgomery, Alabama.[2] He raced in several NASCAR races that season. During his brief time spent racing in NASCAR, he won the Florida state title and the 1953 Mississippi state title.[4] He left the circuit because he wanted to race five nights per week instead of one night.[3 ] "Tapia was right up there with the best," said Donnie Allison. "He could have made it real good in NASCAR, if he had chosen. But I think his regard for his family and the desire to race more frequently is what kept him closer to home."[3 ]

Tapia won the 1968 and 1969 World 300 Supermodified race at Mobile International Speedway.[3 ] The event is billed as the "world's richest supermodified race".[3 ]

Later life

Tapia was able to meet his son in 1990. The 47-year-old, who was living in Missouri, was told that his parents had died in an automobile accident.[3 ] Tapia died in 2005 at the age of 80.[3 ]

Awards

He was inducted in the Alabama Auto Racing Pioneers Hall of Fame in 1999.[2]

Biography

  • The Gene Tapia Story: King of the Supermodifieds ISBN 9780972502306

References

  1. ^ a b "Gene Tapia driving statistics". Racing Reference. http://racing-reference.info/driver?id=tapiage01. Retrieved 2009-03-03.  
  2. ^ a b c d e Hodges, Gerald. "Racing Hall inducts Tapia". http://www.genetapiaracing.com/gene_tapia.htm. Retrieved 2009-03-03.  
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Gerald, Hodges (April 14, 2005). "Well-known local racer Gene Tapia dies at 80". Fatboysports. http://www.fatboysports.com/gene.htm. Retrieved 2009-03-05.  
  4. ^ a b Hodges, Gerald. "The Gene Tapia Story". http://www.genetapiaracing.com/gene_tapia_story.htm. Retrieved 2009-03-05.  
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