(born December 30
in Elmhurst, Illinois
), is a former NASCAR
driver. He first caught the car bug young, and had built his first car at the age of 13. After graduating from high school, he began racing modifieds and late models, and made his NASCAR debut in 1956 at Langhorne Speedway
, finishing 26th after suffering a broken fuel pump, winning $25. He moved to USAC
stock car, and won the 1958 and 1959 championship. He returned to NASCAR and won 26 races and 32 poles, before announcing his surprise retirement in 1967. From 1961 until 1967 Lorenzen drove the famous White and Blue #28 Ford for Holman and Moody. Under the guidance of legendary team co-owner Ralph Moody, Lorenzen became one of NASCAR's all-time best drivers. In 1963 he became the first driver in racing to earn over $100,000 in a single season. The highlight of his career was winning the 1965 Daytona 500. He came back in 1970, driving a Dodge Daytona prepared by Ray Fox in the World 600, (now the Coca-Cola 600), running in a few more events that year, including substituting for LeeRoy Yarbrough in the Junior Johnson #98 Ford Talladega in that year's Southern 500, as Yarbrough had a prior Indy car commitment. In 1971 he moved over to the Ray Nichels/Paul Goldsmith owned #99 Plymouth, sponsored by STP. He left that team part way through the season, & was badly injured in a practice crash while trying to drive for the Wood Bothers prior to the Southern 500. In 1972 he hooked up with Hoss Ellington driving a Chevrolet Monte Carlo, to little success. His last start came at the 1972 Old Dominion 500
at Martinsville Speedway
. Fred was nicknamed "The Golden Boy"
, "Fast Freddie"
and "Flyin Freddy"
The Yellow Banana
In one race in 1966 at Atlanta Motor Speedway he drove a Junior Johnson-owned #26 Ford due to the Ford boycott of NASCAR for much of the 1966 season, and it is still one of the most talked about vehicles in NASCAR Grand National Competition to this day. The front end of the car was sloped downward, the roofline was lowered, the side windows were narrowed and the windshield was lowered in an aerodynamic position, and the tail was kicked up. Several rival drivers referred to it as "The Yellow Banana," "Junior's Joke," and "The Magnafluxed Monster." Even though it was against the rules NASCAR allowed the car to compete and Lorenzen crashed while leading the Dixie 500 on the 139th lap. One pit crew member said after the incident "No wonder" he said, "I ain't never seen anybody who could drive a banana at 150 mile an hour." NASCAR let this very illegal car run in only one race, in an attempt to bring up attendance, which had suffered due to the Ford boycott.
- "When NASCAR lost Fireball Roberts it was like Santa Claus doesn't exist at Christmas and it just took everything out of the race" --Thoughts on Fireball Roberts' death.