By Lyndal Scranton
Ozarks Area Racers Foundation
Long after turning laps with some of the world’s best stock-car drivers, Terry Bivins still likes to go fast. It’s just that, at age 73, things are a bit more laid back in the B-Mod he campaigns at Lakeside Speedway.
“We’re retired and love to fish,” Bivins said of he and wife, Claudia. “But you can’t fish in Kansas every day.”
So for the last fews years, the Lebow, Kansas, resident who once was one of the best in the Midwest has returned to the cockpit of a race car. He’s still competitive, finishing eighth in points last season at Lakeside Speedway in a 10-year-old car with plans to run again in 2017.
He will do so as a Hall of Famer after his induction into the Ozarks Area Racers Foundation Hall of Fame on Jan. 7 at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds E-Plex in Springfield. Tickets ($15 in advance and $20 at the door) are available at many O’Reilly Auto Parts locations in southwest Missouri.
Joining Bivins in the 30th annual induction class in the Legend (driving) division are Mark Martin, Rick Sharp, Robbie Johnson and the late Rayme Johnson. In the Pioneer (off-track contribution) division are the late Julian Martin, Lucas Oil Products founder Forrest Lucas, journalist Ned Reynolds, one-time NASCAR car owner Bill Davis and long-time Ozarks track announcer Ronnie Williams.
There was a time some four decades ago when Bivins, then from Shawnee Mission, Kansas, mixed it up with man of nation’s best short-trackers at the old Springfield Fairgrounds Speedway, I-70 Speedway and Rolla Speedway before embarking on a brief NASCAR career. He was competitive against the big boys.
“It was rewarding,” Bivins said of 28 career NASCAR Sprint Cut races from 1975-77, including an eighth-place finish in the 1976 Daytona 500. “I had short-tracked for 13 or 14 years, clear up north to down to Florida and Louisiana and Arkansas. That was a goal, something I always dreamed to do, to race at Daytona or those places.
“To get the opportunity was satisfying, just knowing that I did a good-enough job that people would offer me a ride down there.”
For a time in NASCAR he drove a car owned by Arkansas’ Billy Moyer – who went on to become a dirt-track Hall of Famer – for three races including Daytona, Richmond and Atlanta.
“He kept telling me I was supposed to have a new engine on the way,” Bivins said. “It was supposed to get there for Atlanta and never showed. Well, I was top-10 in points after Daytona and Richmond. I went ahead and ran the old motor and it popped halfway through the (Atlanta) 500. We had to try to do something else after that.”
Bivins calls the Ozarks Racers Foundation Hall of Fame honor “a heck of an honor for me. I did a lot of racing all over, but I raced down there a lot – and won down there a lot. It makes me proud to get recognition for racing somewhere other than in the Kansas City area.
“I loved running at Springfield. At the Fairgrounds, that old flat track was fun. Rolla was a great place to race, too.”
“The competition level, it was tough, man. You had Larry Phillips, (Lester) Friebe, (David) Goldsberry, (Willie) Crane and others. There were some fast cats down there. When you came down there and won a race, you knew you had out-run some of the best in the country.”
Bivins said he hadn’t raced in nearly 30 years when he was approached a few years ago about driving a Grand National car at Lakeside.
“It took me about 30 seconds to say yes,” he said. He went into an A-Mod after wrecking that car and has been in the B-Mod in recent years.
“I know I’m not as fast as I used to be,” Bivins said. “But my reflexes are really good. You can drop a wrench and I’ll catch it before it hits the floor.”
Don’t expect Bivins to slow soon any time soon. After all, there’s only so much fishing he and Claudia can do in the middle of Kansas.
“I am looking forward to next year and hope to have another good season and a lot of fun racing with those young, fast guys,” he said.