Hassell Spears began his racing career in the 50's at the local track. Other tracks he raced in the area included Columbia (located just across the river where Northway Shopping Center is now located) Leoma, Florence AL and several tracks around Nashville, including the 1 mile dirt track where Nashville "Fairground" Speedway is now located.
The first car was a 1934 Chevrolet coupe. The chassis was originally built around a 3/4 ton Chevy pickup. The engine was a 302 cubic inch GMC engine from a 470 series truck, therefore the number "470".
Sponsor shown on the car was "Spears Bros (Brothers) Block Co." Hassell and his brother Hershel owned and operated the company that made concrete blocks and sold building materials.
Since the car he began racing in the 60's looked basically the same, the sponsor on the door defines the decade: Spears Bros Block Co. = 1950's and Hassell Spears Dozer Work or just Hassell Spears on the door = 1960's.
The picture below was made at the Fairground speedway in Nashville (about 1953-54). The track was a one mile flat track that was previously used as a horse racing track. This race was during the State Fair (notice the rides in the infield area). Safety was not a priority during this time, notice that the cars were parked on the side of the racing surface. Those not racing were backed up against the fence on the front straight. 470 is laying on its side after flipping approximately 5 times after being forced into the parked vehicles next to the fence. The left front tire caught the front bumper of a wrecker causing the car to flip end over end. The hood came through the windshield and the corner went under the helmet and Hassell had to have 20 stitched in his forehead and scalp. If you can see the fence in the back ground, it was a wooden fence made for the horse racing track. In 1956, Frank Reed (Murfreesboro TN) was killed during a wreck when a 2x4 came through the car and the driver.
The above article was believed to have been in one of the Nashville newspapers (Tennessean or Banner). It incorrectly listed "Herschel Spears" instead of "Hassell Spears". Herschel & Hassell were brothers - The SPEARS BROS. as painted on the door.
The article mentioned that he received a slight cut on the head. It is my understanding from what I have heard, he had approximately 20 stitched in his forehead where the corner of the hood went under the bib of his helmet. If you look at the picture closely, the grill and hood assembly is pushed back to the left of the car and the corner of the hood is inside the car.
Thanks to Gerald Johns from Lawrenceburg for sending the article to me.
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