50 Greatest Modified Drivers – Jimmy Spencer
During his Modified racing career Jimmy Spencer won only twice at Stafford: the 1983 Spring Sizzler® non-qualifiers event and the 1984 Spring Sizzler®. But he left his mark at Stafford like none other because of his style of driving.
Spencer began his racing career at the rough and tumble Port Royal Speedway in his native Pennsylvania in 1978. One year later Spencer moved up to the NASCAR Modifieds at the Shangri La Speedway in New York and won Rookie of the Year honors. His first big race away from home was similar to his fist visit to Stafford. At the 1979 Race of Champions at Pocono Raceway, he ran well but couldn’t qualify. He would later come back and win that event like he did at the Stafford Spring Sizzler®.
During the early and mid-1980s, Spencer was a regular Friday night competitor at Stafford where he honed his driving skills and was given the moniker “Mr. Excitement” by announcer Ben Dodge. NASCAR adopted the touring series concept for the Modifieds in 1985 and Spencer took part in the series until 1988 when he moved up to the Xfinity Series. During his tenure on the Modified Tour, he recorded 15 wins including the Thompson 300 and the Pocono Race of Champions, plus back to back Tour Championships in 1986 and 1987.
When Spencer went full time Xfinity Series racing in 1988 and 1989, he was truly a force to be reckoned with. In 52 starts he recorded three wins, nine top 5s, and 24 top 10s. Spencer got the call to go NASCAR Cup Racing in 1990 and became one of the most watched drivers on the circuit.
Jimmy Spencer has been selected as one of the Fifty Greatest Modified Drivers of All-time as voted on by the public in the Stafford Salutes NASCAR at 50 program.
By: Phil Smith