Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Marcis Makes 'Last Ride'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Marcis Makes 'Last Ride'

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette, Times-Union sports writer

DAYTONA BEACH -- As Helen Marcis made her way to pit row after yesterday's Gatorade 125 races, her heart racing like the wind, she caught sight of The King giving her a thumbs-up.

That signal from Richard Petty -- who had just seen Helen's husband, Dave, qualify for a record 33rd start in the Daytona 500 -- wasn't some obligatory, phony gesture by a living legend. It was Petty paying homage to NASCAR's one remaining dinosaur.

Marcis is two weeks short of his 61st birthday and the biggest freak of nature on the Winston Cup circuit. Throwback drivers like him, guys who own their own car without any factory assistance, just don't survive anymore at racing's highest level.

They have waved the white flag, resigned to the fact that the business has outpriced the little guy. Marcis is just too darn stubborn to let the glut of NASCAR multi-car teams or the meager infrastructure of his own operation run him off the track.

"I don't know how he survived as long as he has," Petty said. "It's gotten so expensive and complicated with specialists and stuff. There's no more one-man shows. He's done it on just pure determination."

Since his first NASCAR race at the 1968 Daytona 500, Marcis has had to get by on used parts, borrowed engines, loyal friends and unrelenting ambition.

A sign inside his car shop in Avery's Creek, N.C. sums it up best: "We've done so much with so little for so long that we can do everything with nothing."

It pains Marcis to think he won't be doing it after this week, which is why getting into one last Daytona 500 (one more than Petty) meant so much after he finished seventh in the second qualifying race. Marcis will officially retire as a driver after Sunday's 500, keeping a promise to his family that is tired of worrying whether he will survive wrecks like the eight-car mishap in front of him on the 14th lap. …

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