The Morris is Morris Lee Metcalfe of Morristown, Tennessee and late of Winston Salem, NC. He's better known to us and the automobile-racing world as NASCAR's Chief Scorer, Morris Metcalfe - that's the coveted position he held for many years.
He was in Lansing, Michigan this past summer getting ready to take a ride with veteran NASCAR Race Driver Dick Passwater in the number 77, a 1953 Olds "88" that Dick piloted to fame in those early days of NASCAR racing. As I've told you before this car is the one Dick donated to the R.E. Olds Museum a few years back and is the only original Rocket "88" NASCAR racer we know of still in it's original form.
It was my distinct pleasure to have first met Morris at the annual August NASCAR race at the Michigan Speedway in 1997. We had taken the '53 Olds to the speedway to help celebrate Oldsmobile's 100th Birthday. On the very warm and sunny Sunday morning before the race, we had the car sifting on display in the garage area awaiting an escort to move the car into the track where Dick would drive it on a demonstration lap for the fans.
As dick and I stood by the rear of the car talking with Richard Petty who had stopped by, this older gentleman approached the car. We heard him say, "Why that's Dick Passwater's car," and just as he said that he looked up and spied Dick and said, "My goodness, that's Dick Passwater!"
After he and Dick Exchanged old-buddy how you dos, Dick introduced Morris to me. Morris then told me this story. He said that Dick's car was the very first car he ever scored for NASCAR. It was at the Old Hickory Track in North Carolina. Morris said he had come to see the race and they announced they needed scorers over the PA system, so he volunteered. He drew Dick's car and as luck would have it, the car won that race. As a perk for doing the scoring gig, NASCAR gave Morris the price of his ticket back and that soled him on a good way to spend his Sundays at the racetrack for free.
From that meager beginning, Morris worked his way into the NASCAR family and in the end was elevated to Chief Scorer, a post he held for 17 hears before his retirement in 2002. During his career with NASCAR, Morris scored incredible 3,000 races. In addition to his career as a NASCAR Scorer, he earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Miami and a Master's degree from the University of Texas while working his day job as an industrial engineer for Western Electic. He worked for that company for 30 years.
His greatest legacy is the fact that given the great opportunity for crisis in the work that he did, there was never a controversy in NASCAR scoring during his tenure. This says volumes for his competency.
On this day, Morris had traveled the 40 miles north from the Michigan Speedway to visit the R.E. Olds Museum. While there, he asked the Docent where Dick Passwater's car was. They told him it was just up the street as Lansing's annual Car Capitol Celebration that the Museum sponsors each year as a fundraiser and they added that Dick was also in Lansing also. Morris's eyes lit up and he walked the three blocks to downtown and found Dick and the car. It was a delightful surprise for Dick as well as the crowd, to have such a famous personage visit our celebration.
After a round of introductions of the team of museum volunteers and other interested spectators, Morris answered a ton of questions and delighted us all with some of his most interesting stories of his relationships and involvement over the years with so many legends of NASCAR racing.
Too soon time slipped away. When Morris had to leave, Dick offered him a ride back to his car in the old number 77 Olds, the very racecar Morris had first scored, some 48 years ago. What are the chances of that happening? Morris made no hesitation to accept the offer.
After they got seated, Dick fired the big old Rocket engine to life and they rolled through the crowed bellowing the low sweet powerful exhaust not e of the straight pipes which produced such sweet music for the ears of the true gear heads, young and old alike, Morris was just beaming the whole way.
His visit capped a great day for all of us and for those fortunate enough to have been there, it was a date we will never forget.
God Bless America,