NASCAR Power Rankings: Playing the name game

In 75 years of racing, NASCAR results lists have included some of the world of sport’s most unusual names.

Some were nicknames that became everyday names for drivers. Other unusual names came straight from the birth certificate.

Here’s a top 10 of some of the grandest:

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1. Fireball Roberts — There will never be a better stock car racing name, although, oddly, it had nothing to do with cars and tracks. Roberts’ real name was Glenn, but he picked up “Fireball” as a baseball pitcher. It carried over well to racing as he became NASCAR’s first national superstar.

2. Lake Speed — With a name like that, you have to be a racer. Maybe a boat racer would have been more appropriate, but still. … Speed raced 20 years in the Cup Series, scoring a single win. He outran Alan Kulwicki and Davey Allison to the checkered flag in the spring race at Darlington in 1988.

3. Coo Coo Marlin — His name was Clifton. Nobody called him that. Perhaps more famous as Sterling Marlin’s father, Coo Coo was a Cup semi-regular in the 1960s and ’70s. He made 165 starts without a win.

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4. Crawfish Crider — Supposedly got the nickname when he splashed his race car into water. Makes sense. Crider raced in Cup from 1959-65, making 232 starts without a win. His journey included starts in 59 of the 62 races on the 1964 schedule.

5. Frog Fagan — He jumped into NASCAR from Canada. Ran 20 races in the 1960s and ’70s.

6. Burrhead Nantz — Ran three races in 1960 and went home to Mooresville, North Carolina. Real name: Homer.

7. Dick Trickle — With a name like that, you have to be tough. He was. A short-track terror in the Midwest, Trickle won hundreds of races but failed to score in Cup in 303 starts from 1970-2002. He was Cup Rookie of the Year in 1989 at the age of 48. And nobody in the sport smoked more Marlboros.

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8. Speedy Thompson — Obviously, he was fast. Twenty Cup wins (eight in 1956). Finished third in Cup points four consecutive seasons (1956-59)

9. Nero Steptoe — Just because it’s a great name. A Georgia driver who ran five Cup races in the mid-1950s.

10. Jocko Maggiacomo — When your first name is Chauncey, a good nickname is almost a requirement. Made 23 Cup starts across 11 seasons in the 1970s and ’80s.

Honorable mentions: Possum Jones, Banjo Matthews, Soapy Castles, Dick Passwater, Gober Sosebee, Jesse James Taylor, numerous drivers named Chase (including Chase Elliott, Chase Briscoe and Mike Chase).

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NASCAR Power Rankings: Playing the name game originally appeared on NBCSports.com