Graveyard Ghosts: Jimmy Means’ No. 52 Alka-Seltzer Car

Ron Lemasters | 8/28/2017

News Racecar Graveyard

One of the elder statesmen in the Racecar Graveyard, the No. 52 Alka-Seltzer entry driven by Mike Wallace and Jimmy Means also doubles as one of the most recent additions.

Driver: Mike Wallace     

Car: No. 52 Alka-Seltzer Oldsmobile

Track: Atlanta Motor Speedway (Nov. 17, 1991)

Bio: Jimmy Means is a hero among NASCAR fans of a certain age, as one of the privateer owner/drivers in the sport when it was taking off on its ascension to big-daddy status among North American racing leagues. Means was always at the track, doing more with less, and the iconic Alka-Seltzer paint scheme he used was instantly recognizable.

Means didn’t always drive his own cars, either. He would put various drivers in the seat to give them a chance to prove themselves in the NASCAR Cup Series, or give his car a better chance at a higher finish, depending on the track.

Enter Mike Wallace, the middle brother in the trio of racing Wallaces. Then 32 years old, Wallace had made his Cup Series debut in the No. 52 at Phoenix a week prior to taking the wheel at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the season finale.

He started 36th in the 40-car field, and on lap 73 was involved in a crash in Turn 2. The crash broke Wallace’s collarbone and eliminated him from the race. Earlier, Means had attempted to qualify the car at Martinsville, but missed the race. He made the race at North Wilkesboro Speedway, finishing 28th after battling clutch problems.

Interestingly enough, the car in the Racecar Graveyard wears Oldsmobile sheet metal, but was listed as a Pontiac during several races, including the one in which Wallace crashed and was injured. In those days, switching makes (from Pontiac to Buick to Oldsmobile to Chevrolet, at least) was fairly easy to do, as long as the engine was a GM product.

The car is a very recent addition to the Graveyard, appearing there within the last few weeks. Means’ son, Brad, is one of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s close friends from the early days. They were part of a group that roamed the tracks while their fathers raced. Long-time sponsor Gerald Voyles had the car, and after a unique barter arrangement was reached, Dirty Mo Acres staffers drove the flatbed truck down to northern Georgia to make the pick-up near the end of July.

It came to rest in its current spot, a reminder of a simpler time in NASCAR and a unique tribute to the Means and Wallace families.