By Ben White
Albert “Buz” McKim, historian for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, has enjoyed numerous on-track fender smashing battles for over 60 years. At only two weeks old, he attended his first stock car race at Jersey City, N.J. when his Dad, Bob McKim, co-owned and wrenched a NASCAR Sportsman 1939 Ford.
“My Dad had the old NASCAR logo on the rear glass of our family car,” McKim said. “That was one of the very first things I can recall as a human being was seeing that old logo on the back window.”
Also in the 1950s, McKim’s father wrote press releases and worked as a track announcer in Philadelphia and Hollywood, Fla.-places where the iconic Andretti and Allison families began their motorsports careers.
The McKims moved to Daytona in 1965 due to his father’s insurance industry transfer. His volunteer job as a track spotter at Daytona International Speedway paved the way for his son to spot at the track from 1969 until 1982.
McKim also drove a short track car in 1967, buying a six-cylinder ’55 Chevrolet he raced at Deland Raceway. It was a lake that the owner had drained and made into a high-banked quarter-mile track surrounded by chicken wire. The track had no grandstands bit allowed fans to park at its edge.
McKim lettered the white car with red No. 3s, prompting many to ask him to letter what he called “a thousand” cars over the next 50 years. That includes two consecutive Daytona 500 winners with Benny Parsons’ L.G. Dewitt-owned Chevrolet in 1975 and David Pearson’s Wood Brothers Mercury in 1976. Some of the cars he lettered are presently in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. He also painted signs for mobile concession stands as well as signs for Emory-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona.
Early years working at Bill Tuthill’s Museum of Speed in South Daytona eventually led to becoming NASCAR’s photographic archives director in 1998, director of statistical services in September of 2003 and NHOF historian in 2007.
“These days I help develop exhibits, write historic copy and captions for photos, retrieve items and work with those who lend artifacts and making sure they get back safely,” McKim said. “What I enjoy most above anything else is helping to preserve the history of the sport. It’s vital that we preserve as much as of it as we possibly can.”