---- — By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- At 83, Marion 'Eddie' Bond is still a fixture at the Bloomington Speedway, 61 years after he started racing on the 1/4-mile bull ring.
Bond, who was named for John Wayne (Marion Robert Morrison), spends his summers in Indiana and winters in Florida.
The native of Bedford, Ind., who sits with a group of 10 friends every Friday night, recalled his days of racing the dirt before heading to Florida to run with NASCAR.
"Those Kinsers were good drivers," he said. "I got in a fight one night with Bob, but it really didn't amount to anything."
Bond was a strapping 6-foot, 215-pound driver back in the day.
"I had to be the unluckiest driver there ever was," he said. "I had the worst luck finishing events."
He raced in the then Grand National series and later NASCAR in the 1973 and 1974 seasons in a Dodge Charger.
"I was running fifth in the 1973 Talladega 500, they had 68 cars sign in and they started 63 that day," he said. "On the 20th lap, they had a 27-car pileup. I backed off a half-lap before and missed it. Then with 20 laps to go, I broke a valve spring. The same thing (broken valve spring) happened to me at Charlotte Motor Speedway."
He finished 12th that day at Talladega, his best finish. He made two Daytona 500 starts, finishing 18th in 1974 and 21st in 1973.
One of the biggest things that Bond has seen change over the years in racing is the safety equipment.
"I was probably the first driver to have a fire suit," he said.
Bond thinks today's racers are 'fantastic' and he should know. He was racing with the best of his era and he's now watching the best of this generation race on Friday nights.