The years between 1963 and 1971 gave me the single biggest challenge of the fifty year research, in that the newspapers gave seven different titles to the companion division running along side the Modified Hardtops of the era.

They were called Claimers, $99 Claimers, Limited Claimers, Sportsmen, Limited Sportsmen, Sportsmen Hardtops and Limited Sportsmen Hardtops, which sent me on a week by week search as I talked to different drivers of the time. My concern was, were these cars completely different division's, entitled to their own driver roster's and records, or were the reporters of the day 'simply uninformed'.

As it turns out, the division started with the use of Hardtops from previous years that progressed to a mix of Hardtops and mid 1950 model Ford's and Chevy's. As the division moved forward, the older models dropped off and the Chevy and Ford took hold. The fender wells were cut out exposing tires and engines, with header pipes being added to the 292 cubic inch, two barrel carburetor motors. The next move was to cut the car in half, remove the front doors and slide the rear door forward to the windshield. The bodies were narrowed some 30 to 40 inches to match the frame rails, and soon the cars sported a large wing an the roof.

By the end of the division's time, the cars were a wild combination of part factory body, and part driver imagination, running four-barrel carburetors atop bored out 364 cubic inch 'monster motors'.

The confusion over division names turned out to be something similar to our own personal names For most of us the first, middle, and last name that appears on our official records is supplemented by a nickname, and that nickname becomes 'us' to our friends. (i.e. My driver's license shows Walter James Shiels, but for all fifty-three years of my life, I have been simply Jimmy or Jim). Because Stockton started the division in 1963 with a $99.00 claimer rate, the local fans called the division 'Claimers'. When the claim rule was dropped in mid 1964, the name stuck in some minds, while others used Limited, Limited Sportsmen, or Sportsmen Hardtop as a title. Through the help of Jack Oldenhage of Merced, who supplied me with NASCAR handbooks of the era, I found that the official title from 1963 through 1971 was 'Limited Sportsmen', and hence a single division. The photos that follow show the evolution of the Limited's.

Pictures provided courtesy of the George Cram Jr. Collection
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