Sportsman Racer Robert Bullard Named 2015 Woody Andrews Award Winner
Story by Jim Hill
When Robert Bullard rolled one of his many race cars to the starting line, it made no difference who was in the opposite lane. Robert’s opponent knew he was going to get as good a race as was possible, and that Bullard was seldom late on the lights.
Robert’s driving skills were especially well known in eastern North Carolina, where he ran first in Stock Eliminator, Modified Eliminator, Super Stock and finally in ET Bracket racing. At Robert’s “backyard” tracks in Southeastern North Carolina, Chadbourn, Jacksonville, Dunn-Benson, Fayetteville, Piedmont, Person County, 710, Wadesboro and Darlington, South Carolina, his driving skills earned him a reputation.
Robert and Milton Bullard were drag racing brothers who fed off each other’s passion for going fast and winning races. Robert began his career helping his older brother Milton in preparing, maintaining and running a 426 hemi race car they called the “Hemi Hannah”. Milton’s mid-60’s success with that car earned him a slot in the North Carolina Drag Racing Hall of Fame.
When Milton decided to retire from drag racing Robert was eager to continue, first with a homebuilt, ’57 Chevy Stock Eliminator car he named “The Fugitive”. Robert’s next move was up, to the considerably faster and quicker Modified Eliminator ranks. Running first a four-speed manual transmission and later, a Doug Nash five-speed, Robert’s starting line skills and abilities with a manual trans were admirable. On both quarter mile and eighth-mile tracks he slammed gears and earned numerous Modified wins.
Carolina racing was well stocked with nationally known racers eager to show a local upstart their backside. Racers such as Charlie Taylor, Bobby and Jeff Warren, George Duff, Ronnie Yopp, David Surles, Jabo Elam, Dick Henry, Ronnie Stewart, and many others were often present, and Bullard more than held his own against these national headliners. He ran tracks and events sanctioned by both NHRA and IHRA, with equal success.
When Modified Eliminator was deleted by NHRA (IHRA continued with Modified for several more years) Robert moved to Super Stock in the 1980’s. He also branched out to running ET Brackets, vowing to keep his driving skills sharp as well as enjoying the pleasure of lining up against a fellow racer.
Robert was a true sportsman racer, and tended to race at tracks near his home. He did, in 1998, head “up north”, running an IHRA event at Leicester, NY, where he took Super Stock Eliminator. He also made the trek up to Norwalk, Ohio, scoring a runner-up in S/S. 1998 proved to be Robert’s best year for racing success. He finished fourth in points in Super Stock, and continued to run a bracket car at area tracks. He was also involved in teaching his son Clay the right way to prepare and run a race car, and the ethics of being a true sportsman racer.
Like many other racers of his day, Robert took great pride in being a true do-it-yourself racer. He assembled his own engines and transmissions and built his own race cars. He was self-taught in many of the skills necessary to race, and was known to offer his assistance to anyone who asked for help, at the track or back at home, in his shop at home, in Whiteville, NC.
During his career Robert owned and raced several Chevy Gen I Camaros in Modified, Super Stock, Super Gas, Super Rod, Hot Rod and Super Street Eliminators in NHRA and IHRA. He also built and ran a small-block Chevy powered Vega and a Chevy II Nova in ET brackets. Robert’s interests were mainly in racing, and although he had fond memories of favorite race cars, he never was one to collect classics or musclecars.
Robert Bullard lost his battle with cancer, succumbing to the disease at the early age of 67. The East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame honored him as the 2015 posthumous winner of the Woody Andrews Memorial Award, Robert Bullard. Robert’s award was accepted by Clay Bullard during the October 2015 Induction Ceremonies in Henderson, NC.