Rock On, ‘Butterbean’ Queen, And Bring More Nicknames And Color With You

It’s just kinda boring:

“Go, Ryan!” “Win it, Martin!” “Yay, William!”

I know I’m accused – rightly – of preferring to live in racing’s past, but I just think it was better to yell:

“Go, Fireball!” “Win it, Buck!” “Yay, Pops!”

You could even yell down to the pits: “Give ‘em hell, Smokey.” And if your hero got wronged and filed an appeal, it might be heard by a NASCAR Commissioner “Cannonball.”

Didn’t that liven things up a little?

If I’m right, then you, too, should be excited that Brendan “Butterbean” Queen is scheduled to make his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut at North Wilkesboro Speedway in May. It might be a turnaround point for drivers with nicknames.

Butterbean Queen takes the checkered flag at North Wilkesboro. (Photo by Adam Fenwick for NASCAR as used on

The choice of Wilkesboro for Queen’s first truck race was no accident. He won the CARS Tour late model stock car race there last year. It’s also an old-school track, and Queen has something of an old-school brand: at 26, he’s a bit older than the typical breakout driver from the dreaded development system, and he stuck with local racing (on asphalt and dirt) long enough to build a fan base.

He also has some socioeconomic puzzle pieces that could assemble to create a true fan favorite: he used to work as a longshoreman, and he celebrates his victories at Waffle House. This is not a high school kid whose dad bought him a nice ride, and things just went well from there.

Not sure where it fits into his old-school/new-school persona, but the mullet has been part of Brendon/Butterbean for quite a while. (Photo from Short Track Scene, where I saw no specific credit)

So I wish Butterbean well, but I’ll draw special attention to his nickname, which he apparently has had since he was a baby. Nicknames don’t have to be directly related to a racer’s racing (Fireball Roberts got his as a kid pitching baseballs), but either way, they make the person seem more colorful, and that’s what racing needs today.

The first race I ever saw was won by “Little Joe” Weatherly, with “Crawfish” Crider notching a top-10 finish. Sergeant Roy Mayne (he really was in the Air Force) barely missed the top 10, and Herman “the Turtle” Beam also was running at the finish. Sitting in the pits by race’s end were “Buck” Baker, “Fearless Freddie” Lorenzen, and “Fireball” Roberts. Also out was hometown favorite Emmanuel Zervakis, “the Golden Greek.”

I don’t know of any similarities between Brendan “Butterbean” Queen and Curtis “Crawfish” Crider, but if you had enough butterbeans and crawfish/crayfish, you’d have the start of an interesting meal. (Photo from the Daytona Beach News-Journal, which ran it with Crider’s obituary and gave the paper credit for the picture)

Knowing those nicknames just brought you closer to the drivers, as did knowing what they did outside of racing. Worth McMillion worked for the Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control agency, which was especially cool in the days when some other drivers still had moonshining roots. Tiny Lund wasn’t at Richmond for my first race, but everybody knew he ran a fishing camp in South Carolina.

None was the bland creation of a corporate public relations campaign.

Granted, you can take this too far. In wandering local tracks, I don’t think I’ve encountered a Fred (or other first name starting with “F”) who didn’t get called “Fast,” and there seldom is a Jason who doesn’t become “Racin’ Jason.” Some things are just too obvious.

At one small (now closed) track, the announcer had given every driver a nickname. Interesting idea, but it’s hard to keep up the quality when you need so many. Most should be cute or funny, and as an occasional announcer myself, I know why most of us don’t work as comedians, at least not successfully.

Moving a step beyond that, I’m of mixed feelings about graduating from nicknames to pseudonyms. When I was younger, one of the best modified drivers in the Mid-Atlantic U.S. was Perk Brown, but most of us knew his real name was Jack B. Thomasson.  Richmond-area late model driver Joe Fields ran a handful of Cup races back in the 1980s, but most fans (and many online databases today) probably didn’t know they were actually watching Joe Liesfeld, racing as Joe Fields.

It was some years after this picture that I watched Perk Brown race at Southside Speedway in Richmond, Martinsville, South Boston, and elsewhere, and by then just about everybody knew that his real name was Jack Thomasson, (Photo from that fantastic history repository,

When local racing exploded in popularity in the early 1950s, lots of drivers ran under assumed names, mostly because they didn’t want spouses/parents to know, or because they didn’t want NASCAR to know they were running some unsanctioned events.

Except in the music and theater businesses, assumed names seem to have gone out of style, probably because we’ve become such a suspicious people that we assume there’s a nefarious reason for the change. It wasn’t always that way.

I suspect that what underlies this whole ramble is sports-as-entertainment, and adding extra entertainment value to what’s inherent in the sport. Racing should be good enough on its own, right? Just like baseball, football, and the rest. But baseball has trivia games, t-shirts shot into the stands, and seventh-inning sing-alongs to enliven things, and football and basketball have halftime shows, so why should racing be different?

In fact, there used to be several traveling acts that supplemented race programs. I remember one with a clown and an interactive car that acted as if it had its own brain. There were motorcyclists doing school bus jumps, and the guy who got into a box full of dynamite and blew himself up. The problem with those was that they could make the show last too long. Nicknames just make everything more fun (like distinctive paint jobs, something else that’s fallen on hard times, as all are now so fancy that they look the same).

Can Butterbean Queen change any of that? Probably not in a revolutionary way, but he can make things a little more fun, if he does well enough that his first truck start isn’t his last. I hope it all works out for him.


Here’s a quick thought about NASCAR running its traveling series on dirt, something it has seemingly decided doesn’t work, since Bristol/dirt is gone from the Cup schedule, and Eldora isn’t running the trucks.

First of all, dirt track racing is incredibly fun, when done right. NASCAR didn’t do it right (although the trucks seemed to be doing OK as an ongoing deal). Most people would say the problem was that they were using paved-track race cars/trucks, and that’s certainly a big part of it – the visibility issue alone showed that these people didn’t do their homework.

This is actually from a test done for the Euro NASCAR series before it scheduled a race on an ice surface. The event wasn’t run. (Photo by Patrick Trocelli for the NASCAR Whelan Euro Series and used in Road & Track)

But paved-track cars run dirt all the time. They’re called pure stocks, or something similar, and they put on a good show because they have engines with relatively little power, which seems better for close competition. If NASCAR had substituted a (much) less powerful engine and screens instead of windshields, who knows?

The problem is that NASCAR has found that selling itself as a novelty seems to work, and it’s jumped onto that bandwagon with both feet. We’re looking for another street race, it seems, and we might run in Dodger Stadium. Like the L.A. Coliseum, they’ll work until the novelty wears off, then something else will come along.

Here’s my suggestion: take that new, huge cruise ship and have a NASCAR cruise with racing around the main deck. Then we start looking at ski resorts.

(PHOTOS – The cover photo of Butterbean Queen was taken from, where I did not see a specific credit given. Also, in the non-photo department, I’ll credit Speed Sport for its article, “The Rise of Butterbean Queen,” from which several details were adopted for this story.)


  1. I was always partial to the Crawfish moniker. Remember when he tried to start his own racing circuit? A guy with a nickname of his own, Ernest Lloyd “Sonny” Hutchins hung a pretty good one on Paul Radford when he coined him the “Ferrum Flash.” That one stuck. My 2nd ever race was won by Cotton, but I don’t think I ever saw Paddlefoot Wales. And it is hard to imagine the driver nicknames Spook or Burr Head surviving in woke NASCAR. And even though he won scores of Late Model Sportsman races, “Mr. Modified” will always be remembered as Ray Hendrick’s unofficial handle. We could use some more good nicknames today, even tho there are folks around who don’t know what a butterbean is. They are the same folks who can’t identify a snap and have never drank a cocola.

    1. That’s a great nickname roundup, Dave. Thanks for the addition. As for the nicknames that might not carry beyond a region or locality, do you think we could ever have guy go with Pronto Pup?

      BTW, we have a guy running PA Sprint Series who used to have Dairy Queen as a sponsor, and thanks to a creative announcer, his nickname is Milkshake.

  2. Frank, I don’t know how you do it, but thank you for another great read.
    There are lots of time, as I get older, that I think of the past and how great things were back then. I don’t know if it was because most drivers/racers were older than me and now they are so much younger. Is that what makes some of the difference. Or is it NASCAR, the changes they continually make and the rules which they change or tweak, seems like on a regular basis. Novelty? Yep…
    I loved the nicknames and still have some of my own for some of the drivers of today. I am not sure everyone would appreciate some I use though.
    I look forward to seeing Butterbean Queen race

    1. Thanks, Vivian. It’s easier to write about those old times, because that’s where the best memories are. Some might say that’s part of aging, and I can’t argue, but there’s also an element of truth.

  3. I’ve been watching Butterbean for 5 years now. The first 4 were all at Langley, and last year in the CARS Tour. He did run his first race in the CARS Tour at the end of the 2022 season. That was his first also driving for Lee Pulliam, at the SC 400 at Florence. Sure enough, he won it. His first full season in the CARS Tour, and he damn near won the championship. While still running predominately at Langley, some were saying that he was a 1 track wonder. So he started racing a dirt car for the first time, and he won in that car too. One night at Langley, a driver that drove a modified there didn’t/couldn’t be there. He jumped into that mod, having never raced it before, and won in it. After winning his first championship at Langley, he finally bought a new car. Yeah, that led to 2 more championships there. That was their family owned team. He and his longtime sponsor started talking about running the CARS Tour, and that’s what led him to LPM. I’m pretty sure that he does some of the best interviews, whether he wins or not. Fans love him because he always seems to be happy & loose. He can be a bit goofy at times on social media, and he’s comfortable with it. Like you said Frank, he’s a guy people can relate to. He’s been blessed to have sponsors that believe in him, and have the where with all to support him. I also love that he races clean. He doesn’t tear up his or others’ cars, and he still wins quite a bit. Teams & sponsors love that. I thought 2 years ago that he would be able to get to the national level. I very happy for him, and I hope that he does well in the truck. There are 2 drivers that I really think have a great chance to succeed in a national tour. Butterbean is one, and the other is Kaden Honeycutt, from Aledo, TX.

    Kaden turned a lot of people’s heads last Nov. At Phoenix during Cup weekend, he raced an ARCA car, getting that team owner his first owner’s championship. Then he jumped into a truck owned by Young Motorsports, if I remember correctly. Neither of them are well funded teams. He finished top 5 in both. He then caught a redeye flight back to NC. He ran, and won the CARS Tour Pro Late Model race on Sat, and on Sunday he finished 2nd or 3rd. That led to R&S Racecars to offer him a ride in the 2023 SC 400. He ran great, and finished top 5, also in a car that he hadn’t raced before. In 1 way he’s a lot like Butterbean. He races clean, doesn’t tear up his or others’ cars. But there is 1 area he hasn’t been able to do as well. He doesn’t have any big sponsors to bring to any ride. Last year in the CARS Tour races that he was able to run, Butlerbilt Seats was his only sponsor. But running the way he does, when he gets a ride, it’s starting to payoff. He has a ride for most of the CARS Tour Late Model Stock season, and the team has decent funding. He finished 5th last Sunday, driving the #17 for the first time. He will also be running a Niece Motorsports truck for several shows. Niece fields up to 5 trucks on any given weekend. I can’t wait to see. him there. One of the things that I think makes him so good, is a dirt mod that he races at a track near Austin, TX. There, mods have to run used late model slicks!! My mind can’t even fathom that. Boy won’t that teach you throttle control..

    There is another driver that is finally getting a chance at an Xfinity ride, but it’s just for 1 race. Bubba Pollard is going to run a race for Dale Jr at Richmond. I didn’t list him as a driver that I think would be great in a NASCAR top 3 series ride. I only did that because of 2 things, first is his age. Do I think he’s capable, yeah more than capable. Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of teams or sponsors wanting to hitch their wagon to a 37 year old rookie, for those series’. But I’d sure like to see that happen. The second is he can be a bit boring in interviews, win or lose. But between the dirt track that he owns, and his own racing, I’m not sure if that’s a goal that he has for himself. Plus, he’s never run a car that heavy. I read that he’s going to run an ARCA car a time or two, to try and get ready for Richmond.

    I can’t wait to see how well the CARS Tour and the SRL Series seasons go. I love the super late models that the SRL runs. I also love the Late model stocks that the CARS Tour runs. I think those two have the best asphalt racing in the country.

    Frank, I’ve got an idea. Like you said, NASCAR seems to be in love with novelty racing venues, and in love with the SoCal area. Since they seem to think a race at Dodger Stadium might be a good idea, maybe they can do it like the old Supercross Series. You know, build the track to where they have to race through the grandstands too!! I can’t figure out if NASCAR has lost their way, or lost their minds.

    1. Ron, I’ve called before for NASCAR to have its big dirt-track race at the dome in St. Louis where they already run dirt late models every winter, but I’m not sure if the aisles are wide enough for the cars to go through the stands. Would love to see it, though.

      I’ve also said before that Bubba Pollard deserves to be in a NASCAR traveling series vehicle more that at least a couple dozen of the faceless driver development program graduates who have come and gone over the last decade or so. Sad that a man with his talent has to stand in line based on wallet size (his own or his father’s).

      1. I think that we’re all of the same page, and I think NASCAR has forgotten what their core product is. IT’S RACING!!! Gimmick races/tracks may sound good for a minute, and attract some new fans, but they won’t stick around for long. If the on track action is bad, or the format that it’s run under is a joke, people won’t stick around after the novelty wears off.
        I still find it absolutely amazing that NASCAR recognizes that they have a problem on certain tracks, yet refuse to listen to what the drivers say would fix it. Worse than that, they openly argue that the driver’s fix is blatantly flawed, without even trying it in a test session. For 2 years now, the drivers have asked for less playing around with the body/chassis, and add some horsepower. NASCAR says no, it will cost too much. Yet all 3 engine manufacturers have said that all of the parts that they use now, would easily support up to another 150hp. NASCAR still thinks that passing data shows that their plan is working. Well, it’s been dissected numerous times on this site alone, that it just ain’t so. They still think as long as they can bunch the field up with a few laps to go, and half the field gets destroyed getting to the checkers, that it was “an exciting” finish. No, it’s just another embarrassment.
        I live about 35 miles from COTA, and I went to the first NASCAR weekend that they ran there. It’s a great facility!! I was contacted by the marketing dept at COTA this week. I’m still net sure how they got my number, because I sure don’t remember giving it to them 3 years ago. They were trying to sell me tickets to the races this weekend, and the tickets weren’t that expensive (I know, you are shocked too). I turned them down. I told them that with the exception of SGV, I don’t think that many of the regulars know how to race on a road course, without taking out half the field in turn one, and it didn’t even need to be on the last lap.
        Frank, Bubba is going to run the ARCA East race tomorrow night at Five Flags, weather permitting. I would love it if he went out and spanked the field, just like Doug Coby did at Stafford in the SRX series. But as I said above, he’s not a “great” interview, as he is fairly calm, win or lose. Plus, he’s not a 5’5″, 150lb little pretty boy, you know easy to look at at for the girls. If it were based just on talent, he’d have been there 10 years ago.
        I’m friends with another guy like that. Jim Pettit II was voted as one of NASCAR’s top 25 weekly racing series drivers of all time. He’s won on dirt and asphalt, and not just races, championships too. And that was before he won back to back NASCAR Southwest Tour championships. There has only been 2 drivers to ever do that. The other was Ron Hornaday Jr. When NASCAR dropped their touring series’ (the Winston West, the Southwest, Northwest, Midwest & Southeast, now called ARCA), he started racing the SRL Series. David Hoots had been in charge of those series’, while working for NASCAR. He got NASCAR’s permission to use the Southwest Tour name for the SRL. Jim then went on to win 3 championships in that series. Jim’s problem, he wasn’t 5’5″/150lb pretty boy, didn’t do angry interviews, and didn’t have a boatload of money to bring to the deal.
        I remember back when NASCAR took over the ARCA operations. I thought that it would be a good shot in the arm, for a series that seemed to be running out of steam. Well, they did get a shot, but it’s starting to look like a shot in the head. ARCA used to be a good regional series that worked for 2 different groups. One group was for those racers that had jobs, raced mostly near their midwest homes/jobs, and racing that wouldn’t bankrupt them. The other group was those that were trying to work their way up to NASCAR, and had either hopes and dreams, or a big wallet or sponsor. Now it’s nothing more than a driver development minor league for mostly rich kids. There’s only about 3 teams that actually can field a car/cars that have a chance to win. So if 20 cars show up for an ARCA National series race, there will be 4-5 cars that have a chance to win. And these will be owned by either Joe Gibbs, or by Billy Venturini. The rest of the cars will probably be at least 2-3 laps down by the halfway break. Yeah, Greg Van Alts won Daytona last year, but hey, it was at Daytona, and ARCA always has at least half the field destroyed in a race there.
        It was announced yesterday that NASCAR was taking over everything at Bowman-Gray. NASCAR and the Hawkins family started that track back in the 40s, and the Hawkins family is still actively involved there. Even though I don’t care for the racing B-G, I don’t want them to screw it up either. Time will tell, but I’m hoping for the best.

  4. Great job Frank and couldn’t agree more.

    Looking back
    Tiny wasn’t ever
    Gentleman Ned was always
    The Intimidator, the Silver Fox and the King will always be

    Million Dollar Bill and Jaws earned it
    Handsome Harry was born with it

    Rowdy… well, is just Rowdy

    YRB (Young Ryan Blaney) should have been CRB (Champion Ryan Blaney) as soon as the Flag dropped at Phoenix-opportunity lost.

    Another miss is “Big Hat” Byron, driver of the 24.

    And in this world today it just seems wrong to refer to driver of the 5 as Yung Money. I’m sure that’s just me though.

    And things have gone so far as to feel uneasy calling a Victory Lap run clockwise a Polish Victory Lap even though its creator proudly named it that and would still approve.

    Nicknames are part of the fabric of the sport. Unfortunately, too few exist today. Most have never seen a Possum or a Crawdad and fans in the desired demographic wouldn’t know what they are anyway.

    You can’t nickname on their stature, a lineup full of “Shrimp” just doesn’t work.

    I can think of some nicknames that are appropriate for the driver but not appropriate for repeating publicly, but if used you’d know without a doubt and how they got it.

    And the rappers have taken the other good ones-just ask PitBull.

    Fine piece, Frank. Fine piece.

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