New in the collection: Petty-approved snake oil?

VX-6 box with image of Lee Petty and the words "I'd rather race without tires than without VX-6 in my battery."

Verso of VX-6 box with words "The contents of this package will end the number 1 crippling cause of battery failure."

“If you’ve been to enough swap meets, you’ve no doubt spotted a yellow and black [or red and black in this example] box of VX-6, often with the likeness of NASCAR legend Lee Petty endorsing the contents with the phrase, ‘I’d rather race without tires than without VX-6 in my battery.’

“VX-6, produced by National Dynamics (originally of New York), and others like it, is actually cadmium that, in theory, is supposed to prevent or halt sulfation. Those who swore by it insisted that inserting small doses into each cell of a new battery saw improved start time, longer life and brighter illumination of all lights in/on the vehicle. Although some period testing resulted in a finding of ‘no improvement,’ and others insisted that it was just an automotive snake oil [a view strongly suggested by the Federal Trade Commission], it’s hard to overlook the decades of satisfied customers.

“Original VX-6 boxes may have collectibility today — often with $5-$20 asking prices — however, the product has not disappeared with time. Today it’s marketed under the brand name Charge-It Concentrated Battery Additive by Solder-It in a 2-ounce bottle at a cost of $10.99, most commonly through another legend in the automotive world — [now defunct] JC Whitney.”

— From “Keeping the Spark Fresh: A collectible chemical fluid is still offered to extend battery life” by Matt Litwin in Hemmings Motor News  (Jan. 5, 2016)

When Lee Petty plugged VX-6 in the 1950s and ’60s, NASCAR’s endorsement machine had barely started rolling. It took son Richard’s alliance with STP in the ’70s to stomp on the gas.

New in the collection: Charlotte Speedway pinback

Blue pinback with words "World 600. I'll be there!"

A 600-mile stock-car race? How come? Because Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner, owners of the brand-new Charlotte Motor Speedway, wanted to one-up the famed Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day 1960.

Undercutting their ploy, construction problems delayed the track’s opening by three weeks –and even then the rough, uncured surface caused a memorable mess. Six drivers – Richard Petty, Lee Petty and Junior Johnson among them — were disqualified for cutting through the grass for pit stops to replace blown tires.

By 1981 Charlotte Motor Speedway had put its ragged debut behind it, and World 600 drivers could confidently promise, “I’ll Be There!”