The “Thrill Driver’s Choice” ~ In 1956, Joie Chitwood Thrill Show drivers exclusively drove Chevrolet cars…
Joie Chitwood Thrill Show
The “Joie Chitwood Thrill Show” was an exhibition of auto stunt driving that became so successful, Chitwood gave up racing his racing career. Often called “Hell Drivers,” he had five units that for more than forty years toured across North America thrilling audiences in large and small towns alike with their death-defying automobile stunts.
His show was so popular, that in January 1967, the performance at the Islip Speedway, New York was broadcast on ABC television’s Wide World of Sports.
On May 13, 1978, Joie Chitwood set a world record when he drove a Chevrolet Chevette for 5.6 miles (9.0 km) on just 2 wheels.
The show was featured during season 3 of CHiPs in an episode entitled “Thrill Show”.
Chitwood’s show was credited by Evel Knievel as being his inspiration to become a daredevil.
His sons, Joie Jr. and Tim both joined the auto thrill show and continued to run the “Joie Chitwood Chevy Thunder Show” after their father’s retirement. His grandson, Joie Chitwood III, is the President of Daytona International Speedway and a former president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Who Is Joie Chitwood?
George Rice “Joie” Chitwood (April 14, 1912 – January 3, 1988) was an American racecar driver and businessman. He is best known as a daredevil in the Joie Chitwood Thrill Show.
Born in Denison, Texas of Cherokee Indian ancestry, he was dubbed “Joie” by a track promoter and the name stuck.
Chitwood started his racecar driving career in 1934 at a dirt track in Winfield, Kansas. From there, he began racing sprint cars. In 1939 and 1940 he won the AAA East Coast Sprint car championship. He switched to the CSRA and won its title in 1942.
Between 1940 and 1950 competed at the Indianapolis 500 seven times finishing fifth on three different occasions. He was the first man ever to wear a safety belt at the Indy 500.
Chitwood was frequently hired by Hollywood film studios to either do stunt driving for films or to act as auto-stunt coordinator. On a few occasions he appeared in a minor role, notably with Clark Gable and Barbara Stanwyck in the 1950 film about auto racing, To Please a Lady.
In 1973, Chitwood is credited as a Stunt Coordinator for the hugely successful James Bond film Live and Let Die (film), where he was also the stunt driver and acted in a minor part.
Chitwood also acted as a car safety consultant, intentionally crashing vehicles for subsequent investigation. He had intentionally crashed more than 3000 vehicles by the time he appeared on the game show I’ve Got A Secret in 1965.
When Chitwood retired, his sons took over the business. Joie Chitwood died in 1988, aged 75, in Tampa Bay, Florida.
He was inducted in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1993. He was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2010 in the Historic category.
About the Video
Originally a public domain film from the Library of Congress Prelinger Archives, the video has been slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and one-pass brightness-contrast-color correction & mild video noise reduction applied. Wikipedia (License)
The soundtrack was processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).