Challenged by the director of an action film to flip a speeding car upside down on a beach, Hal Needham welded a canon (nose down) behind the front seat, loaded the canon with explosives, jammed a full length telephone pole into
the cannon, wondered idly what could possibly go wrong, and rolled.

That’s the sort of guy Hal Needham is.

In the resulting crash, Needham broke many bones and collapsed his lungs.

You might wonder what this sort of adventure has to do with sports. I ask Mr. Needham about that, and he assured me that all the best stunt men have been superb athletes. He told me that stunt men, like athletes, have to play hurt sometimes, and they often don’t tell their employers about their injuries.

For a decade or so beginning in 1981, Mr. Needham owned a NASCAR team. That might strike a lot of sports fans as an exciting endeavor, but to Mr. Needham it probably seemed tame. Before his NASCAR days, he equipped a car with a sidewinder missile so that it would travel fast enough to break the sound barrier.

Hal Needham has some great stories to tell. I, for one, am very happy that he’s alive to tell them.