Thursday, September 15, 2011

September 15 - This day in Petty history - part 2

1968 - Richard scores his 88th career victory by winning from the pole in the Hillsboro 150 at Orange Speedway in Hillsboro NC as the legendary Curtis Turner makes his final Grand National start.

Orange Speedway was originally known as Occoneechee Speedway. Say it with me now: Oh-Ko-Knee-Chee. Also, I've seen the town where the track was located spelled as Hillsboro and Hillsborough. The speedway was a 9/10 mile dirt track and was one of the original tracks sanctioned by NASCAR for its Grand National series.

Courtesy of Chris Hussey
As the series experienced growing pains from the late 60s through the early 70s, Orange Speedway disappeared from the schedule as another superspeedway - Talladega - opened in 1969. However, a group of committed fans and former racers have labored hard to keep the memories of the speedway alive with the formation of the Historic Speedway Group.

In his book, Silent Speedways of the Carolinas, author and fellow member Perry Allen Wood writes:
When the green sent the boys on that last journey, Petty led (David) Pearson and the others for 74 laps. With some spine-tingling, door-to-door banging, Pearson led for 11 laps before they swapped it a couple of more times. In the meantime, (Buddy) Baker made only five laps before losing the drive shaft and on lap 116, Curtis Turner rolled into the dusty pits with a blown engine. Four laps later, Pearson parked it, and after 11 more (Bobby) Isaac hung it up. Even (G.C.) Spencer conked out. and Petty coasted to a yawner of a seven-lap victory... (p. 122)
Photo courtesy of Ray Lamm
Photo and article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire

Edited September 15, 2014

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