Tuesday, February 28, 2012

February 28 - This day in Petty history

1960 - Richard Petty wins his first career Grand National race in a 200-lap event at Southern States Fairgrounds Speedway in Charlotte, NC.

Petty made his first Grand National start in 1958 and won a convertible series race at Columbia Speedway in 1959. His victory at Charlotte, however, was his first of 200 Grand National / Winston Cup wins.

The half-mile dirt oval was clearly not the same track as the 1-1/2 mile paved Charlotte Motor Speedway - though their histories did overlap a bit. Seventeen Grand National races were held at the fairgrounds track, and Petty's win was in the next-to-last race held there. Charlotte Motor Speedway opened in 1960 with the inaugural World 600, and its evolved into arguably the top showcase track of the NASCAR circuit.

Lee Petty started on the pole, and Richard started seventh. Lee completed only 38 laps and finished 20th in the 21-car field as Richard went on to claim the win.

I haven't been able to land an article, program, ticket stub, etc. from the race. During my visit to the Richard Petty Museum in March 2010, however, I found a photo from the race on display.

Former Petty Enterprises crewman and fellow Racers Reunion member Billy Biscoe noted:
A li'l more history to this car. It was one out of the Petty stables and was a Lee Petty hand me down that had of all things 2'' square tubing for a roll cage. It later had a removable roof so that it could be raced in the convertible division. Richard would drive it in the convertible races - then overnight the crew would bolt the roof back on and Jim Paschal would drive it as a Grand National.
The following article includes some of Richard's memories from his first win back in 1960 - after he won his 200th and final race in 1984.

Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire

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