Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March 27, 1960 - Lee Petty is Wilkesboro Winner

1960 - Racing his #42 Petty Blue Plymouth, Lee Petty wins the disputed Gwyn Staley 160 at North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Carolina. Son Richard lost an engine and sunk from his fourth starting spot to 18th in the the finishing order.

In Greg Fielden's book Forty Years of Stock Car Racing - Vol. 1, he writes:
Lee Petty spun Junior Johnson from the lead with 14 laps to go and won the 100-miler at the .625 mile paved oval. The 45 year-old Randleman, NC pilot faced his toughest challenge immediately after the finish of the 160 lapper when Johnson supporters pelted the three-time champion with rocks, bottles and items that fit all descriptions.

Most of the 9,200 spectators who attended the race in the Carolina mountains ... were incensed when Petty shoved leader Johnson into the guard rail in the closing stages. The winner grabbed the microphone and pleaded his case with the huge throng, only to be pelted again with miscellaneous debris amid a roar of jeers.

Rex White finished second and later remarked, "Something's got to be done. The Old Man (Lee Petty) is getting rougher and rougher. If this sort of thing keeps up, there is going to be a lot of equipment torn up and some drivers badly hurt."... The victory was Petty's 49th of his career, making him the Grand National all-time leader, passing the retired Herb Thomas. ~ p. 62
Hmm... late race spins of the leader? Discontent by the fans? Mea Culpas by the offending drivers? Where have I have heard that before? Oh yeah!

It's called That's Racin' folks!

Source: Daytona Beach Morning Journal via Google News Archive

Saturday, March 16, 2013

March 16, 1958 - Lee Petty Wins Wilson

March 16, 1958 - Driving a number 42 Oldsmobile, Lee Petty wins a 200-lap, 100-mile race on the half-mile Wilson Speedway dirt track in Wilson NC.

In his book Silent Speedways of the Carolinas, Perry Allen Wood writes:
Sunday, March 16, 1958, dawned and the Grand Nationals went at it for the second time in 24 hours.  The day before, [Curtis] Turner won a 150-lapper at Fayetteville. This time Turner found himself on the outside of the front row next to [Marvin] Panch. Turner jumped out front for a lap before Pancho took over for the following 72. The Roanoke Rumrunner retook the point until lap 150 when a sickening snap signified his drive shaft was shot and his day was done. Lee Petty soft-pedaled his Olds to an easy four-lap win over Baker's Chevy. ... A slim crowd of only 2,300 saw the Petty romp. ~ p. 163 
Source: Spartanburg Herald-Journal via Google News Archive 
Lee's victory was a double win for Petty Engineering. On the same day, Billy Myers dominated a NASCAR convertible series race in North Wilkesboro driving a number 42 Petty Olds ragtop. Myers led 123 laps of the 160-lap race. Coincidentally, the remaining 37 laps were led by Gwyn Staley who was driving a Chevy convertible for Julian Petty, Lee's brother and Richard's uncle.

Photo courtesy of Billy's son, Randy Myers at
Source: Spartanburg Herald-Journal via Google News Archive

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

March 6, 1955 - Lee Petty Savors Savannah

March 6, 1955: Driving a #42 Chrysler, Lee Petty wins a 200-lap, 100-mile race at Oglethorpe Speedway in Savannah, GA. The race is the second of only two Grand National races sanctioned at the speedway. (The other was a year earlier in 1954 and won by Al Keller.)

Oglethorpe continues to operate today though it is no longer sanctioned by NASCAR for its local events.

Greg Fielden recapped the race in his book, Forty Years of Stock Car Racing - Vol. 1:
Lee Petty continued his hot pace by trouncing the field in the 100-mile Grand National race at Oglethorpe Speedway. Petty's Chrysler New Yorker wound up four full laps ahead of runner-up Don White... Dick Rathman, leader of the first 54 laps after winning his third pole of the young 1955 season, fell to third in the final order, six laps behind the fleet Petty... Petty's third win of the season moved him into a solid 234 point lead, but it was White who captured the hearts of the 3,750 spectators. The slightly built Keokuk, IA driver was forced to overcome a four lap pit stop midway in the race. After rejoining the fray, White was as quick or quicker than eventual winner Petty.

Source: Daytona Beach Morning Journal via Google News Archive

Saturday, March 2, 2013

March 2, 1958 - Lee Petty Challenges Curtis in Concord

March 2, 1958:  Lee Petty wins a 200-lap, 100-mile race at Concord Speedway in Concord, NC. Or did he?

In his book Full Throttle: The Life and Fast Times of NASCAR Legend Curtis Turner, Robert Edelstein writes:
... [Turner] starts 1958 driving mostly Grand National races for Holman-Moody. In the first six races he runs in the premier series, he wins twice but there are about twelve thousand fans in Concord, North Carolina who believe he's won three times. The hundred-mile race there in March ends in controversy as Turner takes the checkered flag only to lose four days later when a complaining Lee Petty claims he's won, and presents his wife Elizabeth's scorecards as evidence. After days of studying the cards, Petty is declared the victor, even though Turner had seemed to lead every lap. "That Mama Elizabeth," he says, "has the fastest pencil in NASCAR." ~ p. 114
Fans, Turner, and the press left the track believing Turner had indeed won the race. 

Source: Spartanburg Herald-Journal via Google News Archive
Four days later, however, NASCAR modified the finishing order of the race and declared Petty as the winner.

Source: Daytona Beach Morning Journal via Google News Archive