Sunday, May 5, 2013

May 5, 1963 - Jim Paschal Rumbles in Randleman

May 5, 1963: Starting third, Jim Paschal wins at Tar Heel Speedway in Randleman, NC. The speedway only hosted three NASCAR Grand National races - all in the 1963 season. Petty cars won all three of them - two by Paschal and one by Richard Petty.

In the second of the three races run and won by Petty cars, Paschal raced a #43 Petty Plymouth. While the concept of a driver other than Richard Petty winning in 43 may seem odd, it was most likely a team strategy. The Petty team often fielded multiple cars throughout the early 1960s, and Richard was generally given the pick of the litter. He likely believed the team's #41 Plymouth was the right choice - especially since Paschal won at Tar Heel in the car a few months earlier in the season. Early returns suggested he was headed in the right direction as he qualified second. But a faulty fuel pump relegated Petty to 13th in the 15-car field - the last car still running - while Paschal took the checkers in the 43.

Perry Allen Wood in his book Silent Speedways of the Carolinas recaps the race as follows:
... race 22 of the '63 campaign was held at Tar Heel and Richard Petty, being the clever guy that he is, swapped cars with Paschal for this one, not to be fooled twice in his own sandbox. There were only 15 entries and the top two were the same as before. It was deja vu all over again as Jim Paschal decided to lay back and watch [Ned] Jarrett pace the field for the opening 130 laps until he had a flat a la Glen Wood in the Turkey Day 200 six months earlier. Paschal inherited the lead according to plan as Ned lost a mile getting fresh rubber. High Point's Paschal cruised away, taking 43 to his second win in a row at Tar Heel and sixth straight on the season for Petty Plymouth... Richard's brilliant car switch backfired as he finished the last man running 13th, 20 laps behind after a fuel pump was replaced. 
Fellow Schaefer HOFer Philly and I made the trip to Randleman to see the remnants of Tar Heel Speedway in May 2012. We arrived and got ... close. Yet, we were so far away. Its obvious why Petty Enterprises wanted to succeed - and did - at Tar Heel. The track was only about 2.5 miles from the Petty team shop.

Source: The Times-News via Google News Archive
Defending Grand National champion (and eventual 1963 champ), Joe Weatherly, finished second in the race in a car owned by Cliff Stewart. The race was also promoted by Stewart. About two decades later, Stewart fielded cars for drivers such as Morgan Shepherd, Geoff Bodine...

Photo courtesy of Keith Koether
... and Rusty Wallace.


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