Friday, June 28, 2013

June 28, 1958 - Lee Petty Horse Collars Hickory

June 28, 1958:  Starting ninth, Lee Petty wins the Buddy Shuman 250, a 250-lap, 100-mile race at Hickory Speedway in Hickory, NC. Records weren't maintained about lap leaders, so its unclear how much of the race Lee led.

Greg Fielden writes in Forty Years of Stock Car Racing - Vol. 1:
Lee Petty pushed his Oldsmobile across the finish line a single car length ahead of Junior Johnson to win the 100-mile race at Hickory Speedway. Speedy Thompson came in third, right on Johnson's bumper ... Officials were forced to wave the red flag in the 25th lap when heavy dust conditions made driving unsafe. After utility trucks toured the .4-mile oval for 15 minutes, the the race was restarted. ~ p. 309
Julian Petty, Lee's brother, fielded three cars for the race. In what must have been a genuine facepalm race, none of the three had quality finishes. Possum Jones, Bob Welborn, and Ken Rush finished 19th, 27th, and 29, respectively, in the 31-car field.

Buddy Shuman was a pioneer of NASCAR's early years. He was among the few dozen individuals invited to the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach, FL by Bill France Sr. in 1947. The meeting resulted in the formation of NASCAR. In an abbreviated career, he won once in a 29-race Grand National career. His one victory came in the first of only two GN / Cup races outside of the United States - a 1952 win near Niagara Falls on the Canadian side of the border. (Coincidentally, Lee Petty won the second, non-US race at Toronto in 1959 in which Richard Petty made his first Grand National start.)

Sadly, Shuman perished from smoke inhalation in a hotel room fire at the age of 40 in 1955. Hickory Speedway honored Shuman's legacy by renaming one of its annual Grand National races the Buddy Shuman 250. The name was continued from 1956 through the final Grand National race run at Hickory in 1971.

NASCAR also established the Buddy Shuman Award to be presented annually for "outstanding contributions and loyalty to automobile racing." Past winners of the award include:
  • Herb Thomas
  • ESPN
  • Dr. Jerry Punch
  • Dick Beaty, longtime NASCAR inspector
  • TV and radio announcer Ken Squier
  • Richard Petty 
  • John Holman (of famed Ford car builders Holman & Moody)
  • Bob Bahre, founder of what is now New Hampshire Motor Speedway
  • Dr. Joe Mattioli, founder of Pocono Raceway
  • Bud Moore
  • Smokey Yunick
  • Lee Petty
  • Goodyear
  • Benny Phillips, longtime writer for High Point Enterprise
  • Richard Childress
Source: Spartanburg Herald via Google News Archive
While many of the Grand National drivers were racing in Hickory Saturday night, one of NASCAR's true characters - Curtis Turner - was in Charlotte filing a police report on Saturday morning.While this news clipping is short on details, Curtis' reputation for hard partying makes this news long on speculation and laughter.

Source: Spartanburg Herald via Google News Archive
 Hickory Motor Speedway still operates today with a regular slate of local, late model racing. The track can be found on the web and on Twitter.


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