Saturday, June 29, 2013

June 29, 1957 - Lee Petty Scores in Spartanburg

June 29, 1957: Starting from the pole, Lee Petty wins at Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds in Spartanburg SC. The race - the third Grand National event at Columbia in 1957 - was ended 13 laps short of its scheduled 200-lap distance.

In his book, Silent Speedways of the Carolinas, Perry Allen Wood writes:
Earlier in the month, the factories pulled out due to bad publicity and outside pressure. Gone were the big Detroit dollars, but the big names were still around, fueled by deal money from NASCAR and promoters, under-the-table bucks from factories and vendors, and funds raided from piggy banks and mattresses all over the country. Twenty-two stockers lined up and saw a whale of a show for 187 laps. Bud Moore had two Chevrolets out front with 13 laps to go when leader Buck Baker and teammate Speedy Thompson dueled neck and neck into that high board fence outside the first turn that gets blasted almost every race. The red flag flew to clean up two demolished '57 Chevrolets, lots of whitewashed kindling, and put Bud in a straight jacket after seeing his personal hometown sweep vanish in a cloud of dust and splinters. They hit it at about 11:30 PM and there was no time to make repairs and finish the 200-lapper before the Sunday morning curfew. In 1957, there was no racing in the Palmetto State on the Sabbath. Official declared [Lee] Petty the winner, even though Baker led the last lap completed. Petty was parked before the finish line and never completed the 188th lap, but was declared the winner anyway, his third at the Fairgrounds. ~ p. 9
So as was often the case throughout Petty's career, another Lee victory ... and another controversy. In the end, however, Lee still went home with the trophy. The win was certainly a relief to the Petty team, because 26 races were needed before he notched his first victory of the 1957 season.

Source: Spartanburg Herald-Journal via Google News Archive (nav to p. 7)

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