Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July 10, 1960 - Pettys Pull A Heidelberg Heist

July 10, 1960: Starting from the pole position, Lee Petty dusted the field to win the final NASCAR Grand National race at Heidelberg Raceway near Pittsburgh, PA. Lee finished three laps ahead of second place, son Richard Petty.

Lee likely had a certain fondness for Heidelberg. Four Grand National races were held at the track, and Lee won two of them - the first one and the last one. Also, Lee's win in the first race at Heidelberg on October 2, 1949, also happened to be his first career GN win.

The field approaches the green. Pole-winner, Lee Petty, flanked by Ned Jarrett. Rex White and the future King on row two.

Thanks to many on Pinterest
The race on the half-mile, dirt track was scheduled for 200 laps and 100 miles. Fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett started alongside Lee and led the first 19 laps. But Ned lost an engine in his Ford [insert joke here Ford haters], and he finished 16th in the 17-car field. Lee took over the top spot and led the rest of the way. Rain was the only thing preventing Lee from leading the rest of the 200 laps. Heavy showers moved in, the race was ended 12 laps short of its scheduled finish, and Lee was flagged as the winner.

As best I can tell, the Lee-Richard, 1-2 finish was only the second time in Grand National history for a father and son to sweep the top two spots. The Pettys were also the first to do it at Lakewood Speedway in June 1959. This unique scenario would not be repeated again until February 1988 when son Davey Allison finished second to his father, Bobby, in the Daytona 500.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via Google News Archive
Hot tamale! How about those socks and sneakers on Miss Heidelberg (or whatever her title may have been)? Eat your heart out Miss Sprint Cup.

Source: Pittsburgh Press via Google News Archive (nav to p. 98)
Lee won just one more race after Heidelberg in 1960. He scored his 54th and final victory at Speedway Park in Jacksonville on November 20, 1960. About three months later, Lee's career was all but ended (and almost his life) in a horrific wreck with Johnny Beachamp in a 100-mile qualifying race at Daytona.

Although the last of the four Grand National races was held in 1960, the track continued to operate until 1973. In 2012, an historical marker was erected to memorialize the location and history of the track.

TMC

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