Thursday, August 29, 2013

August 29, 1959 - Lee Petty Cruises in Columbia

August 29, 1959: Lee Petty wins a 200-lap, 100-mile Grand National race on the half-mile Columbia Speedway in South Carolina. The race line-up wasn't exactly a who's who of NASCAR as only thirteen cars started the race.

In Perry Allen Wood's book, Silent Speedways of the Carolinas, he seemed to write about the race with a shoulder shrug of resignation that it wasn't the top showing by a NASCAR field.
The steamy Saturday night found the smallest field that would ever race at Columbia Speedway on hand for its third major race of '59. Of that Buck Baker's dozen, eight were zipper tops, which also ran the convertible circuit. That dinosaur of a tour concluded is fourth and final season the Sunday before... Combined with the fact that the Southern 500 was coming up in nine days, it made sense to convert the old ragtops to hardtops, the zipper tops, and use them instead of their good stuff. Even so, it seems odd that there were so few running that night... They drew for the pole and Ned [Jarrett]'s lucky streak continued as he literally grabbed the pole. The attrition on the tired iron took a heavy toll as a variety of mechanical ills depleted the field and Lee with usual top-notch equipment won handily. ~ p. 52
But Bob Talbert from Columbia's newspaper, The State, had a different slant when reporting on the race in the moment. In reading Talbert's recap of the night's events - heavy rains, a flu epidemic, and a tragic roaring pit fire - one might think the race should have been named the Pestilence & Famine 200.

Source: The (Columbia) State (HT to Gamecock43)


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