Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11, 1959 - Lee Petty Wins At Hickory


... and Never Forget. Ever.

September 11, 1959: Starting 13th in a 14-car field, Lee Petty rallies to win the Buddy Shuman 250 on the .4-mile, dirt Hickory Speedway in North Carolina.

Even though Richard Petty had begun his driving career, he did not enter the Hickory event. And with no convertible series race scheduled the same day, its likely Richard was in his usual place - helping pit his dad's car.

Source: Spartanburg Herald Journal via Google News Archive
For reasons unknown to me, starting positions were drawn rather then determined by qualifying. In researching Hickory's weather history, it doesn't seem any rain fell to disrupt and delay things. Also, no NASCAR races were scheduled the day before or after the Hickory race. But something likely cancelled qualifying and delayed the race because no newspaper article could be found for the race. My hunch is the race started and ended late - after the filing deadline for any articles that could have been published in the Saturday, September 12 editions.

Greg Fielden writes in Forty Years of Stock Car Racing - Volume 2:
Lee Petty took the lead when suspension troubles sidetracked Jack Smith and won the 100-mile race at Hickory Speedway. It was Petty's eighth win of the 1959 season.

Jack Smith had gotten around early leader Junior Johnson and was setting the pace when a lower A-frame broke on his Chevrolet. Petty's Plymouth took charge and beat runner-up Buck Baker by more than one lap. Rex White finished third. Johnson was fourth and Brownie King fifth.

Since no time trials were  held, Petty had to come from 13th starting spot in the slim 14-car field. R.L. Combs won the pole position in a blind draw, with Johnson starting second. Johnson, driving the Wood Brothers Ford, led in the early going before dropping off the pace.

Petty averaged 63.380 mph for his 45th career win. ~ pp. 43-44
Starting seventh and finishing ninth was Fuzzy Clifton. Fuzzy made his one and only career Grand National start in this race. He ran several modified and sportsman races throughout the 1950s. But with a nickname like Fuzzy, its a shame he didn't get to run more in the top-level series.


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