Saturday, October 5, 2013

October 5, 1958 - Lee Petty Stakes Claim to Salisbury

October 5, 1958: Lee Petty wins a 160-lap, 100-mile race on the .625-mile, dirt Salisbury Super Speedway in in Salisbury, NC. The promoter of the race way back then is still well known to contemporary race fans: O. Bruton Smith, CEO of Speedway Motorsports, Inc.

As an aside, one of our Schaefer Beer Hall of Famers bears a strong resemblance to Smith. Accordingly, he earned his member nickname Bruton.

But I digress.

Gober Sosebee won the pole for the Salisbury race. The rest of the starting line-up and the race's lap leaders, however, were apparently not documented. Or if they were, someone forgot to hold onto the paperwork. Lee's son, Richard, entered the race in car number...2. It was his seventh career Grand National race.

Credit: Salisbury Post
In Silent Speedways of the Carolinas, author Perry Allen Wood notes:
...Atlanta's old 'shine-runner Gober Sosebee put his black Cherokee Garage 1957 Chevy 50 on the pole... The green fell on Sosebee and 20 others around 3:30 that afternoon and almost 1 hour and 43 minutes later, Lee Petty completed the scheduled 160 circuits first in a '57 Oldsmobile with Buck Baker the only man on the same lap. It clinched the 1958 Grand National Championship for Petty over Baker, the Randleman veteran's second of three... Third was [Cotton] Owens, fourth George Dunn, and fifth [Roy] Tyner... Richard Petty made fifty fish for swimming home in 22nd place, only 23 laps behind in his father's '57 Olds #2. He had used two other numbers so far, he had not hit on 43 yet. ~ p. 132
Source: Spartanburg Herald via Google News Archive
NASCAR's history at Salisbury was short-lived. The track hosted only two major NASCAR-sanctioned races: a September 1958 convertible race won by Bob Welborn and the October 1958 Grand National race won by Lee Petty. Interestingly, Welborn's car was fielded by Lee's brother, Julian Petty. Richard was one of several drivers who ran in both races (though Lee and Welborn raced only in their respective events.)

The Salisbury Post published a lengthy article in September 2011 about the history of the speedway and even a short recap of Lee's win in the 1958 GN event.


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