Sunday, April 5, 2015

April 5, 1958 - Welborn Wins Fayetteville

The 1958 NASCAR Grand National season began in November 1957 with a race at the 1/3 mile Champion Speedway in Fayetteville, NC. Interestingly, two of the next six races were also scheduled at the track.

Gwyn Staley - whose brother Enoch owned and operated North Wilkesboro Speedway - ran his final career Grand National race at Champion on March 15, 1958 - the second of the three races. Eight days later on March 23, he entered a NASCAR convertible division race at Richmond. He flipped on the first lap and was tragically killed. His car owner for both races was Julian Petty.

Two-time NASCAR convertible division champion Bob Welborn finished 8th in the March Fayetteville race in a second #49 Chevrolet for Julian. Following Staley's death, he became the sole driver. On April 5, 1958, Welborn raced Julian's #38 Chevrolet - likely the same car Staley had driven to a 2nd place finish at Fayetteville a month earlier.

Julian's brother got the initial upper hand. Lee Petty qualified quickest in his Oldsmobile to win the pole. Welborn had to settle for second and on the front row with Lee.

At the drop of the green, Lee set sail and led the first 24 laps of the 150-lap race. Eleventh-place starter Buck Baker was effective in moving towards the front, and he went after Lee for the lead. The two NASCAR Hall of Famers banged fenders as each wanted the lead. Lee got the roughest of the duel as he broke an axle. He dropped from the lead on lap 25 and then out of the race two laps later.

Baker showed the way for the next 52 laps. As the race reached half-way, however, Baker couldn't hold the lead. Welborn passed Baker, and the #38 Chevy led the rest of the way. Perry Allen Wood recapped the race in his book Silent Speedways of the Carolinas:
This third visit of the young season to Champion saw 29 speed demons take the green with Bob Welborn...climbing into Julian Petty's Chevy... As if weird things do not happen often enough, in this, the first race since Staley's death, Welborn won in Staley's old car. And guess who was flailing away at his back bumper? Frankie Schneider, the man that punched Staley's ticket to the hereafter at Richmond a fortnight earlier! ~ p. 191
Source: Greensboro Daily News


  1. Gwyn Staley's 1958 death at Richmond in Julian Petty's convertible is the only fatality to date at that venue since racing began on the site in 1946.

  2. Great read as usual dude. Perry Allen Wood (or someone) wrote in a pretty blunt fashion huh?