Monday, May 11, 2015

May 11, 1958 - Bob Welborn Wins Greensboro

Greensboro Speedway in North Carolina hosted only three Grand National races. Paul Goldsmith and Buck Baker won the first two in 1957. The final one was run on May 11, 1958.

Source: Greensboro Daily News
A year earlier, the track was the site of an epic yet apparently (mostly) true story involving driver Tiny Lund and the full Petty family. Many times legendary motorsports beat writer Tom Higgins has told and written about the turn of events that took place before the start of the April 1957 race including in this column he wrote for the Charlotte Observer.
Lund had driven five races for the Petty team in 1957, and the association ended bitterly.

Prior to a race in Greensboro, a flatbed from a trailer truck was being used as a stage for driver introductions. So happened that [Lee] Petty and Lund were starting in fairly close proximity, so they passed on the stage.

An obviously disparaging remark was made, and knuckles started flying.

"The deal was, Tiny and Daddy had a falling out," said Richard Petty. "To spite Daddy, Tiny was telling the other teams about some special, secret things we did to our cars. Daddy confronted him about it, and they went to it right there in front of everybody. I think Daddy took the first swing."

"Tiny" was a joke of a nickname for Lund. He stood 6'5" and weighed between 250 and 275 pounds.

Lee Petty stood 6'3" and weighed about 175.

"Daddy and Tiny scuffled onto the deck of that flatbed, and he was whipping Daddy pretty bad. Me and my brother Maurice, both still teenagers, jumped in to try and help Daddy. Well, Tiny was whupping all three of us.

"This is when my mother got involved. She came on that stage and started pummeling Tiny in the head with her purse. She was raising pump knots on poor ol' Tiny.

"The reason is, she had a .38 caliber pistol in that purse!"
Back to 1958's edition - where I'm sure some fans arrived earlier than usual just in case a fracas erupted again.

Greensboro's local feller, Bob Welborn, qualified in the top spot in a #44 1957 Chevrolet. Sources I've checked suggest Julian Petty was Welborn's car owner of record; however, I'm not entirely convinced of that stat.

Throughout 1958 (and for much of the rest of his career), Welborn raced car #49. Recent NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Rex White made 16 GN starts in car #44 in 1958. Some records indicate White made most of those starts in Julian Petty's cars. In speaking with White in October 2014, however, he insisted he never raced for Petty. Max Welborn, Bob's brother, fielded GN cars in that era - some numbered #44.

Bob Welborn raced full-time in 1958 with Julian in the convertible division, but they raced only part-time in the GN series. The day before the Greensboro race, Welborn finished 6th in the Rebel 300 convertible race at Darlington. With Greensboro being only one day later and a "hometown" track for Welborn, I'm thinking Bob may have hitched a ride in his brother's car as Julian took the ragtop home to tweak it for its next event.

Regarding the race itself, Perry Allen Wood noted in Silent Speedways of the Carolinas:
They dropped the curtain on the little dirt track on Sunday afternoon, May 11, 1958. A gorgeous day saw 19 entries take the spring green for a quick 150-lap, 50-mile war. Hometowner Welborn, at the peak of his career, went wire-to-wire winning handily over [Lee] Petty, [Junior] Johnson, [Speedy] Thompson and Doug Cox. The event took just over 65 minutes, then Greensboro's speedway slipped into the misty memory of how it was. ~ p. 239

Source: Greensboro Daily News


  1. Cool read dude. The more I read about Welborn the more I'm impressed with him and I never get tired of reading The King's account of the fight between Tiny Lund and the Pettys.

  2. The headline writers were definitely more creative in the golden era of stock car racing. "Assault" in a racing headline today would have you wondering what Kurt Busch had done this week.