This is the first of what I hope will become a daily series for awhile, going back into the history book (literally Greg Fielden's 40 Years of Stock Car Racing) and some things from my personal memory if I happened to attend a certain event. Comments and suggestions always welcomed.
Our first adventure in the "way back machine" takes us back to a .75 mile dirt track in Charlotte, North Carolina, on a coolist April afternoon on April 5, 1953. This was the fifth race for the Grand National cars in the 1953 season.
Tim Flock put his '53 Hudson on the pole for the 112.5 mile race with Dick Rathman,in another Hudson starting along side. The race was more or less dominated by the super-talented Tim Flock and the Hudson as he led 87 of the 125 laps before his Hudson started to lose power with 25 laps left. Even with the Flock dominance, there were 18 lead changes among 6 drivers which is noted at the time as "the most lead changes in NASCAR history". Wow. Imagine that.
With the Flock Hudson losing power with 25 laps remaining, Dick Rathman took over the point. He led for four laps before Herb Thomas, bidding for his third consecutive win of the season took over top spot. Alas, Herb's Hudson experienced clutch failure on lap 134 and he watched the rest of the race from the pits.
With Thomas' departure, a rookie from West Virginia, Pop McGinnis, (and I have a personal story about Pop much later in his life). Three laps to go and Pop's Hudson sputtered for gas and he had to relinquish the lead to hit the pits for fuel. McGinnis lost the lead to Dick Passwater driving an Oldsmobile and Passwater was able to hold on to win by a quarter lap over Gober Sosesbee. This was only Passwater's tenth start in a NASCAR Grand National Race.
Top five finishers were:
1. Dick Passwater, Oldsmobile, winning $1,000.00
2. Gober Sosebee, Oldsmobile, winning $700.00
3. Herschel Buchanan, Nash, winning $450.00
4. Tim Flock, Hudson, winning $350.00
5. Pop McGinnis, Hudon, winning $200.00
Other participants of note were Lee Petty 11th, Herb Thomas 12th, Dick Rathman 13th, Buck Baker 14th, BILL BLAIR 16th, JIMMY LEWALLEN18th, Jim Paschal 21st, Curtis Turner 24th, and Fonty Flock 25th. The capitalization of Bill Blair and Jimmy Lewallen is intentional as both of those heroic pioneers in the sport have sons involved in the RacersReunion site and both are very good friends of mine and I am allowed that liberty. After all, this is MY project!!!!
An interesting note to this race is the mention that there was an accident just past halfway which put the Hudson of Gene Comstock into a series of side over side flips and the car finally went through the fence and into a spectator area. The story told is that the car ended up on top of two spectators but was quickly overturned by the crowd and the spectators freed. It is noted that both spectators were taken to the hospital but were expected to fully recover from "minor" injuries. That somewhat surprised me as those Hudsons were some heavy cars.
I, of course, was not at this race as I was not quite 7 years old at the time. I have talked to my Uncle Bobby about the race (he is the one who got me involved with racing when I was five) and he doesn't recall going either although I have suspicions that he went to so many races he can't recall each one. I do know that, thanks to Uncle Bobby, I got to see those Hudson Hornets race and the memories of those cars literally seeming to "float" around a dirt track often come to mind as I think back to the early days.
Well, folks, time to come back to the present day. Thanks for reading. It was fun for me to travel back in time for this visit to 60 years ago. I hope some of you will add your personal memories to this post.
updated by @tim-leeming: 12/05/16 04:02:57PM