The 1950 season was the second season of Big Bill's experiment with the "Strickly Stock Division. That Division had competed in 8 events in the 1949 season and everyone considered it a resounding success. So, on this date in 1950, the 10th race of the 1950 Strickly Stock season was set for Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsborough, NC. Occoneechee was a 1 mile dirt track with virtually flat turns. There was a "bump" going into turn one which, I understand, was a huge boulder under the dirt that either couldn't be moved, or was too costly to try to move. Drivers who ran there have told me that if you didn't hit that boulder just right, you were sure to lose positions trying to regain control of your car. Let's go back to Occoneechee for the 100 mile race to be contested on this awesome track.
Twenty-seven cars would start the event with Dick Lindler in an Oldsmobile on the pole. Curtis Turner would start second in another Oldsmobile. The only other starting position available in my reference (Greg Fielden's "Forty Years of Stock Car Racing") is postion 15 which went to a 21 year old Fireball Roberts starting his third Grand National (now Cup) event in a Sam Rice Oldsmobile.
Curtis Turner moved into the lead at the drop of the flag and would lead the first 45 laps. The two races previous to this event had been Turner's all the way with him leading start to finish in both events, a 150 miler on Charlotte's 3/4 mile track and a 100 miler on a half-mile dirt track in Rochester, NY. It was a flat tire that cost him the lead at Occoneechee as he headed for the pits on lap 45 of 100. This would end his leading ways at 445 consecutive laps in Grand National racing.
Pee Wee Martin would lead laps 46 through 57 before the young Roberts would move out front, not to be passed again. Curtis Turner was literally melting that dirt track in a bid to recover his lead but time ran out when Fireball took the checkered flag for his first Grand National win.
In qualifying for the race, Lloyd Moore, who was second in points behind Turner, flipped his Mercury three times and was taken to the hospital with a neck injury. During the race, Sterling Long wrecked his Hudson in a spectacular series of flips but climbed from the destroyed car unhurt.
Almost anyone reading this Minute knows the legacy left to the sport by Glenn "Fireball"Roberts. I know most references always put Fireball in quotation marks, but I ceased doing that long ago. It was baseball that earned him the nickname Fireball, but it was his performance on the race tracks that gave the nickname Fireball the special meaning it has for so many. It is so right that he is being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame this coming January. And the wins started at Occoneechee!
Top five finishers were:
1. Fireball Roberts, Sam Rice Oldsmobile, winning $1,125.00
2. Curtis Turner, Eanes Motor Company Oldsmobile, winning $750.00
3. Dick Linder, Oldsmobile, winning $500.00
4. Bill Rexford, Julian Beusink Oldsmobile, winning $400.00
5. Clyde Minter, Mercury, winning $300.00
Sixth through tenth were Gene Austin, Lee Petty, Herb Thomas, Chuck Mahoney and Johnny Mantz. Marshall Teague would finish 17th, Jimmy Lewallen 21st,Glenn Dunaway 24th and Bill Blair 27th.
I would remind folks that the Annual Celebration of the Automobile will take place at the Occoneechee Speedway on September 28th of this year. Many of the pioneers of NASCAR will be there as will many, many vintage cars. When they put the cars on the track for what are supposed to be "parade laps" it inevitablyleads to a mini-race breaking out. I have attended this event for the past four years and it is one event that makes it on my calendar every year. You can check out the events calendar here on RacersReunion for more information. You owe it to yourself to make the trip to the event!
Honor the past, embrace the present, dream for the future
updated by @tim-leeming: 12/05/16 04:00:58PM