Here in Columbia, SC, where I reside, it has rained every day this summer it seems. Although that's not an "official statement" from the weather service, most of us know that hardly a 24 hour period has passed since the first of June that we haven't had at least one downpour. Yesterday morning, during church, the sun came out for the first time in three days and I think the congregation actually stiffened in shock expecting the Second Coming at that very moment. So, with all that rainy weather, why would I choose to go Convertible Racing this morning? Well, the simple answer is there are very few events from which to choose for this date and one was at Columbia Speedway, which I just did yesterday, and the other was a Petty victory which I leave to TMC Chase to cover. Sort of an agreement TMC and I have.
Today we will travel to Heidelberg Raceway located in a City of the same name in the State of Pennsylvania. A 100 mile/200 lap convertible event was run on the half-mile dirt track there on this date in 1956. Joe Weatherly, in the feared Pete DePaolo Ford parked the ride on the pole with Gwyn Staley in a Chevrolet to his outside. Curtis Turner would start third in another DePaolo Ford and Glen Wood took fourth starting position in a Ford. Jimmy Massey started a Chevrolet in fifth.
The race was Joe Weatherley's from the start as he led all 200 laps. However, just after halfway, Danny Letner, who had started 10th in a Dodge found himself chasing down the Clown Prince of Racing. With 15 laps to go in the race, Letner caught Weatherly and a battle ensued that brought the crowd to its feet. For four laps, the two battled side-by-side, rubbing and bumping, with Letner actually putting a fender out front several times but never at the line where it counted. With three laps to go, Weatherly and Letner tangled when Letner dove to the inside to pass and Letner's fender was pushed into the right front tire causing him to head for the pits. By the time it was over, Letner was credited with third place, three laps down. Those 10 laps had been some of the best racing Heidelberg fans had ever witnessed.
Bob Welborn, who came into the event as the series points leader, fell out on lap 158 with a failed wheel bearing. When the race was over, Welborn had a 280 point advantage over Larry Odo who finished 8th,and 592 points over Curtis Turner who had parkedh is Ford on lap 59 with fuel pump issues.
Top five finishers were:
1. Joe Weatherly, Pete DePaolo Ford, winning $650.00
2. Gwyn Staley, Hubert Westmoreland Chevrolet, winning $525.00
3. Danny Letner, Tom Harbison Dodge, winning $400.00
4. Jimmie Lewallen, Welborn Chevrolet, winning $320.00
5. Glen Wood, Wood Brothers Ford, winning $290.00
Sixth through tenth were Possum Jones, Don Oldenberg, Larry Odo, Bill Brown, and Bill Poor. Mel Larson finished 11th, Dick Joslin 12th, Jimmy Massey 13th, Bob Welborn 14th, Curtis Turner 19th, and Tom Pistone 20th. Twenty-two cars started the race.
Honor the past, embrace the present, dream for the future.
updated by @tim-leeming: 12/05/16 04:00:58PM