Most times when I am choosing a "History Minute" I do that while having my morning coffee and checking e-mails I need to answer. However, last evening I had some spare minutes after my grandson's karate class so I was checking out all the September 13th races in my reference books (Greg Fielden's "Forty Years of Stock Car Racing" and "Rumblin' Ragtops") and simply had to feature the event in Richmond, VA, run on this date in 1959. Why? Well, NOT because the Richmond area is so meaningful to Dave Fulton, although that is important. NOT because of all the post-Richmond race publicity after the huge NASCAR Chase debacle last week. Simply stated, I would not let the sponsorship of the winning car of this race go without mention in a History Minute before this series concludes. So, here we go.
Sixteen cars entered the 38th race of the 1959 season on the half-mile dirt track known as Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds in Richmond. Cotton Owens in his THUNDER CHICKEN T-Bird (see what I mean? Cool, huh?) took the pole with a speed of 62.674 mph. Glen Wood in the Wood Brothers Ford would start second, Jack Smith in a Bud Moore Chevrolet third, Tiger Tom Pistone in the Rupert Safety Belt T-Bird fourth, and Runt Harris in a Junie Dunleavy Chevrolet fifth.
Jack Smith would depart the race on lap 11 when his Chevy blew the engine. Glen Wood, also a top five starter, was out on lap 152 when a tire blew putting him into the fence and ending his day. Eleven of the 16 starters would finish the race, although the 11th place finisher, Al White, was 40 laps in arrears at the checkers.
The win was the first for Cotton Owens in the 1959 season and he left the track 1,120 points behind Lee Petty in the Grand National Points standings. This was Cotton's third career Grand National win. His average winning speed wsa 60.382 mph.
Top five finishers were:
1. Cotton Owens, THUNDER CHICKEN T-Bird, winning $800.00
2. Lee Petty, Petty Engineering Plymouth, winning $625.00
3. Tom Pistone, Rupert Safety Belts T-Bird, winning $375.00 (2 laps down)
4. Reds Kagle, Chevrolet, winning $275.00 (6 laps down)
5. Runt Harris, Junie Donleavey Chevrolet, winning $215.00 (7 laps down)
Sixth through tenth were Shep Langdon, Herman Beam, Brownie King, Bill Scott, and L.D. Austin. Rounding out the field, in finishing order, were Al White, Glen Wood, George Green, G.C. Spencer, Ned Jarrett, and Jack Smith.
Remember, it hadn't been too many weeks before this race that Ned Jarrett bought a Grand National car with a check that was NOT good at the time he wrote it but was covered by the time the bank opened Monday. What a great career Ned had, but he never drover THE THUNDER CHICKEN!!!!
Honor the past, embrace the present, dream for the future.
updated by @tim-leeming: 12/05/16 04:00:58PM