Racing History Minute - September 13, 1959

Tim Leeming
@tim-leeming
7 years ago
3,119 posts

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
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
7 years ago
9,134 posts

That was a great name - Thunder Chicken !

Cotton Owens poses with a Thunder Chicken in the photo below from the Cotton Owens Garage web site, photographer unknown.

It was good to me to see two of our "locals" finish in the top-5, with Reds Kagle of Greenbelt, MD in 4th and Runt Harris of Fredericksburg/Richmond piloting the local Junie Donlavey ride to a 5th place run. Reds would later lose a leg in a horrible encounter with ARMCO steel guardrail at Charlotte, but he later raced and won with just one good leg!




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
2 weeks ago
4,041 posts

From Richmond Times Dispatch - Interesting that the official finishing order has Lee Petty finishing 2nd. The following photo caption and article indicate youngster Dick Petty ran second. Lee won the Buddy Shuman Memorial race two nights earlier in Hickory so Lee's car wasn't wrecked or the driver hurt. Possible Lee qualified and started the race and then turned over the car early to Richard to see what he could do?

1959 Richmond Cotton checkers 091459RichmondTimesDispatch.png

1959 Richmond Cotton 091459RichmondTimesDispatch.png



--
Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.

updated by @tmc-chase: 09/13/20 03:55:58PM
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
2 weeks ago
9,134 posts

Reds Kagle finishes 4th. Before he lost a leg at Charlotte.




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"