In the first season of "Strickly Stock" now known as The Cup or Premier Division of NASCAR, only 8 races were run. By this date, in 1950, we are up to race 15 which was run on a 5/8 mile dirt track located in North Wilkesboro, NC. Located in the Brushy Mountains and home of Junior Johnson and Holly Farms, the track now lies in disrepair and it is such a sad site to see such a historic venue wasting away. Last time I was there, three or four years ago, it brought a tear to my eye to see the Junior Johnson Grandstand falling in with trees growing where fans once filled those seats. But, such is progress in the chase for "greenies" (Smokey Yunick's term for money).
For this Minute, however, we are going to see 26 cars check in to rul 125 miles/200 laps on the track which had, in fact, hosted the final race of the 1949 Strickly Stock season.Fireball Robert snagged the pole at a speed of 73.266 mph in his Sam Rice Olds 88. Red Byron in Raymong Parks' Cadillac would start second, Fonty Flock in an Olds was third, Curtis Turner in another Olds fourth and Herb Thomas in his own Plymouth started fifth.
Red Byron led the first three laps before the flying Fonty Flock shoved his way out front where he would remain until lap 107. On lap 108 RedByron got back in front but by lap 138 Jack Smith had moved to the front of the pack. Jack but with 8 laps to go, Jack Smith's Plymouth began to cough and sputter and slow dramatically. Out of nowhere came the littlePlymouth that had won the Southern 500 a couple weeks earlier, now being driven by a guy in his very first Grand National race. The little Plymouth, driving by newcomer Leon Sales from Winston-Salem, NC had started 11th and not one of the7,000 fans in attendance had paid any attention as Leon drove along steadily to be in position to take theleadwhen Jack encountered his problems. The rookie driver would take home the first place prize as Smith held on to second place in thewheezing and sputtering Plymouth.
Red Byron broke a spindle in the heavy Cadillac and did not finish while Fonty Flock blew the engine in his Olds to fall by the wayside. Fireball Roberts, leading the points coming in, finished 16th and picked up 2 and a half points on second place Red Byron, who didn't even enter the event.
There was an injury in the race but it wasn't a driver. Twelve year old Peter Shaw suffered a broken leg when Slick Smith's Oldsmobile hit Shaw whiletrying to miss a wheel which had come off Clyde Minter's Buick.
Top five finishers:
1. Leon Sales Westmoreland Plymouth, winning $1,000.00
2. Jack Smith, Plymouth, winning $750.00
3. Ewell Weddle, Lincoln, winning$500.00
4. Herb Thomas, Thomas Racing Plymouth, winning $400.00
5. Gayle Warren, Plymouth, winning $300.00
Sixth through tenth were Weldon Adams, Jimmy Thompson, Jerry Wimbish ,Bob Flock, and Herbert Burns. Bill Blair finished 11th, Harold Kite 12th, Billy Carden 13th, Buck Baker 14th, and Clyde Minter 15th.
Sixteenth went to Fireball Roberts, followed by Paul Parks, Fonty Flock, Red Byron, Slick Smith and Dick Shuburk. Curtis Turner would be credited with 22nd, Jim Cook 23rd, with Tim Flock, Jack Carr and Tex Keane rounding out the field.
Just a little side note here. Leon Sales, winning in his first Grand National Race would finish dead last in his next race, a 100 miler on October 15th in Martinville, VA. Talk about from top to bottom! Wow.
Honor the past, embrace the present, dream for the future
updated by @tim-leeming: 12/05/16 04:00:58PM