Racing History Minute - September 24, 1950

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

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
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
5 years ago
3,980 posts

Lee Petty stayed away from this event for some reason. He and Byron both had their NASCAR GN points wiped out earlier in the 1950 season as a penalty for racing in non-NASCAR events. Byron, the 49 champ, didn't care. He kept racing where he wanted, and France popped him again at the end of the season. So the defending series champ raced all year in 1950 and finished with zero points. Though I'm not sure I'll be able to document it, my hunch is Lee was off racing elsewhere again that day - perhaps somewhere that paid a few dollars more for a top finish plus a bit of show money from a promoter.

Leon Sales won in Hubert Westmoreland's #98 Plymouth - the same team and perhaps the same car that Johnny Mantz drove to victory in the inaugural Southern 500 a few weeks and two races earlier. The following April, Bill Holland raced the 98 Plymouth at the old Charlotte Speedway and wrecked the car that won the 2 races in September 1950.

Poor ol' Holland didn't really set the woods on fire in his 8-race GN career (7 in 1951 and 1 race in 1952). He failed to finish in 6 of his 8 starts, wrecked Westmoreland's winning Southern 500 and Wilkesboro car, and wrecked a Cadillac in Detroit.




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

updated by @tmc-chase: 09/24/17 11:22:09PM
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
5 years ago
9,124 posts

I counted 12 drivers in the field of 26 whose names I don't know, including the winner. Now I want to look up each of those 12 names and see what I can find.




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
Cody Dinsmore
@cody-dinsmore
5 years ago
589 posts

I tell ya what, by looking at results from the first few seasons of Strictly Stock, Hubert Westmoreland had some tough cars to beat. He won the first Strictly Stock race in Charlotte in June of 49', but was disqualified. His car also won the first Southern 500 with Johnny Mantz as driver.

BTW, what a name for the 3rd place finisher,Ewell Weddle.I'll bet you he raced in the Quattlebaum division!

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

Good Point Cody! Maybe he did.

Mike Sykes
@mike-sykes
5 years ago
308 posts

Weddle was a man from Winston Salem NC as run most all divisons. A great friend that only in recent years past away. He had cars that many known drivers had driven for him like the Myers brothers, Whitey Norman, Jimmy Lewallen, and many others.

TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
3 years ago
3,980 posts




--
Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
Jim Streeter
@jim-streeter
3 years ago
242 posts

Leon was the starter (Flagman) at Bowman Gray for years.

Jim Streeter
@jim-streeter
3 years ago
242 posts

Bill France (Big Bill) gave me $50.00 to let Bill Holland drive my car in a "Match Race" with Dick Passwater at Raleigh . Bill's only comment to me after the race " That is the worse handling car I've eve drove"

TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
3 weeks ago
3,980 posts

Leon bump




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