Racing History Minute - October 22, 1961

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

On this date in 1961, there were 38 drivers on the starting grid for the "Southeastern 500" to be contested on the half-mile Bristol International Speedway. The race was 500 laps/250 miles but the Bristrol track of 1961 was far different than the behemoth of a stadium where now 160,000 can watch a race. In 1961, the turns were much less banked and the stands could possibly have handled 20,000, if that. I attended races at Bristol in the 60s and believe me the track was nothing like it is today, but it sure had some good racing.

Bobby Johns, a Miami, Florida driver, qualified his Jack Smith Pontiac at 80.645 mph to win the pole. Joe Weatherly, contesting for the championship, qualified his Bud Moore Pontiac second. Bob Welborn in another Bud Moore Pontiac was third and Fireball Roberts in the Holly Farms Pontiac fourth. Emanuel Zervakis in the Monroe Shook Chevrolet would start fifth.

Bobby Johns led laps 1 through 30 before giving up the lead to Junior Johnson who was hustling another Holly Farms Pontiac from his 7th starting position to go out front. Bobby Johns went back in front on lap 213 but stayed there only until lap 231 when Fireball Roberts took over for 50 laps. Junior went back in front on lap 283 and commenced to run away from the field, building up a five lap lead over second place. On lap 394 of the 500 scheduled, Junior had a differential go bad in his Rex Lovette Pontiac and went behind the wall not to return to competiton. The lead now fell into the lap of Rex White who would hold onto that position until lap 419 when Joe Weatherly, running his Bud Moore Pontiac for all it was worth, flashed by to take over the lead. The last 81 laps of the race belonged to Lil Joe as he gardnered his 12th career win.

Jim Paschal was involved in a hard luck episode when, while running second to the rapid Junior Johnson at the mid point of the race, collected a spinning Tiny Lund, which damaged Paschal's J.H. Petty Pontiac enough that he had to pit for some "body work" and fell five laps behind. Jim was able to make up three of those laps to finish 4th, only two laps in arrears.

Finishing order:

1. Joe Weatherly, Bud Moore Pontiac, winning $3,680.00

2. Rex White, White-Clements Chevrolet, winning $2,365.00

3. Nelson Stacy, Holt-Stacy Ford, winniing $1,525.00

4.Jim Paschal, J. H. Petty Pontiac, winning $1,125.00 (2 laps down)

5.Emanuel Zervakis, Monroe Shook Chevrolet, winning $950.00 (5 laps down)

6. Ned Jarrett

7. Jimmy Pardue

8. Ken Rush

9. Bill Morton

10. Bob Welborn

11.Buck Baker

12. G. C. Spencer

13. L. D. Austin

14.Herman Beam

15.Curtis Crider

16. Wendell Scott

17.Bobby Johns

18. Brownie King

19. Bill Latham

20.Fred Harb

21.Jack Smith

22. Tiny Lund

23.Richard Petty

24. JuniorJohson

25. Joe Lee Johnson

26. Fireball Roberts

27.Bill Morgan

28.George Green

29.Johnny Allen

30.Bunkie Blackburn

31.PAUL LEWIS

32. Larry Thomas

33.Gene Blackburn

34.Friday Hassler

35.Joe Jones

36. Doug Yates

37. Tommy Irwin

38. Allen Franklin

Just a note here that Allen Frankling was driving a 1959 Nash and was blackflagged on lap 3 of the race for being "too slow". I haven't researched this yet, but I'm guessing this is one of the very last times a Nash competed in the NASCAR Cup series. Growing up, I lived not far from a family that would buy nothing but a Nash. I remember the early Ambassadors which had a back seat that would rival a nice sofa in your living room today. Remember the song about the "little Nash Rambler" that gave the Cadillac driver a fit "in second gear"? I don't remember the neighbors' Nash cars being hotrods, but as I sit here this morning I can still see that huge Ambassador. Guess I should have tagged this part as "personal memories".

Thank you for reading our History Minute series. Your memories, comments, and criticism is always welcomed and encouraged.

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
9,132 posts

If you've ever been to the City of Bristol, you'll be aware that it lies partially in Virginia and partially in Tennessee, separated by STATE Street. However, there is no question that the racetrack is DEFINITELY in Tennessee. If you look at the clip below from the Daytona paper via Associated Press, you'll note the city credit reads "BRISTOL, Tenn. - Va."




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"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
7 years ago
4,029 posts

Race program from Motor Racing Programme Covers :

Victory lane photo shared here at RacersReunion by Jerry Bushmire .

Race report from Spartanburg Herald .




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.

updated by @tmc-chase: 08/07/18 01:36:53PM
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
7 years ago
4,029 posts

On the same day of NASCAR's GN race in Bristol, Curtis Turner promoted a quasi-outlaw late model race at Lakewood Speedway near Atlanta. He co-promoted it with MARC, the forerunner of today's ARCA series.

Race preview from Rome News Tribune . Turner recruited several big names. He and Tim Flock were obviously available since they had been banned from NASCAR by Bill France Sr. But he apparently got Bob and Fonty to return to the track to race. Gober Sosebee whose last NASCAR GN and convertible races were in 1959 was recruited to race. And even the pre-NASCAR, southern, hotshoe Roy Hall was expected to participate.

Another preview with accompanying discussion of future plans by Turner and Tim Flock. From Sumter Daily Item .

Race report from Daytona Beach Morning Journal . This brief clipping doesn't give the full rundown so its uncertain who all actually raced vs. who was promoted by Turner to be there. Perhaps Cody or others from the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame have more info on this Lakewood event.

And the midwestern winner gets to kiss a southern belle. From The News and Courier .




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.

updated by @tmc-chase: 08/07/18 01:37:16PM
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
7 years ago
4,029 posts

Ken Rush finished 8th in B.G. Holloway's #59 Pontiac. His "teammate" of sorts Ned Jarrett finished 6th in Hollaway's Chevrolet.




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
6 years ago
4,029 posts

Red Farmer won the modified race held the day before the GN 500.

Race results from Jack Walker

Photo from Bristol Motor Speedway book. However, I do have to wonder where this photo was taken. Lights? At Bristol? In 1961?




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.

updated by @tmc-chase: 10/22/18 11:10:15AM
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
6 years ago
4,029 posts

Little Joe with his big trophy.




--
Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
6 years ago
9,132 posts

From Bristol history on web site:

Light standards clearly visible in April 1962 Bristol photo... Legends of NASCAR:




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
6 years ago
9,132 posts

Do you have a story to tell us about the 8th place modified finisher, "Cash Bond" of Nashville and how he acquired his name?




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
6 years ago
4,029 posts

The driver's name was actually CRASH Bond. Here is a revisit to an intro to him by Russ Thompson.

http://racersreunion.com/community/forum/stock-car-racing-history/25962/august-6-1961-jim-paschal-wins-nashville-500#r25966




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.

updated by @tmc-chase: 06/30/18 12:56:47PM
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
6 years ago
9,132 posts

Talk about a weak memory... appears I have asked the question previously! Can't remember what I had for breakfast, but can recall racing incidents 50 years ago easily!




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
6 years ago
4,029 posts

Mr. Short Term Memory

https://screen.yahoo.com/tom-hanks-snl-skits/mr-short-term-memory-000000263.html




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
Sandeep Banerjee
@sandeep-banerjee
6 years ago
360 posts

Do you know more about Miss Wilkinson? Had she moved stateside or what was her connection to NASCAR as she seemed to be at quite a few of them, including the 1961 World 600 alongside Pearson in victory lane.

Thanks as always for the mine of event-related information and pics.

Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
6 years ago
9,132 posts

Sandeep. I was a young lad who had just turned 13 when the photo above of June Wilkinson was taken. I remember her being touted as "The Blonde Bombshell" here in the U.S. and she had appeared in several issues of Playboy, the American men's magazine. At that point in time, U.S. race promoters were often bringing fringe Hollywood actresses like Jayne Mansfield and June to the races as publicity gimmicks. Don't know if June permanently relocated or not to U.S.




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
Sandeep Banerjee
@sandeep-banerjee
6 years ago
360 posts

Thanks Dave.

TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
5 years ago
4,029 posts




--
Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
5 years ago
9,132 posts

I am assuming that since the Modified race had an advertised 8pm start, that confirms it being a night race.




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
5 years ago
4,029 posts

Indeed. Race report about Red's win from Kingsport Times-News.




--
Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
5 years ago
4,029 posts

Pic from Saturday practice before Sunday's race. A rough newsprint image from 50+ years ago - scanned for archival - then digitized - and then cropped by me. Hey, still, it's a pic of King Richard in his '61 Plymouth about to scoot by Johnny Allen.

Race preview after qualifying was held and the field was set. Click article to open larger version in new tab.




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

updated by @tmc-chase: 06/30/18 12:57:15PM
Robert Gregory Hendrix
@robert-gregory-hendrix
5 years ago
83 posts

The story about Farmer's win, (along with referring to his team mates Bobby and Donnie Allen) refers to the summer season at Bristol International Speedway. Did Bristol run weekly events under the lights back in those days?

Robert Gregory Hendrix
@robert-gregory-hendrix
5 years ago
83 posts

To answer my own question, the caption for the victory lane picture of Red Farmer and Larry Carrier clearly states that Bristol ran Saturday night Modified-Sportsmen races in the early 60's. Well, thanks for pointing out that interesting bit of information, Robert.

Blane Moon
@blane-moon
5 years ago
113 posts

Red is one of the all time greats. Look at the competition in that Bristol race!