Racing History Minute - November 11, 1951

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

Yesterday I was thinking I would start this History Minute with a tribute to Veterans' Day as I think it is very important to recognize Veterans. But after reading the post Dave Fulton re-posted from last year, I decided to let Dave's post speak for itself. In that post he and Paul Sawyer show us what it means to honor a Vet. Read Dave's post. It's in the Forum section.

Ok, with that being said, let us move on to the RACING History Minute. Today we travel in time back to 1951 (the year before I was introduced to the sport) and we are going to the 1 mile dirt track in Atlanta, GA, known as Lakewood Speedway. This was race number 39 of the 1951 season and with really only ONE race remaining on the East Coast for the Championship, it would be a good one for sure.

Frank Mundy qualified a Studebaker on the pole with a speed of 74.013 mph. Herb Thomas in the FABULOUS Hudson Hornet would start second, Bob Flock in the Gray Ghost Olds third, Tim Flock in Ted Chester's Hudson fourth and Jack Smith in a Hudson fifth.

There were 26,000 fans on hand for the 100 mile race and they watched Frank Mundy lead one lap before Bob Flock slammed that Gray Ghost Olds out front. Bob would stay there only 11 laps before his brother, Tim, took over and moved that Hudson out front for keeps. Tim would take the checkers at an average speed of 59.960 mph after caution flags slowed the pace.

One caution came out when apromising young driver from Macon, Ga., Jesse James Taylor, flipped his Hudson in turn one. The roof of the Hudson caved in on Taylor and it took rescue workers more than 15 minutes to cut him from the car. Taylor was transported to Crawford Memorial Hospital in serious condition. Further, Taylor's wife was expecting a baby and the shock of the accident caused her to miscarry and she was transported to the same hospital for treatment.

Another driver Pete Page, lost control of his Oldsmobile in the first turn and the car went into a series of wild flips and twisting turns. Page was knocked unconscious and was transported to the hospital where he was reported in "fair condition".

Finishing order:

1. Tim Flock, Ted Chester Hudson, winning $1,000.00

2. Bob Flock, Gray Ghost Oldsmobile, winning $700.00

3. Jack Smith, Hudson, winning $450.00

4. Frank Mundy, Perry Smith Studebaker, winning $350.00

5. Gober Sosebee, Cherokee Garage Oldsmobile, winning $200.00

6. Ed Samples

7. Lloyd Moore

8. Buddy Shuman

9. Red Duvall

10. Don Oldenburg

11. Jimmie Lewallen

12. Lee Petty

13.Neal Roberts

14. Glen Dunaway

15. Bill Snowden

16. Billy Carden

17. Jimmy Florian

18.Dan Rush

19. Herb Thomas

20. Dick Lindler

21. Cal Fisher

22. Jesse James Taylor

23. Leonard Trippett

24. Roscoe Thompson

25. Bill Blair

26. Pete Page

27. Jim Paschal

28.Buck Baker

29.Bob Ruether

30. Donald Thomas

31. Tommy Moon

Honor the past, embrace the present, dream for the future


updated by @tim-leeming: 11/25/20 04:33:49PM
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
7 years ago
9,134 posts

On Tuesday, November 6, 1951, the Wilmington (NC) Morning Star carried this preview of the upcoming Lakewood race, datelined Atlanta - November 5. Wonder what happened to Fonty Flock? He isn't shown in the race rundown.

And, for your listening pleasure that Tuesday morning of November 6, 1951, Wilmington radio stations offered the following fare:




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
7 years ago
9,134 posts

Just answered the question of what happened to Fonty Flock at Lakewood.

He traveled acoss the country with a Frank Christian Oldsmobile to the NASCAR Grand National race at J.C. Agajanian's Carrell Speedway in Gardena, California on November 11, 1951, where he earned the pole position and led the first 71 laps before fading to an 11th place finish in the event won by Bill Norton. 1950 Southern 500 winner, Johnny Mantz would place 7th in the Gardena race and Marvin Panch 16th. Sam Hawks placed 26th in a second Marvin Panch entry.

NASCAR Grand National race number 40 of 41
Sunday, November 11, 1951 at Carrell Speedway , Gardena, CA
200 laps on a .500 mile dirt track (100.0 miles)

Attendance: 6,100
Lead changes: 5
Fin St # Driver Sponsor / Owner Car Laps Money Status Led
1 10 48 Bill Norton Larry Bettinger '50 Mercury 200 1,000 running 19
2 3 9 Dick Meyer Grant Sniffen '50 Mercury 700 running 82
3 20 25 Erick Erickson Packer ( Erick Erickson ) '51 Pontiac 450 running 0
4 4 33 Lou Figaro Jack Gaynor '51 Hudson 350 running 0
5 2 Danny Weinberg Tony Sampo '51 Studebaker 200 running 0
6 7 6 Bill Ledbetter Bill Ledbetter 150 0
7 22 77 Burt Jackson 125 0
8 8 98 Johnny Mantz Johnny Mantz '51 Nash 100 28
9 9 36 Danny Letner Bert Letner '51 Hudson 75 0
10 29 Walt Davis 50 0
11 1 14 Fonty Flock Red Devil ( Frank Christian ) '51 Oldsmobile 25 71
12 5 99 Ben Gregory Cos Cancilla 25 0
13 6 35 Fuzzy Anderson Bert Letner 25 0
14 11 76 Don McLeish 25 0
15 12 27 George Seeger George Hicks 25 0
16 13 56 Marvin Panch Marvin Panch '50 Mercury 25 0
17 14 66 Bud Riley Northeast Motors ( Joe Beccue ) '51 Hudson 25 0
18 15 10 Tommy Melvin 25 crash 0
19 16 84 Robert Caswell Lou Mangini '50 Plymouth 25 crash 0
20 17 95 Freddie Farmer Freddie Farmer '51 Nash 25 0
21 18 12 Bill Stammer Bill Stammer 25 0
22 19 7 Fred Bince Speedway Auto Sales ( Cliff Caldwell ) '49 Plymouth 98 25 0
23 21 54 Andy Pierce '49 Plymouth 25 0
24 23 97 Jack Gaynor Jack Gaynor Hudson 25 lf wheel 0
25 24 3 Allen Heath Allen Heath 25 overheating 0
26 25 55 Sam Hawks Marvin Panch '50 Plymouth 25 0
27 26 11 Chuck Meekins 25 0
28 27 31 Lloyd Porter Stan Noble 25 0
29 28 16 Fred Steinbroner Bob Carpenter '48 Ford 25 0
Lap leader breakdown:
Leader From
Lap
To
Lap
# Of
Laps
Fonty Flock 1 71 71
Dick Meyer 72 104 33
Johnny Mantz 105 108 4
Dick Meyer 109 157 49
Johnny Mantz 158 181 24
Bill Norton 182 200

19

Results from Racing Reference.




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
Russ Thompson
@russ-thompson
7 years ago
46 posts

This was a significant race for a couple of Nashville drivers. Bob Reuther made his first of three "Cup" starts driving for owner Truthful Kelley. He loved talking about that race.

Bob went on to be a successful driver racing all over the southeast. He set the qualifying record for the Modified-Sportsman division on the beach at Daytona in 1957. qualifying at just over 150 mph. That was almost 15 mph faster than the second fastest qualifier Tim Flock!

Bob and the crew pose with the trophy for winning the pole:

Bob also was the first champion when the local weekly races moved to the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway in 1958.

He remained involved in racing after his retirement from the cockpit, becoming the pilot for Bobby Hamilton when Bobby started running the Cup series.

Pete Page must have recovered from the accident. Although Lakewood was his only GN start he continued racing around the Nashville area until the middle sixties. In 1965 he tried his hand at track management as he became partners with country singer Faron Young as they converted the old Nashville baseball park Sulpher Dell into a race track.

Here is Pete with one of his cars in the middle fifties:

And this last one is ironically a photo that ran in the Tennessean in the summer of 1964 promoting the Saturday night races at the Fairgrounds. Pete is signing an autograph for a young fan sitting on his fender. The fan happens to be me!

Sorry if I hijacked the topic but this race probably had the most significant Nashville connection until the GN cars started racing at the Fairgrounds in 1958.

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

An interesting article on the history of the half-mile dirt Carrell Speedway in Gardena, California, which hosted the "other" NASCAR Grand National race on November 11, 1951 and was the site of the first NASCAR race staged west of the Mississippi River. It was also the site of the Mickey Rooney film "The Big Wheel".

Carrell Speedway in Gardena









Carrell Speedway in Gardena, left, in undated aerial photo. Vermont Avenue runs diagonally through the center of the photo. The Vermont Drive-In, right center, opened in 1944, could make parking for either venue a challenge.


Carrell Speedway in Gardena was part of a whole circuit of local automobile raceways scattered around in the Los Angeles area in the first half of the 20 th century.

The half-mile dirt track stood near the corner of 174 th Street and Vermont Avenue. Though not far from the site of the more well-remembered  Ascot Park, the two racetracks were not built on the exact same spot; the Ascot raceway was located south of Carrell, at 182 nd Street and Vermont in Harbor Gateway. (Because of its proximity to Gardena, track operators always referred to it as being in Gardena.)

Carrell Speedway was built by Emmett J. Malloy in 1940 on land owned by Judge Frank R. Carrell, a longtime justice of the peace and community leader in Gardena. Carrell was a member of the first graduating class of Gardena High School in 1907, and over the years owned a large amount of property in the area, including a share of Hollywood Park racetrack. (Judge Carrell died of a heart attack on Sept. 27, 1947, and hundreds turned out to pay tribute to him at his memorial service.)



Program for foreign races.


Carrell Speedway quickly became a hotbed of West Coast racing, hosting all kinds of events, from open-wheel racing to stock cars, sprint cars, motorcycles and foreign cars. It remained a dirt track until October 1948, when it was paved.

Some of the eras most popular racers competed there, including Johnny Parsons , Lou Figaro , Troy Ruttman , Marshall Teague and Frank Rebel Mundy .

In retrospect, perhaps the most famous driver to cut his teeth on racing at Carrell was 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner and current Rolling Hills resident Parnelli Jones , who writes about his days at Carrell in the early 1950s in his new book, As a Matter of Fact, I AM Parnelli Jones . Hell be signing copies of it at Barnes and Noble in Torrance on Wednesday, May 1, at 7:00 p.m.

Another famous person associated with Carrell Speedway was film star Mickey Rooney . He played scuffling mechanic-turned race car driver Billy Coy in  The Big Wheel, which was released in 1949. The film was set at Carrell, and used a good deal of stock footage from races held there.

The nascent  NASCAR  racing organization was only in its third year of existence in 1951, but the fourth race of that season turned out to be historic in hindsight: The stock car race at Carrell won by Marshall Teague in his Hudson Hornet on April 8, 1951, was the first NASCAR race to be held west of the Mississippi River.

Racing continued to be popular during the early 1950s. Legendary racing promoter J.C. Agajinian, who went on to operate Ascot Park for decades, also managed Carrell Speedway for two separate stints, from 1947-1950, when he had a falling out with track management, and then from Dec. 1953 until the tracks closure on June 1, 1954.

The tracks closure was announced in April 1954, when W.L. Bolstad of the California Department of Public Works told track lease holders (and brothers) Bob, Ken and Dee Durr that the state had purchased the right of way going through the speedway site for construction related to the Harbor Freeway.

Track officials decided to hold a series of big races over the final weekend of its operation, including the fourth annual Poor Mans Indianapolis, a 500-mile NASCAR event featuring 55 late-model stock cars. (John Soares won $1,500 for his first-place finish in a field of 32 cars.) A final race featuring NASCAR hardtops was held on May 31, 1954, before Carrell Speedway went dark for the last time.









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

I like how they say 'some' 200 and 'some' 250 points. Shows how it wasn't easy to get 100% accurate information back then, half a century before you could just look it up online.

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




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

Thanks Tim and Dave.

Dave, that is a great picture of you and Pete, almost looks like it was shot yesterday.

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

Average spped for 100 miles nearing 55 mph on a half-mile dirt track in 1951 was very fast.




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
7 years ago
9,134 posts

Sandeep... that's Russ Thompson... I should be so young!!! And, it does look like it was just photographed yeaterday, doesn't it?




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

Oh, I must have missed Russ' name between scrolls.. sorry, haha!

TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
6 years ago
4,049 posts

Pic of Jesse James Taylor's #31 Hudson in 1951. From Ben White's book NASCAR Then And Now and provided by Smyle Media.

Taylor did recover from his injuries though it took him 5 years to return to GN racing. He raced a few times in 1956 but had yet another tough accident in the 1958 Southern 500. He made only one more start after his day was done at Darlington.




--
Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
3 years ago
4,049 posts

Bump




--
Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
3 weeks ago
4,049 posts

1951 Atlanta Lakewood ad 111081AtlantaConstitution.png
1951 Atlanta Lakewood Flock edited 111251AtlantaConstitution.png




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

updated by @tmc-chase: 11/11/20 09:11:20AM