Today we travel back to 1961 and the half-mile paved track known as Asheville-Weaverville Speedway. Actually located in Weaverville, NC, the Asheville was added to the name so folks from places other than the Western North Carolina Mountains could find it. Besides, Asheville and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountans is a beautiful place to hang out any time of year, even early November when the leaves have turned from beautiful colors to a pile on the ground.
The race we chronicle today was often referred to as "The Rain Check 200" which indicated 200 laps/100 miles of racing. It was thusly dubbed as such because most of the 6,500 fans showing up for the race were holding tickets from the "Western North Carolina 500" which was held on August 13th. That race, scheduled for 500 laps, was halted after 258 laps because the track was coming apart. These days, NASCAR would say 258 laps was an official race so you fans go home and forget about the rest. Such was not the case in 1961.
Joe Weatherly circled the track at a speed of 81.743 mph to capture the pole in his Bud Moore Pontiac. Junior Johnson put the Holly Farms Pontiac in second starting position, followed by Tommy Irwin in the Monroe Shook Chevrolet, Ned Jarrett in the B. G. Holloway Chevy, and Rex White in the White-Clements Chevy rounding out the top five starters.
The first 16 laps belonged to Joe Weatherly with a pack of roaring racers right behind him. Rex White then took over for 17 laps before Jim Paschal took over. Paschal, never more than a few car lengths out front, held on until lap 64 when a hard charging Buck Baker took over. Paschal was driving a Julian Petty Pontiac and Baker was piloting a Chrysler from his own stable. Paschal moved Baker out of the way to retake the lead on lap 70 and was battling a hard charging Rex White until lap 94 when little Rex would put the number 4 out front and hold on the rest of the way, repelling challenges from Paschal, Baker, Joe Weatherly, Jack Smith and Ned Jarrett. Paschal would develope problems in the last laps to fall back to 8th place. White would take the checkers averaging 68.467 mph for the distance. His speed was slowed by 3 caution flags for a total of 14 laps.
When the race was over, Rex had won the 21st race of his career. This was the second race of the 1962 racing season although held in November of 1961. The first race of the 1962 season was a 100 mile event in Concord, NC, which was won by Jack Smith. Leaving Asheville-Weaverville that day, there was a 3 way tie for the lead in the Championship fight. Tied for first were Rex White, Jack Smith, and Joe Weatherly, each with 752 points. The 1962 Season would end on October 28, 1962 after 53 races. The last race was the "Dixie 400" in Atlanta, won by Rex White as well. Joe Weatherly would win his first Championship but Rex could mange no better than a 5th place although he won 8 races out of 37 starts. He didn't compete in all events.
Finishing Order for the Asheville-Weaverville race:
1. Rex White, White-Clements Chevrolet, winning $800.00
2. Buck Baker, Baker Chrysler, winning $525.00
3. Joe Weatherly, Bud Moore Pontiac, winning $375.00
4. Jack Smith, Smith Pontiac, winning $275.00
5. Ned Jarrett, B. G. Holloway Chevrolet, winning $350.00 (1961 Champ)
6. Tommy Irwin, Monroe Shook Chevrolet, winning $215.00
NORMALLY I ONLY INCLUDE THE TOP FIVE WITH WINNINGS AND SUCH AND INDICATE THE LAPS DOWN POSITIONS OF OTHER DRIVERS IN THE TOP FIVE. HOWEVER, THE TOP SIX ARE LISTED HERE BECAUSE, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN NASCAR'S HISTORY UP TO THAT DATE, SIX CARS WERE ON THE LEAD LAP IN A 100 MILE GRAND NATIONAL RACE ON A SHORT TRACK. That was amajor event for the sport at that time.
7. Richard Petty
8. Jim Paschall
9. Bill Morton
10. Larry Thomas
11. Tom Cox
13. Jimmy Pardue
14. Curtis Crider
15. Bob Cooper
16. George Green
17. Joe Jones
18. Ed Livingston
20. Lester Hicks
21. Doug Yates
22. G. C. Spencer
23. Mark Hurley
24. Lee Reitzel
25. Fred Harb
26. Junior Johnson
27. Joe Lee Johnson
Honor the past, embrace the present, dream for the future
updated by @tim-leeming: 12/05/16 04:00:58PM