The 1957 season, more than any other season in those early days, was the season to see the invasion of "factory backed" cars and Detroit realized just how much performance automobiles meant to American men. The oft repeated "win on Sunday, sell on Monday" was in vogue for that season and although this early March race was only number 5 of the 1957 season, fans were ready to see what their brand of car could do against the competition. In fact, on a chilly day, at a half-mile dirt track in Concord, North Carolina, 11,000 fans showed up to watch the 100 mile/200 lap race that was to unfold there. There were, in fact, so many fans coming through the gates, that the race was delayed 30 minutes from its scheduled starting time to allow fans time to be seated. Before the green flag flew, it was standing room only.
Even with all the "factory backed" cars entered in the event, it was an independent Ford driver, Mel Larson, who captured the pole with a speed of 62.225 mph. Speedy Thompson, driving for Hugh Babb, in a Chevrolet, would start second, Billy Myers in a Bill Stroppe Mercury third. Marvin Panch would start a Pete DePaolo Ford fourth and Fireball Roberts in another DePaolo Ford fifth.
Speedy Thompson wasted no time in putting Larson behind him as Thompson would lead the first thirty laps. Fireball took over on lap 31 and led until lap 84 before yielding to Jack Smith as Fireball took his Ford in the pits for a scheduled stop. Smith led one lap before Thompson muscled his way back to the front of a lap. Smith would have none of that from Thompson and shoved his way back to the lead. Smith would lead the last 113 laps to win by six seconds over teammate Buck Baker in another Hugh Babb Chevy, who was able to hold off hard charging Thompson in yet another Hugh Babb entry. Babb cars swept the top three positions.
The only caution flag of the race flew on lap 78 when Glen Wood rolled his Ford. The yellow was out for two laps as the wrecked righted the crumpled Ford and pulled it to the pits. Wood was unhurt and would be credited with a 13th place finish in the 20 car field.
1. Jack Smith, Hugh Babb Chevrolet, winning $650.00
2. Buck Baker, Hugh Babb Chevrolet, winning $525.00
3. Speedy Thompson, Hugh Babb Chevrolet, winning $400.00
4. Fireball Roberts, DePaolo Ford, winning $320.00
5. Mel Larson, Larson Ford, winning $290.00 (1 lap down)
6. Brownie King
7. Dick Beatty
8. Charles Creger
9. L. D. Austin
10. Cotton Owens
11. Doug Cox
12. Johnny Allen
13. Glen Wood
14. Billy Myers
15. Jim Paschal
16. Marvin Panch
17. Joe Weatherly
18. Curtis Turner
19. Ned Jarrett
20. Tiny Lund
Average speed for the race was 59.860 mph. Marvin Panch, who blew an engine on lap 57, left Concord with a 488 point lead over second place Jim Paschal.
Honor the past, embrace the present, dream for the future.
updated by @tim-leeming: 12/05/16 04:00:58PM