The Grand National cars ran two races in three days in the state of South Carolina in July 1961. Cotton Owens won on Thursday night at Columbia, and the teams moved their operations to Myrtle Beach over the next two days. They were scheduled for a 200-lap, 100-mile race at Rambi Raceway. Interestingly, Owens did not make the cross-state drive following his win.
Joe Weatherly snagged the pole in Bud Moore's Pontiac, and Junior Johnson lined up alongside him. Buck Baker and Richard Petty comprised the second row. Ned Jarrett rounded out the top 5 starters.
At the green, Buck Baker got around both of the top 2 starters. He led until around lap 100. His Chrysler developed problems with its rear end, however, and he exited after 111 laps to get a P13 DNF.
Ned Jarrett - the 1959 Rambi winner (and who'd later win again in 1962-63) - took over the lead following Baker's problems. His lead was short lived though. After just 8 or 9 laps up front, Little Joe got by Gentleman Ned.
Once he got the lead, Weatherly motored away. He led the remaining 80 laps and lapped all but the second place car. Jim Paschal finished second in Julian Petty's Pontiac. Coincidentally, Paschal also finished second two nights earlier in Columbia.
The car was like the same car he'd drive to the win in the Nashville 500 [ link to my RHM ] two races later at Nashville's Fairgrounds Speedway (though it was re-numbered to 44).
Jack Walker's pic of Paschal from Raceplace . Richard Petty's 61 Plymouth can be seen in the background.
Weatherly's win was the first full-on Grand National win for car owner Bud Moore. With Little Joe at the wheel, Moore's Pontiac captured wins in qualifying races for the 1961 Daytona 500 and World 600. Those races were and still are considered 'official' wins by NASCAR. And some could argue the qualifying races on those big tracks were as tough or tougher than muscling the car around the half-mile Rambi.
But in both qualifying races, the full field wasn't entered. At Rambi, the field only had 22 cars. But all teams had a shot at showing up, qualifying and racing. When the checkered flag fell:
- the had lapped all but one car
- beaten both Petty cars (Richard and Maurice)
- defeated future NASCAR Hall of Famers Buck Baker, Ned Jarrett, Junior Johnson, Fireball Roberts and Rex White
I guess it really doesn't matter if one wants to consider Rambi as Bud's first true win as a car owner or his third. I'm sure Bud didn't care because either way he went back to Spartanburg with a trophy.
Race report from Spartanburg Herald .
|1||Joe Weatherly||'61 Pontiac|
|2||Jim Paschal||'61 Pontiac|
|3||Ned Jarrett||'61 Chevrolet|
|4||George Green||'60 Ford|
|5||Emanuel Zervakis||'61 Chevrolet|
|6||Herman Beam||'60 Ford|
|7||L.D. Austin||'61 Chevrolet|
|8||Larry Thomas||'60 Chevrolet|
|9||Bob Barron||'60 Dodge|
|10||Rex White||'61 Chevrolet|
|11||Jimmy Pardue||'60 Chevrolet|
|12||Doug Yates||'61 Plymouth|
|13||Buck Baker||'61 Chrysler|
|14||Lee Reitzel||'60 Ford|
|15||Tiny Lund||'60 Ford|
|16||G.C. Spencer||'60 Chevrolet|
|17||Richard Petty||'61 Plymouth|
|18||Maurice Petty||'60 Plymouth|
|19||Curtis Crider||'60 Ford|
|20||Jack Smith||'61 Pontiac|
|21||Fireball Roberts||'61 Pontiac|
|22||Junior Johnson||'60 Pontiac|
Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
updated by @tmc-chase: 12/05/16 04:00:58PM