A couple of years ago, Tim Leeming posted about Jim Paschal's win in the one and only Grand National race at Oklahoma State Fairgrounds Speedway on August 3, 1956. [Racing History Minute]
That same Friday, NASCAR's convertible division ran a 150 lap race at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem. Two 25 lap qualifying heats were also on the agenda.
Though NASCAR-sanctioned races were held at Bowman Gray in the 1950s, the ragtop race was to be the first major NASCAR touring series race at the track. Matter of fact, the convertibles had the place to themselves for a while. Four convertible races were held before the Grand National division's debut at Bowman Gray in May 1958.
The race's main story line was the on-going championship battle between Bob Welborn and Curtis Turner. Not to be forgotten, however, was Turner's wingman Joe Weatherly.
Race preview from the Statesville Record and Landmark
I'm not sure who laid down the quickest lap in time trials - nor do I know who won the 25-lap heats. I suspect, however, that Turner and Jimmie Massey won the heats because they started on the front row. Bill Lutz and Glen Wood made up row 2, and Dan Oldenberg and Welborn landed in row 3. -Getty
Once the field got the green, folks settled in for a dominating performance for the most popular driver at Bowman Gray. Pops led all 150 laps to win yet again in 1956. He lapped Ford teammate Glen Wood. Tire issues doomed Wood to a 15th place DNF. -Getty
The race had a bit of an international flair with Canadian Norman Schiel in the field. But his #3 Ford too was no match for Pop's blue oval. -Getty
He and Little Joe were the only two drivers to complete the full 150 laps. Third place Danny Letner and 4th place Larry Odo were both 3 laps down to Turner and Weatherly. Everyone else finished even more laps down.
To say Turner was on a hot streak in the summer of 1956 would be an understatement. The Summer of Curtis looked like this from late June through early August.
And top of these results, he pocketed the Southern 500 on Labor Day.
Bowman Gray results
|1||Curtis Turner||'56 Ford|
|2||Joe Weatherly||'56 Ford|
|3||Danny Letner||'56 Dodge|
|4||Larry Odo||'56 Chevrolet|
|5||Gwyn Staley||'56 Chevrolet|
|6||Art Binkley||'56 Plymouth|
|7||Bun Emery||'56 Mercury|
|8||Jimmie Lewallen||'56 Chevrolet|
|9||Jimmy Massey||'56 Chevrolet|
|10||Gene Blair||'56 Dodge|
|11||Bob Welborn||'56 Chevrolet|
|12||Mel Larson||'56 Ford|
|13||Larry Frank||'56 Mercury|
|14||Bob Beck||'56 Chevrolet|
|15||Glen Wood||'56 Ford|
|16||Norman Schihl||'56 Ford|
|17||Dick Joslin||'56 Dodge|
|18||Cannonball Brown||'56 Chrysler|
|19||Don Oldenberg||'55 Buick|
|20||Allen Adkins||'56 Dodge|
|21||Bill Lutz||'56 Ford|
|22||Spike Sheldon||'55 Plymouth|
Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
updated by @tmc-chase: 08/03/18 10:39:33AM