Racing History Minute - August 3, 1956 part 2

TMC Chase
4 years ago
3,994 posts

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.

Date Track Curtis
6/22/1956 Norfolk 1
6/24/1956 Wilson 1
6/30/1956 Chicago 2
7/1/1956 Flat Rock 1
7/4/1956 Syracuse 1
7/6/1956 Toronto 18
7/7/1956 Buffalo 5
7/14/1956 Belmar 1
7/21/1956 New Oxford 1
7/28/1956 Ft. Wayne 1
8/3/1956 Winston-Salem 1
8/4/1956 Columbia


And top of these results, he pocketed the Southern 500 on Labor Day.

Bowman Gray results

Fin Driver Car
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
Jack Walker
4 years ago
161 posts

Chase - Great find, but there were earlier Nascar touring series races held at Bowman-Gray. The Short Track Division of Nascar raced there in 1953-54-55-56.

August 15,1953 - Winner was Jim Reed in a Ford

July 24, 1954 - Winner was Jim Reed in a 52 Hudson

May 14,1955 - Winner was Lee Petty in a 54 Chrysler

July 23,1955 - Winner was Bob Welborn in 55 Chevy

May 26, 1956 - Winner was Jim Reed in a 56 Chevy

July 14, 1956 - Winner was Pee Wee Jones in a 56 Corvette

TMC Chase
4 years ago
3,994 posts

DOH! I just KNEW I was going to get busted after putting my neck on the line with that statement. Ha. And of all series ... and posting about it with Alex FL earlier today.

Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
TMC Chase
9 months ago
3,994 posts

Bowman bump

Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
2 months ago
3 posts

In addition the 1952 NASCAR Yearbook lists a Late Model race at Bowman Gray on 7/21/1951 won by Curtis Turner.  It may or may not have been a Short Track Late Model race, the 52 Year book is by track and I can fine 10 races listed as Short Track Late Model and there were 11 STLM races in 51 so I assume this was the 11th.

And on 6/14/1952 Lee Petty also won a Short Track Late Model race at B-G.