The Way it Was!
...at Darlington Raceway from 1957–1962 when the track’s spring race, then known as the Rebel 300, was strictly for NASCAR’s convertible race cars. Fireball Roberts, driving a Ford, led all but 39 laps to win the inaugural Rebel 300 on May 12, 1957. It was the 29-year-old driver’s first convertible victory and his first superspeedway win. Second was Tim Flock, two laps down. Rounding out the top five were Bobby Myers, Bob Welborn and Lee Petty. The 1958 Rebel 300 was won by Curtis Turner with Roberts taking the 1959 version. NASCAR folded its conversion division after the 1959 season, but Darlington President Bob Golvin had an affection for the “Ragtops”. He also wanted the track’s spring event to have some type of distinction from Labor Day’s Southern 500. Therefore, he continued the spring event, now known as the TranSouth Financial 400, as a convertible race through 1962. Joe Weatherly won the race in ‘60, Fred Lorenzen in ‘61 and Nelson Stacy in ‘62. NASCAR then urged Colvin to drop the special convertible event and conduct it as a regular Grand National (now Winston Cup) race. (March 19, 1998 “NASCAR Winston Cup Scene”)
Thanks to Pontiac Registry.
1961 Daytona 500
This scene of the tremendous crash of Lee Petty (Richard Petty’s father) at the 1961 Daytona 500, nearly cost him his life. As almost a “premonition” of things to come, we see a beautiful ‘59 Pontiac ambulance standing by. The senior Petty would survive this wreck, but only after a long battle. From this point on, son Richard would move into the racing spotlight.
David Pearson NASCAR GTO
Now here's a shot you don't see too often. Unless, of course you have your nose in stacks of old race magazines all the time. But, even at that, these are few and far between.
While we all know that Pontiac was involved in NASCAR until just recently, we tend to only see those nostalgic shots from the '60s where Pontiac is kicking everyone elses' collective butts. However, the '70s was still an active time for Pontiac, but gone were the days of near supreme dominance.
Here is a shot proving that Pontiac was in fact alive and well in the early '70s. It is captioned "David Pearson, three times NASCAR champion, finally got his Pontiac GTO running only to suffer from overheating." There is no year, but a good guess would be that this is a 1971 or '72 GTO. From the big lower light pods, '72 might be the better guess, but it is near impossible to be sure.
Note that while hood scoops are a GTO "must", they were obviously not the preferred intake method out on the track.
Our thanks to PontiacRegistry.com member, and racing enthusiast, Jeff Redhage for this shot.)
1948 Pontiac Torpedo Sedan"Hollywood" Jalopy Pontiac Leads the Pack!
75 Years of Pontiac- The Official History
Now here's something you don't see everyday (or perhaps ever)... a '48 Pontiac, not only racing, but actually winning!
This shot was published in the official history of Pontiac written by Pontiac author and historian, John Gunnell. There isn't much history on this shot other than it was from an early-'50s magazine.
While it probably wasn't much of a push to stay ahead of what appear to be early '50s Plymouths, that old Pontiac must have had its work cut out getting in front of what looks to be a 1949 or later Oldsmobile... unless the Olds didn't sport the new OHV V-8 (but why would you go to the race track with anything less in your Olds?).
As all know, things were about to change in a few short years when Pontiac introduced its all new OHV V8 in 1955. An entirely new history was about to begin as Pontiac went from an old man's car to a full performance machine.
If you have not checked out John Gunnell's book celebrating Pontiac's 75th Anniversary, find yourself a copy. You will really enjoy it!
A.J. Foyt Wrecked '62 PontiacRace on Sunday....
"Race on Sunday... do body work on Monday"
Well, that's not exactly how the saying went, but it certainly applied here as A.J. Foyt turned out to have pretty much proved the physics theory that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time.
In this race it looks like Foyt's 405HP 421 '62 Pontiac and the '62 Ford were those "two objects". The Ford was most probably the 406, and while not the cubes as the Poncho was probably their biggest contender for those checkered flags back then.
The early '60s, up until the racing ban on January 24, 1963, was witness to Pontiac supreme on the tracks- the round ones as well as the straight ones. A few race teams struggled on in '63, but by the end of the season were pretty well gone without the factory backing. Pontiac would not reappear in stock car racing until 1978, and as we all know leave again in the early 2000s only to contine backing Chevrolet teams.
www.pontiacregistry.comSmokey Yunick and Fireball Roberts
the greatest era of Pontiac racing are two of the greatest of the greats. By 1959, Pontiac was King of the Hill wide-tracking all over the competition. Few built them better than Smokey Yunick, and few drove them harder than Fireball Roberts.
www.pontiacregistry.comThe Black Whirlwind- '62 Catalina
Famous for his successful Pontiac racing campaigns that took the competition to task for years, a young Bill Knafel is shown celebrating a trophy presentation for his 1962 Catalina "The Black Whirlwind."
The Knafel story is one of factory back door racing at its height in the '60s. Those were the days!
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