The first Grand National (today's Winston Cup) driver killed in a race was Larry Mann of Yonkers, NY, who flipped his Hudson Hornet September 14, 1952. He had violated racing superstition by painting his car green.
In Richard Petty's very first Grand National/Winston Cup start July 18, 1958, his own father knocked him out of the race. Father Lee bumped son Richard in the rear on lap 55. Richard's car went into the wall. Lee won the race.
Slow Poke Travis finished 25th in the Febrary 15, 1953, Beach-Road race at Daytona Beach. It was his first last and only race. His lifetime earnings from racing totalled $25.
In his very first NASCAR race, DeWayne "Tiny" Lund was thrown from his car when the seat belts broke during a roll. His sponsor was Rupert Safety Belts. It happened in Lehi, Arkansas on October 9, 1955
Carl Kiekhafer, an iron-willed eccentric who invented the team concept in stock car racing, wouldn't let his drivers or crew sleep with their spouses the night before a race. He was the most successful owner of the 1950s.
Hardtops and convertibles ran together in the "Mixed 400" at Martinsville Speedway October 28, 1956. It was the first such race. Later, mixed events were called "Sweepstakes" races.
NASCAR sponsored its first road race June 13, 1954, at Linden (NJ) Airport. Al Keller won, driving a Jaguar sponsored by famed bandleader Paul Whiteman.
Bob, Fonty and Tim Flock's sister, Ethel, aslo raced - in more than 100 events. Sister Reo was a daredevil wing walker and stunt parachutist.
Driver Danny Weinberg led only one lap in his career, but that one lap was enough to win the race. Weinberg raced from 1951 to 1964, winning his one and only race at Hanford (CA) Motor Speedway on October 28, 1951.
Herman Beam was the first driver ever black-flagged at Daytona. He forgot his helmet.
After Junior Johnson broke two axles in a race at Charlotte in 1961, a devoted fan gave him the axle from his brand-new car so he could finish the race. Johnson broke that one too.
Irate fans held 38 drivers and their pit crews hostage in Weaverville, NC in August, 1961 after officials cut the race from 500 to 258 laps. Fans blocked the infield exit with a pickup truck, demanding more laps or refunds.
A male driver, dressed as a woman, drove in a "Powder Puff Derby" in 1962. A female driver, Wanda Tallent, won the race. Bennett Clontz, who wore the costume, came in second.
Driver Jack Smith lost the 1960 World 600 at Charlotte because his crew couldn't find the right kind of soap. He needed a bar of Octagon soap to plug a hole in his
NASCAR's first All-Star race was staged at Daytona on February 19, 1961. It was called the "American Challenge Cup" race.
There was a driver named John Kennedy, He had eight of his 19 carrer starts in 1969, but never recorded a top-10 finish. There was also one named Bill Clinton, He ran six races between 1961 and 1964, but was never in the top-10.
A crash in 1965 at Riverside, CA, killed one spectator and injured 3 others, but not because of a car or wreckage. They were atop a fork lift and when they turned to watch driver Dick Powell spin out, the fork lift toppled.
A single crash at Daytona on February 13, 1960 involved 37 cars. Of those, 24 were knocked out of the race.
Fred Lorenzen won the 1964 Rebel 300 at Darlington because his crew chief refused the car owner's direct order to bring the car into the pits for tires. Lorenzen got $10,265 for the win; Crew Chief Herb Nab got fired.
In 1968, authorities found a moonshine still under the Middle Georgia Raceway at Macon Georgia. It was hidden behind a trap door in the floor of a ticket booth. A jury found the track owner not guilty.
The first race won with tubeless tires was the Southeastern 500 at Bristol on May 2, 1965. Junior Johnson was the driver.
The youngest car owner in NASCAR records was Mamie Reynolds, 19 of Asheville, NC. Driver Fred Lorenzen won for her on her fourth start, September 13, 1962.
NASCAR's leading drivers boycotted the first race at Talladega on September 14, 1969 because the track was newly-paved and rough. It was so hard on tires that Firestone refused to provide rubber. Goodyear did so reluctantly.
The last top-level NASCAR race run on dirt was at the North Carolina State Fairground in Raleigh, NC, September 20, 1970. Richard Petty won the 100 mile event.
Richard Petty, who came in 35th, got more points than Darrell Waltrip, who came in second, at the Southern 500 in 1974. NASCAR changed the points system the following year.
The 1,000th Winston Cup/Grand National race was held in Ontario, CA, February 28, 1971. The fact that it was the 1,000th wasn't publicized, because nobody noticed until after it was over.
When Joe Frasson's Pontiac Grand Prix failed to qualify for the 1975 World 600, he smashed the car with a jack handle.
Bobby Isaac retired in the middle of a race! On the 90th lap of the 1973 Talladega 500, he quit, reportedly telling car owner Bud Moore that a voice in the car warned him to get out of the race.
Sherriff's investigators never nabbed the culprit, but at least 16 cars - including all likely front-runners - were sabotaged before the August 11, 1974 Talladega 500.
Janet Guthrie was the first woman to lead a lap in a Winston Cup/Grand National race. Under caution, she led five laps during the Los Angeles Times 500 at Ontario, CA, November 20, 1977. She finished 24th.
After winning the "Rookie of the Race" award during the WInston 500 in 1972, country singer Marty Robbins asked officials to take the award back and disqualify him. An inspection revealed an illegal carburetor.
Before 1972 the Grand National/Winston Cup circuit included 48- 50 races (many of them at 250 - 100 miles long). This was the end of the pre-modern era.
Scorers mistakenly cut a whopping 20 laps off the 250-lap Islip, NY race in 1971. They miscounted, pure and simple, so RIchard Petty got the checkered flag on lap 230.
A garbage truck ran one lap of a practice race before the World 600 at Charlotte in 1978. H. A. "Humpy" Wheeler was behind the wheel.
Richard Petty was so anxious to get out of the pits are the Richmond 500 in 1974, he dragged the gas can with him.
Cale Yarborough drove 5 laps without a windshield at Talladega in 1970. His pit crew took the glass out after the car collided with a beer bottle thrown on the track by a "fan".
Three women - and American, a Belgian, and an Italian - competed in the July 4, 1977 Firecracker 400 at Daytona....none finished.
The 1986 All-Star race, The Winston, was held in Atlanta rather than Charlotte. Only 18,500 fans showed up
1980 was the last Winston Cup/Grand National season in which full size cars were permitted by NASCAR. Starting in 1981, cars were limited to 110-inch wheel base, down from 115 inches.
Dave Marcis won the pole at North WIlkesboro in 1981 driving an unpainted car.
After winning the Miller High Life 500 at Charlotte, on October 9, 1983, inspectors found a "whopper" engine and illegal tires on Richard Petty's car. NASCAR fined Petty $35,000 and stripped him of 104 Winston Cup points.
Two spectators were killed and six injured by a lightning bolt during the Mason Dixon 500 at Dover, Delaware, on May 15, 1983
With only 28 races, the 1985 season was the shortest since 1950.
A trackside ESPN reporter, Jerry Punch, revived driver Rusty Wallace when he stopped breathing after a crash on August 27, 1988 at the Bristol 500.
Ken Schrader came from fourth to first place in the final lap of the July 31, 1988 race at Talladega, something no one had ever done to win a superspeedway event.
Temperatures were so high at the September 5, 1983 Southern 500 in Darlington, SC, that Bobby Allison's team chiseled a vent hole in the roof of his car to cool down their driver. NASCAR fined the team $500.
While today the Daytona 500 is the first race of every season, that tradition didn't start until 1982.
A Winston Cup car gets about five miles a gallon during a race; hits 60 mph in 3.5 seconds; holds three times as much oil as a passenger car; generates nearly 700 horsepower; costs $75,000 - $100,000.
Winston Cup cars must start the race wit the same set of tires used in qualifing. NASCAR stores the tires from the ten quickest cars until shortly before the race to make sure teams don't qualirfy on special "soft" tires, which run faster.
Woner Felix Sabates gave driver Kyle Petty a Rolls Royce after Petty won the 500 lap race at Rockingham, NC, March 4, 1990.
Mark Martin and Roush Racing were fined $40,000 and stripped of 46 Winston Cup points after a post-win inspection in 1990 revealed a two-and-a-half inch spacer under the carburetor. Martin went on to lose the Championship to Dale Earnhardt that same year.....by 35 points.
The length of a race track is measured along a line 15 feet inside the outer wall.
J. D. McDuffie held the record for grit and perserverance. In 29 seasons, he started 653 Grand National/Winston Cup races and never won, not even once. He died in a crash in 1991.
You can buy only one kind of candy at Martinsville Speedway: 5th Avenue bars. That's founder H. Clay Earles' favorite candy.
Dick Trickle wore a size 11 shoe on his right foot and a size 8 1/2 on his left to race at Watkins Glen August 12, 1990. (His right foot was swollen after a wreck)
NASCAR posts a speed limit on pit row. But since race cars don't have speedometers...before the race the pace car drives pit row at the speed limit. Drivers following note their tachometer readings so they have a feel for the speed limit.