Every so often, we here at Splash ‘n Go like to give you, our readers, a little treat in the form of three interesting tidbits of NASCAR trivia and/or history in an article titled “Did You Know That?” This is the seventh edition.
Each article includes three interesting tidbits or stories about NASCAR that you may have not heard before. Hopefully, you will find them interesting and they will initiate conversation among your friends about other little-known facts regarding our favorite sport.
The three facts come from The Official NASCAR Trivia Book, which was written by John C. Farrell and was published by Fenn / McClelland & Stewart, a division of Random House of Canada. Farrell is the Marketing Manager for Lionel Racing.
FACT #1: CONTROVERSY FROM THE START
It didn’t take long for the fledgling National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing to have some of its drivers embroiled in the sport’s first controversy and disqualified from a race. In the inaugural race of the NASCAR’s premier series at Charlotte (N.C.) Speedway (not to be confused with today’s Charlotte Motor Speedway) on June 19, 1949. Glenn Dunaway of nearby Gastonia, N.C., outpaced the rest of the 33-car field, beating the runner-up, Jim Roper, by three laps. However, shortly after the race was over, it was discovered that Dunaway’s car was equipped with illegal rear springs. The win was taken away from him and awarded to Roper, with the decision to strip the win even being upheld in the court of law.
FACT #2: A NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE?
If you’ve ever been to a NASCAR race or have ever had the opportunity to drive a stock car during a NASCAR-sanctioned event, you’re probably aware of the risk involved. And you’ve probably witnessed several hard crashes. Three-time champion David Pearson was involved in one such accident during the July 19, 1970, Volunteer 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. During the event, Pearson hit the wall on Lap 100 of the 500-lap race, ending his day 22nd out of 30 drivers. Pearson had a funny, but somewhat grim perspective on the incident, “That was a hard lick. I’ve always been told that if you hit something hard enough to knock your shoes off, you’re dead. When I came to, I looked on the floorboard and saw my shoes laying there I thought for sure I was dead.”
FACT #3: UNDER-AGE DRIVING PROHIBITED
With some many young drivers nowadays competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, it’s hard to imagine that Richard Petty was a mature 21-year-old by the time he competed in his first race in the series. It wasn’t that he couldn’t compete in the series because of a NASCAR rule, but instead his father, fellow NASCAR Hall of Fame Lee Petty, wouldn’t let him compete until he had reached the age of 21. The younger Petty’s 21st birthday came on July 2, 1958, and exactly 16 days later he competed in his first series race. The event was at Canadian National Exhibition Speedway and unfortunately he didn’t fare that well, finishing 17th out of 19 drivers. His dad probably hadn’t warmed up to the idea of his son racing yet, because the younger Petty’s day ended due to his father, who ran him into the wall. Regardless of how his first race went, imagine how many more wins Richard would have collected if had started competing in the series as an 18-year-old,