Richardson: Going to my first Southern 500

I had taken a liking to NASCAR Racing in 1952 when I listen to the 1952 Daytona race when it was run on the old Beach Crouse.

Then in 1953 I listen to the Daytona race. And then in September on Labor Day I listened to the Southern 500 from Darlington SC. I did the same in 1954 and 1955.

By Howard Richardson My Life Retold

By Howard Richardson
My Life Retold

Since I only lived about 50 miles from the track at Darlington. In 1956 my first cousin and myself talked our parents into letting us hitch hike to Darlington and go see the race, the finally agreed to let us go.

So on Sunday afternoon we started out a friend took us down to where Highway 1 and Highway 52 divided, there we finally got a ride to south of Society Hill, S.C., it was getting to be about 6 0’clock then after some time we got a ride from there to the race track.

When we got to the track we went and got our tickets and then walked around to see what was going on, and to find a place we might be able to sleep some, I will say this we tried to sleep but did not do much.

Anyway on Monday morning  we found a place to get something to eat, then into the grand stands and to find our seat, get ready to watch the race.

When the race started I think Speedy Thompson was on the poll, with Marvin Panch  beside him, anyway Marvin Panch  took the led for the first lap, Speedy Thompson took over and led for some time, after which Tim Flock led some, then Panch was back in front. Then Curtis Turner lad for 2 laps, let me stop here and say I was pulling for Curtis Turner to win.

Submitted photo

Submitted photo

He and Little Joe Weatherly were driving 2 1956 Fords painted just alike except for the number Turner was # 99 and Weatherly was # 9.

Back to the race after Turner led his 2 laps, Panch led some then Turner back in front for the next 163 laps and to win by 2 laps.

In the race were drivers like Lee Petty, Buck Baker, Fireball Roberts, Tim Flock and his brother Fonty, Rex White, Paul Goldsmith, Jr. Johnson, Hurb Thomas, Ralph Moody, and of course Curtis Turner and Little Joe Weatherly.

The last part showed the Turner was the class of the field as I said above he was in a class by himself and noone was going to catch him he did go on to win by 2 laps.

I can still hear the track announcer calling the race, Here comes Turner riding high wide and hand-some off of turn 4 down the front straightaway into turn 1 high wide and hand-some off turn 2 down the back straightway into turn 3 and back into turn 4 high wide and hand-some down the front straightaway for the win.

Submitted photo

Submitted photo

We had a great time at the race and saw some great racing.

We did not have much trouble getting  home after the race in fact we got a ride all the way back to Hamlet then it was on time we were home.

The next year I had my drivers licenses and I drove to the track to see the 1957 Southern 500, and again in 1958, that was the year that Ford came out with the 2 seater ThurnderBird, Curtis Turner was in # 26 and Little Joe Weatherly was in # 12 driving pair of white ones but they had some problems and did not do to good.

Richmond County native Howard Richardson is author of “My Life Retold,” available on Amazon.com.

Filed in: Latest Headlines, Opinion, Outdoors, Sports

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