| September 3, 1956 (1956-September-03)|
Darlington Raceway, Darlington, South Carolina
Permanent racing facility
1.375 mi (2.221 km)
400 laps, 500 mi (800 km)
Hot with temperatures reaching up to 89.1 °F (31.7 °C); wind speed up to 13 miles per hour (21 km/h)
95.167 miles per hour (153.156 km/h)
The 1956 Southern 500, the seventh running of the event, was a NASCAR Grand National Series (now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series) event that was held on September 3, 1956, at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina.
This race was considered to be the "Labor Day Classic" for 1956; complete with a pre-race beauty pageant with a judging panel led by Fonty Flock and a parade down the front stretch of the race track.
By the 1990s, NASCAR's top-level series became a media circus that only races at facilities that are worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
1956 Southern 500 Wikipedia
Darlington Raceway, nicknamed by many NASCAR fans and drivers as "The Lady in Black" or "The Track Too Tough to Tame" and advertised as a "NASCAR Tradition", is a race track built for NASCAR racing located near Darlington, South Carolina. It is of a unique, somewhat egg-shaped design, an oval with the ends of very different configurations, a condition which supposedly arose from the proximity of one end of the track to a minnow pond the owner refused to relocate. This situation makes it very challenging for the crews to set up their cars' handling in a way that will be effective at both ends.
The track is a four-turn 1.366 miles (2.198 km) oval. The track's first two turns are banked at twenty-five degrees, while the final two turns are banked two degrees lower at twenty-three degrees. The front stretch (the location of the finish line) and the back stretch is banked at six degrees. Darlington Raceway can seat up to 60,000 people.
There were 364 laps done on a paved track spanning 1.375 miles (2.213 km). It only took five hours, fifteen minutes, and thirty-three seconds for the race to reach its conclusion. Seven cautions were committed for seventy-eight laps and the margin of victory was more than two laps. Attendance was established at seventy thousand people; about the size of a typical modern day sporting event.
The average speed of the race was 95.167 miles per hour (153.156 km/h) while the pole speed was 119.695 miles per hour (192.630 km/h) and was achieved by Speedy Thompson. Seventy American drivers competed as the race entries; there were no foreigners in that race. Other notable drivers in the race included future car owner Junior Johnson, Joe Weatherly, Fonty Flock, Gwyn Staley, Fireball Roberts, Tiny Lund and Herb Thomas. Judge Rider would make his only Cup Series start in this event.
Bobby Myers fell out then drove in relief for Jim Paschal finishing in sixth place. Paschal, however got credit for the finish according to NASCAR's archives of race finishes. Larry Flynn made contact with Bill Brown during this race. Brown, sporting a very rare onboard (on the front bumper), flew over the wall, destroying the guardrail there, and rolled down the bank, and Flynn's gas can flew out. It was hit by someone and a fire started, which spread to the car. Luckily, seatbelts helped to save the lives of both Flynn and Brown.
Ten drivers failed to qualify for this race; two of them did not have an officially registered number with NASCAR authorities. Only one Pontiac and one Chrysler were too slow to compete in the 1956 Southern 500. The rest of the non-qualifying vehicles were Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge and Plymouth. Total winnings for the race was $35,365 ($311,532.32 when adjusted for inflation). Manufacturers involved in the event included Chevrolet (active), Ford (active), Dodge (active), Mercury (defunct after 2010), Plymouth (defunct), Chrysler (active), Pontiac (defunct), and Buick (active).
† signifies that the driver is known to be deceasedStart of race: Marvin Panch officially began the event with the pole position
Lap 2: Speedy Thompson took over the lead from Marvin Panch
Lap 12: Piston troubles made Arden Mounts into the last-place finisher
Lap 17: Tim Flock took over the lead from Speedy Thompson
Lap 25: Jesse James Taylor's engine problems would force him to leave the race early
Lap 26: Russ Graham had a terminal crash, forcing him to exit the race
Lap 27: Gasket problems would force Peck Peckerham to exit the race
Lap 33: Marvin Panch took over the lead from Tim Flock
Lap 34: Curtis Turner took over the lead from Marvin Panch
Lap 36: Tim Flock took over the lead from Curtis Turner
Lap 39: Curtis Turner took over the lead from Tim Flock
Lap 54: Doug Yates had a terminal crash, forcing him to exit the race prematurely
Lap 57: Gwyn Staley had a terminal crash, ending his race weekend
Lap 60: Throttle problems forced Pee Wee Jones to stop racing for the remainder of the race
Lap 73: Engine problems managed to take Nace Mattingly out of the race
Lap 90: Bob Duell lost the rear end of his racing vehicle
Lap 91: Bobby Myers' gas tank was yanked off in a manner unsafe for racing
Lap 96: Marvin Panch took over the lead from Curtis Turner
Lap 100: Don Oldenburg's gas tank was yanked off in a manner unsafe for racing
Lap 101: Jim Paschal took over the lead from Marvin Panch
Lap 113: Danny Letner had a terminal crash
Lap 117: Spindle problems managed to sideline Fonty Flock for the remainder of the race
Lap 119: Ralph Moody had a terminal crash
Lap 132: Fireball Roberts took over the lead from Jim Paschal
Lap 167: Curtis Turner took over the lead from Fireball Roberts
Lap 169: Marvin Panch took over the lead from Curtis Turner
Lap 202: Curtis Turner took over the lead from Marvin Panch
Lap 264: Dick Beaty had a terminal crash, forcing him to exit the race
Lap 300: The axle on Ralph Liguori's vehicle became problematic
Lap 317: Joe Eubanks' vehicle managed to blow a gasket
Finish: Curtis Turner was officially declared the winner of the event
* Driver failed to finish race