| Wilkes County 160|
| April 8, 1956 (1956-April-08)|
North Wilkesboro Speedway, North Wilkesboro, North Carolina
Permanent racing facility
0.625 mi (1.00 km)
160 laps, 100 mi (160 km)
Cold with temperatures approaching 51.1 °F (10.6 °C); wind speeds up to 19 miles per hour (31 km/h)
The 1956 Wilkes County 160 was a NASCAR Grand National Series (now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series) event that was held on April 8, 1956, at North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina.
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 Wilkes County 160 Wikipedia
The attendance at the race reached 7500 people and the race was held in a matter of one hour, twenty-four minutes, and twenty-eight seconds. There were 160 laps done on a .625 miles (1.006 km) mile dirt track with the total distance of the race being 100 miles (160 km) miles. The average speed being 71.034 miles per hour (114.318 km/h) and the pole position speed was considered to be 78.37 miles per hour (126.12 km/h). Top ten finishers of the race were: Tim Flock, Billy Myers, Jim Paschal, Herb Thomas, Ralph Moody, Dink Widenhouse, Allen Adkins, Lee Petty, Bill Blair, and Whitey Norman. Other notable racers included: Fireball Roberts, Buck Baker, Gwyn Staley, Junior Johnson, and Tiny Lund. Dick Beaty (who finished twelfth place in the race) would go on to become the "top cop" in NASCAR decades later; passing a rule requiring vehicles to "pass to the right" on the restart.
Out of the twenty-nine competitors for this race, there were thirteen race car drivers that failed to finish – leaving sixteen drivers that ended up competing the entire 160 laps (100 miles) of the race. The most common problem was the piston (which occurred in two different drivers). After racing, the top prize was $1,100 ($9,689.96 when considering inflation) and the prize for last place was $0. Due to the niche status of the sport at that time, this event was completely untelevised and could only be seen either live or through local radio. NASCAR's then-current prize structure only gave out monetary rewards from first place to twentieth place; all other finishers did not receive any prize winnings at all. This is in complete contrast to today where everybody gets more than $100,000 just because they qualified for race day. It is believed that the high prize winnings in addition to rising gasoline and electricity prices are to blame for today's NASCAR events being too expensive for most people to watch other than through live television coverage.
Several models of automobile participated in the race including: Ford (active), Chevrolet (active), Pontiac (defunct), Dodge (active), Mercury (active but not participating in racing), and Plymouth (defunct). This was the only race for North Wilkesboro Speedway in the entire 1956 season. Racing numbers in this era were not limited to double-digit numbers. There were a couple drivers with triple digit numbers and even a driver using the letter "X" as his race car number. Fortunately, this practice was discarded by NASCAR after the 1963 Sandlapper 200 where Frank Warren would take his single-lettered car to a 13th-place finish (after starting in 18th).
* Driver failed to finish raceStart of race: Junior Johnson started the race with the pole position
Lap 13: Engine troubles gave Harvey Henderson a last-place finish
Lap 17: A problematic piston ended Junior Johnson's hopes of winning the race
Lap 18: Speedy Thompson takes over the lead from Junior Johnson
Lap 22: Johnny Allen had a terminal crash
Lap 38: Driveshaft problems ended Fireball Roberts' race weekend
Lap 45: A tire came loose off Ralph Liguri's vehicle
Lap 83: Lou Spears' car managed to overheat itself, making him accept a 23rd-place finish
Lap 93: Jimmie Lewallen's engine gave up, forcing him to accept an less than stellar finish
Lap 102: John McVitty's fuel pump developed problems, causing him to leave the event
Lap 112: A frame came loose off Rex White's vehicle
Lap 115: Tim Flock takes over the lead from Speedy Thompson
Lap 127: Speedy Thompson suddenly had a faulty gas line in his vehicle, making him depart from the race early
Lap 133: Joe Eubanks had some troubles with his vehicle's axle, causing him to settle for a 17th-place finish
Lap 134: Gwyn Staley's vehicle developed transmission problems, forcing him out of the race
Finish: Tim Flock was officially declared the winner of the event
† Driver is deceased.