Girish Mahajan

1961 National 400

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Official name  National 400
1961 National 400
Date  October 15, 1961 (1961-October-15)
Location  Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, North Carolina
Course  Permanent racing facility 1.500 mi (2.410 km)
Distance  267 laps, 400.5 mi (644.5 km)
Weather  Chilly with temperatures approaching 66.9 °F (19.4 °C); wind speeds up to 14 miles per hour (23 km/h)

The 1961 National 400 was a NASCAR Grand National Series stock car race that was held on October 15, 1961, at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina.

Contents

The transition to purposely-built racers began in the early 1960s and occurred gradually over that decade. Changes made to the sport by the late 1960s brought an end to the "strictly stock" vehicles of the 1950s; most of the cars were trailered to events or hauled in by trucks.

Background

Around 35,821 spectators traveled to Charlotte Motor Speedway to watch the race. Located in Concord, North Carolina, Charlotte Motor Speedway is a banked 1.5-mile (2.4 km) quad-oval that opened in 1960 for the inaugural World 600. Construction for the track began in 1959 with Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner as architects for the speedway.

Summary

David Pearson, Fireball Roberts and Junior Johnson would dominate the early portion of the race. This race would last for roughly three hours and twenty minutes; an audience of more than 35,000 NASCAR followers would see race cars reaching up to 120 miles per hour (190 km/h). Ken Rush was credited with the last-place finish due to problems with his rocker arm on lap 16 out of this 267-lap stock car racing event. Junior Johnson's "top ten" finish came as a result of a problem with one of his wheels on lap 256; he was destined for a "top five" finish until he encountered that problem.

Most of the vehicles in the race were either Pontiacs or Ford. Junior Johnson, Bob Welborn and Fireball Roberts would be the joint leaders during the middle portion of the race. Fireball Roberts' vehicle would suffer from severe damage after blowing a right front tire on lap 113. Not only did the vehicle managed smash the guard rail, it also succeeded in sliding back into a herd of competing drivers; where a car slammed at it while driving in excess of 100 miles per hour or 160 kilometres per hour. However, Fireball Roberts wasn't even remotely injured as a result of seat belts and "superior driving."

Joe Weatherly would eventually gain the lead on lap 263 and used this opportunity to rob Richard Petty of a win by being almost two car lengths ahead of him. All 43 drivers on the starting grid were born in the United States of America; no foreigner was recorded qualifying for the race. Individual race winnings for each driver ranged from the winner's share of $9,510 ($76,217.67 when adjusted for inflation) to the last-place finishers' share of $275 ($2,203.98 when adjusted for inflation). The total prize purse offered for this professional stock car racing event was $42,050 ($337,008.74 when adjusted for inflation).

Timeline

  • Start of race: David Pearson had the pole position to begin the event
  • Lap 4: Fireball Roberts took over the lead from David Pearson
  • Lap 74: David Pearson took over the lead from Fireball Roberts
  • Lap 75: Junior Johnson took over the lead from David Pearson
  • Lap 77: Fireball Roberts took over the lead from Junior Johnson
  • Lap 114: Junior Johnson took over the lead from Fireball Roberts
  • Lap 140: Bob Welborn took over the lead from Junior Johnson
  • Lap 180: Junior Johnson took over the lead from Bob Welborn
  • Lap 197: Bob Welborn took over the lead from Junior Johnson
  • Lap 198: Junior Johnson took over the lead from Bob Welborn
  • Lap 200: Bob Welborn took over the lead from Junior Johnson
  • Lap 204: Junior Johnson took over the lead from Bob Welborn
  • Lap 257: Bob Welborn took over the lead from Junior Johnson
  • Lap 263: Joe Weatherly took over the lead from Bob Welborn
  • Finish: Joe Weatherly was officially declared the winner of the event
  • References

    1961 National 400 Wikipedia


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