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1961 Wilkes 200

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Official name  Wilkes 200
1961 Wilkes 200
Date  October 1, 1961 (1961-October-01)
Location  North Wilkesboro Speedway, North Wilkesboro, North Carolina
Course  Permanent racing facility 0.625 mi (1.005 km)
Distance  320 laps, 200 mi (250 km)
Weather  Mild with temperatures reaching up to 77 °F (25 °C); winds speeds approaching 13 miles per hour (21 km/h)

The 1961 Wilkes 200 was a NASCAR Grand National Series (now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series) event that was held on October 1, 1961, at North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina.



The race took two hours and twenty-two minutes in order to resolve 320 laps in front of 9000 live audience members; with a track spanning 0.625 miles (1.006 km) for 200 miles (320 km) of racing action. Four cautions were given out for 24 laps. The average speed of the race was 84.675 miles per hour (136.271 km/h) while the pole position speed was established by Junior Johnson who qualified with a speed of 94.540 miles per hour (152.147 km/h). Rex White managed to defeat Fireball Roberts by at least one lap. Joe Jones was the last-place finisher of the race. The other finishers in the top ten were: Richard Petty, Junior Johnson, Ned Jarrett, Emanuel Zervakis, Jimmy Pardue, Joe Weatherly, Bill Morton, and Doug Yates.

Most of the drivers on this 30-car grid were driving cars belonging to the Chevrolet (13) and Pontiac (7) manufacturers (with Ford (4), Dodge and Plymouth (2 each) and Mercury (1) making up the rest of the field ). All the drivers who qualified for the race were American-born males; there were no foreigners or women in this racing event. Banjo Matthews would never race at Wilkes Motor Speedway again after this race.

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.


  • Start of race: Junior Johnson started the race with the pole position
  • Lap 2: Joe Jones had problems handling his vehicle, forcing him out of the race
  • Lap 8: Ken Rush's engine became problematic
  • Lap 26: Harry Leake engine's developed some major issues, causing him to leave the race
  • Lap 28: Buck Baker would be sidelined for the remainder of the race due to troubles with his engine
  • Lap 80: Joe Weatherly gained the lead from Junior Johnson
  • Lap 81: Junior Johnson managed to regain the lead from Joe Weatherly
  • Lap 120: Rex White gained the lead from Junior Johnson while John Hamby retired from the race due to transmission problems
  • Lap 189: Faulty oil pressure readings forced Cotton Owens to quit racing for the day
  • Lap 190: A faulty piston ended Jack Smith's day on the track
  • Lap 194: G.C. Spencer had a terminal crash, forcing him to retire from the race prematurely
  • Lap 198: Johnny Allen had a terminal crash, causing him to leave the event early
  • Lap 241: Fred Harb's troublesome engine brought his race to a premature end
  • Lap 253: L.D. Austin's overheating vehicle made him leave the race with a somewhat respectable 17th-place finish
  • Lap 296: Tommy Irwin had a terminal crash, allowing him to secure a respectable 11th-place finish in the process
  • Finish: Rex White was officially declared the winner of the event
  • References

    1961 Wilkes 200 Wikipedia

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