| World 600|
| May 28, 1961 (1961-May-28)|
Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, North Carolina
Permanent racing facility
1.500 mi (2.414 km)
400 laps, 600 mi (965 km)
Mild with temperatures reaching up to 73 °F (23 °C); wind speeds up to 10.1 miles per hour (16.3 km/h)
The 1961 World 600, the second running of the event, was a NASCAR Grand National Series event that took place on May 28, 1961, at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. Chris Economaki called the race in one of the few televised NASCAR races of the 1960s. A series of two qualifying events took place on May 21 to determine the starting grid for this prestigious racing event.
This race began a streak of 1856 consecutive races where at least one of the drivers in the race was from North Carolina. The streak would come to an end after Dale Earnhardt, Jr. did not race in the 2012 Bank of America 500 at Charlotte after getting a concussion after the previous race at Talladega; Scott Riggs failed to qualify for that same race, and Mark Martin raced in Michael Waltrip's #55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota instead of Brian Vickers for that same race.
1961 World 600 Wikipedia
Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) quad-oval track located in Concord, North Carolina, was the location for the race. The track's turns were banked at twenty-four degrees, while the front stretch, the location of the finish line, was five degrees. The back stretch, opposite of the front, also had a five degree banking. Charlotte Motor Speedway hosted the NASCAR Grand National Series twice during the season, with the other race being the National 400. The track opened for the inaugural World 600 one year earlier, and was built by Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner. Around 46,538 spectators attended the race.
Four hundred laps were done over a paved oval track spanning 1.500 miles (2.414 km) with a time of five hours, twenty-two minutes, and twenty-nine seconds. Seven cautions were done for fifty-seven laps with the result of David Pearson defeating Fireball Roberts by more than two laps for his first NASCAR Cup series victory. He and Richard Petty would both acquire wins in what is now called the Coca-Cola 600 (but in different years). There were fifty-five competitors; Cafe Burgundy, Daytona Kennel, and Holly Farms were the main sponsors for some of the drivers. Even though there were 55 cars in the event, only 19 vehicles were allowed to qualify during each pre-race qualifying session.
The average speed was 111.633 miles per hour (179.656 km/h) while the pole position speed was 131.611 miles per hour (211.807 km/h).
Attendance for this race was 46,538 people and the top prize was $24,280 ($194,591.49 when adjusted for inflation). The last place competitor received $200 ($1,602.90 when adjusted for inflation). Popular competitors for this race included: Ralph Earnhardt (who promised to be a very competitive driver early in the race), Ned Jarrett, Tiny Lund, Junior Johnson, Joe Weatherly, Richard Petty, and Roy Tyner. A terrible crash occurred in this race to driver Reds Kagle; he would lose a leg in this race and Charlotte Motor Speedway would lose 20 feet or 6.1 metres of steel guardrail in the process.
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.
Note: * denotes that the driver failed to finish the race.Start: Joe Weatherly was leading the pack as the cars officially crossed the start/finish line
Lap 2: David Pearson took over the lead from Joe Weatherly
Lap 3: Joe Weatherly took over the lead from David Pearson
Lap 16: Ralph Earnhardt took over the lead from Joe Weatherly
Lap 34: Jack Smith took over the lead from Ralph Earnhardt
Lap 37: Ralph Earnhardt took over the lead from Jack Smith
Lap 49: David Pearson took over the lead from Ralph Earnhardt
Lap 53: Ralph Earnhardt took over the lead from David Pearson
Lap 70: David Pearson took over the lead from Ralph Earnhardt
Lap 81: Ned Jarrett took over the lead from David Pearson
Lap 111: Ralph Earnhardt took over the lead from Ned Jarrett
Lap 139: David Pearson took over the lead from Ralph Earnhardt
Lap 178: Richard Petty took over the lead from David Pearson
Lap 201: Fireball Roberts took over the lead from Richard Petty
Lap 207: David Pearson took over the lead from Fireball Roberts
Lap 248: Richard Petty took over the lead from David Pearson
Lap 272: David Pearson took over the lead from Richard Petty
Finish: David Pearson was officially declared the winner of the event