Neha Patil (Editor)

1962 Southern 500

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Official name  Southern 500
1962 Southern 500
Date  September 3, 1962 (1962-September-03)
Location  Darlington Raceway, Darlington, South Carolina
Course  Permanent racing facility 1.366 mi (2.198 km)
Distance  364 laps, 501.3 mi (806.7 km)
Weather  Hot with temperatures reaching 93 °F (34 °C); wind speeds up to 8.9 miles per hour (14.3 km/h)

The 1962 Southern 500, the 13th running of the event, was a NASCAR Grand National Series event that was held on September 3, 1962, at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina.


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. One of the oversights of this race happened to one of the vehicles. Ralph Earnhardt drove the #47 car for Jack Smith. The car had "Jack" written on the roof, but Earnhardt drove the race and was involved in a spin entering turn one.


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.


It took four hours and fourteen minutes to resolve 364 laps. Sixty thousand people would watch Larry Frank defeat Junior Johnson by a time of five seconds; acquiring his only win in the Cup Series. Gary Sain would make his entrance into NASCAR racing at this race while Roscoe Thompson would retire from NASCAR after racing here. Pontiac vehicles were considered to be the preferred manufacturer for this race; especially the 1962 Catalina model. During the race, Richard Petty had the bravado to drive his vehicle to pit road with only three properly working tires.

Matt DeMatthews was the last-place finisher after oil pressure issues forced his 1961 Ford Galaxie out of the race. Fireball Roberts earned the pole position with a speed of 130.246 miles per hour (209.611 km/h) but would finish the race in 36th (out of 44 cars) after crashing on lap 74. Larry Frank's winning speed would be 117.965 miles per hour (189.846 km/h). Johnny Allen had an awful crash but left the race without any injury. Due to a scoring error, Junior Johnson was originally flagged as the winner of this race. Johnson went to victory lane; planning to expand his chicken farm with the money he earned from the race. NASCAR officials managed to catch this error and made Larry Frank the winner instead.

Individual race earnings for each driver ranged from the winner's share of $21,730 ($172,047.10 when adjusted for inflation) to the last-place finisher's share of $400 ($3,167.00 when adjusted for inflation). The total prize purse for this racing event was $71,865 ($568,990.54 when adjusted for inflation). While a kinescope was responsible for filming this race to an audience that couldn't see it live, ABC's Wide World of Sports kept a carbon copy of this race on VHS. For superstition reasons from NASCAR driver Joe Weatherly, this race is historically known as the 12th Revival of the Southern 500 instead of the 13th Southern 500. He would collide with David Pearson although they would go on to finish the race.


  • Start of race: Fireball Roberts officially began the race with the pole position
  • Lap 2: Matt DeMatthews would become the last-place finisher due to oil pressure problems
  • Lap 4: Tom Cox's vehicle had oil pressure issues; causing him to leave the race early
  • Lap 11: Fuel pump problems would force Gary Sain out of the race
  • Lap 14: The engine on Stick Elliott's vehicle gave out; forcing him to retire from the race
  • Lap 15: Bill Champion's vehicle developed transmission issues
  • Lap 39: Roscoe Thompson had a terminal crash; Cale Yarborough managed to overheat his vehicle
  • Lap 58: The distributor on Buddy Baker's vehicle became problematic
  • Lap 59: Bobby Johns took over the lead from Fireball Roberts
  • Lap 74: Fireball Roberts had a terminal crash
  • Lap 76: Richard Petty took over the lead from Bobby Johns
  • Lap 77: Jim Paschal took over the lead from Richard Petty
  • Lap 86: Bobby Johns took over the lead from Jim Paschal
  • Lap 95: Larry Thomas notice that his transmission no longer worked properly
  • Lap 111: Jack Smith had a terminal crash
  • Lap 126: Fred Lorenzen took over the lead from Bobby Johns
  • Lap 157: Richard Petty took over the lead from Fred Lorenzen
  • Lap 161: Junior Johnson took over the lead from Richard Petty; Lee Reitzel would develop problems with his transmission
  • Lap 181: Bunkie Blackburn had a terminal crash
  • Lap 184: Darel Dieringer and Bobby Johns would crash into each other
  • Lap 190: Richard Petty took over the lead from Junior Johnson
  • Lap 196: T.C. Hunt had a terminal crash; forcing him to retire from the race
  • Lap 200: One of the wheel bearings came loose of G.C. Spencer's vehicle
  • Lap 275: Johnny Allen had a terminal crash
  • Lap 280: Larry Frank took over the lead from Richard Petty
  • Lap 291: Engine problems forced Fred Lorenzen out of the race
  • Lap 343: H.G. Rosier's vehicle developed problems in one of its wheels
  • Finish: Larry Frank was officially declared the winner of the event
  • References

    1962 Southern 500 Wikipedia

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