1964 World 600
|Race 25 of 62 in the 1964 NASCAR Grand National Series season|
This is the dangerous crash that would hospitalize Fireball Roberts before he died of pneumonia 39 days later.
|Date||May 24, 1964|
|Location||Charlotte Motor Speedway (Concord, North Carolina)|
|Course||Permanent racing facility
1.500 mi (2.414 km)
|Distance||400 laps, 600 mi (965.5 km)|
|Weather||Temperatures between 64.9 °F (18.3 °C) and 82.0 °F (27.8 °C); wind speed reaching a maximum of 10.10 miles per hour (16.25 km/h)|
|Average speed||125.772 miles per hour (202.410 km/h)|
|Most laps led|
|Driver||Jim Paschal||Petty Enterprises|
|Television in the United States|
|Network||CBS (through local affiliate WBTV)|
The 1964 World 600 is a NASCAR Grand National Series (now Sprint Cup Series) event that took place on May 24, 1964, at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in the American community of Concord, North Carolina.
Despite the traditionalist NASCAR fans protesting that the racing in 1964 was the "Good Old Days," the form of racing found in the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season is considered by modern race fans to be more interesting, safer and faster than the conditions that the stock car drivers faced in the mid-1960s. A lot of the safety concerns that haunted NASCAR in the early years didn't resolve themselves until the 1966 NASCAR Grand National Series season; making stock car competition an arduous event for drivers, team owners and their family members.
The race covered four hundred laps of a paved oval track spanning 1.500 miles (2.414 km). It took four hours, forty-six minutes, and fourteen seconds for the race to go from the first green flag to the checkered flag. Seven cautions were given out by NASCAR officials for forty-eight laps. Notable speeds were: 125.772 miles per hour (202.410 km/h) for the average speed and 144.346 miles per hour (232.302 km/h) for the pole position speed. There was a live attendance of exactly 66,311 racing fans. Miss Linda Vaughn was selected to be Pontiac's representative at this event; she was an adolescent during that time.
Jim Paschal defeated Richard Petty by more than four laps. Other notable drivers included: Ralph Earnhardt, Roy Tyner, Fireball Roberts, Elmo Langley, and Buddy Baker. The top two finishers were teammates at Petty Enterprises (now Richard Petty Motorsports). Jim Paschal would receive $24,785 ($188,467.05 when adjusted for inflation) in prize money after becoming the only driver to finish all 400 laps of the race. Pete Stewart was rewarded with $600 ($4,562.45 when adjusted for inflation) for finishing only one lap; resulting in a last place finish. Billy Wade started in pole position while the winner started in 12th place.
Death of Fireball Roberts
Fireball Roberts ended up in a terrible crash in this race while trying to avoid Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett's crash on lap 7. Roberts was sent to Charlotte hospital by a team of emergency paramedics. While he was not seriously injured by the crash itself, Roberts was trapped when his ankle became pinned up from under the dashboard and caught by either the clutch or brake pedal. The death would have occurred at the speedway if Jarrett hadn't pulled Roberts out in time. Instead, he died in hospital on July 2 of that year; leaving behind a wife (Mrs. Doris Roberts) and a young daughter (Pamela Jane Roberts Trivette). Many fans could hear Roberts screaming "My God, Ned, help me! I'm on fire!" after being caught on fire because of the crash.
Before the fatal accident, Roberts was going to announce his retirement from the NASCAR Cup Series after the race to work as a spokesperson for a beer company. Fireball, as he was known to his racing fans and to his fellow drivers, was the first superstar of the superspeedway era.
He would be followed by Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt, and other drivers who would compete in the Cup Series during the decades that would come after Roberts' death. Doctors ultimately blamed his death on pneumonia and he spent the last 39 days of his life at Charlotte Memorial Hospital (now Carolinas Medical Center) in extremely critical condition. The entire week from April 29 through May 1, 1964 ultimately became one of the darkest weeks in motorsports history as Eddie Sachs and Dave MacDonald were both killed in that year's Indianapolis 500. Actual home video footage of the accident was being recorded as the race occurred. The race was being televised by local CBS affiliate WBTV. Roberts' body was eventually delivered to his burial crypt in Daytona Beach, Florida. One of the quotes that came in an earlier race sometime prior to his death was "I fear fire the most!"
A couple of inventions that would come as a result of Fireball Roberts' death would be the fire suit and a specialized fuel cell for racing. Never again would NASCAR drivers drive for 500 miles in just their most comfortable T-shirt and jeans.
- Jim Paschal†
- Richard Petty
- Rex White
- Fred Lorenzen
- Billy Wade†
- G.C. Spencer†
- Larry Frank†
- David Pearson
- Wendell Scott†
- Jack Anderson
- Curtis Crider
- J.T. Putney
- Darel Dieringer†*
- Worth McMillion
- Doug Cooper
- Roy Tyner
- Bob Derrington
- Bunkie Blackburn†*
- Paul Goldsmith*
- Buck Baker*
- Bill McMahan*
- Ken Spikes*
- Larry Thomas†*
- Jimmy Pardue†*
- Bobby Isaac†*
- LeeRoy Yarbrough†*
- Stick Elliott*
- Cale Yarborough*
- Marvin Panch*
- Roy Mayne*
- Ken Rush*
- Mark Hurley*
- Ned Jarrett*
- Junior Johnson*
- Fireball Roberts†*
- Buddy Baker*
- Ralph Earnhardt†*
- Neil Castles*
- Jimmy Helms*
- Bob Cooper*
- Bud Harless†*
- Elmo Langley†*
- E.J. Trivette*
- Pete Stewart*
† signifies that the driver is known to be deceased
* Driver failed to finish race
- "Concord, North Carolina Weather for May 24, 1964". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
- "1964 World 600 racing information". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
- "1964 World 600". Ultimate Racing History. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
- Amber Dees Haug. "Sometimes change requires a fallen star". Nie World. Archived from the original on 2013-06-20. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
- "Miss Cadillac 1964". Bleacher Report. Archived from the original on 2013-06-20. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
- "NASCAR.com - General Information about the 1964 World 600 and Fireball Roberts' death". NASCAR. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
- "Fireball Roberts Information". FireballRoberts.com. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
- "NASCAR.com - TECHNOLOGY COUNTDOWN: FIRE SUIT, FUEL CELL". NASCAR. Archived from the original on 2013-06-20. Retrieved 2012-06-17.
1964 South Boston Speedway
|NASCAR Grand National Races
1964 Pickens 200
|World 600 races