1954 NASCAR Grand National Series

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1954 Grand National Series
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The 1954 NASCAR Grand National season (now Sprint Cup Series) consisted of 37 races from February 1, 1954, and to November 1. Lee Petty, driving for Petty Enterprises, won the championship, his first of three in the series.[1]

Season recap[edit]

The 1954 season consisted of 37 events from February 7 through October 24 of the year; opening in West Palm Beach, Florida, with a Herb Thomas victory, and concluding in North Wilkesboro, NC at the North Wilkesboro Speedway with a Hershel McGriff win. While driver Herb Thomas captured the opening event in a Hudson, the year was witness to the increased power of GM, Ford and Chrysler as Hudson slipped in its domination of the sport from previous years.[2] Lee Petty came back to win the second race of the year at Daytona Beach, Florida, in his Chrysler.[2] Petty completed the season with 32 top 10 finishes of the 34 events that he competed in. Through 1953, and up until the Southern 500 in 1954, Petty strung together a streak of 56 consecutive races where he was still running at the end of the race.[3]

While Petty won fewer races (7) than Herb Thomas (12), his consistency in finishing in the top 10 a total of 7 times more often than Thomas proved to be the deciding factor in winning the championship with a 283-point margin. Rising star Buck Baker captured the winners purse a total of 4 times in 1954, and finished third after a 12th-place effort in 1953. Although several of the top stars of the sport had disagreements, and even walked away from NASCAR for a time, the sport showed itself to be larger than any of the individual stars. When Tim Flock was disqualified at Daytona, he quit the sport for a time. Fonty Flock, Al Keller and Hershel McGriff also resigned at various times throughout the year. 1954 saw drivers Petty, Thomas, Baker, Dick Rathman, McGriff, Keller, Jim Paschal, Curtis Turner, Gober Sosbee, John Soares, and Dan Letner all capture at least one victory during the year.[4]

Season highlights[edit]

Twice crowned champion Herb Thomas' season opening victory netted on February him $1,600, which included prize monies from both the Pure Oil Company and Champion Spark Plugs. On February 20 Cotton Owens captured a Modified-Sportsman victory in an event that featured 136 starting entries; the largest ever starting field in a NASCAR event. A day later, Tim Flock reaches the checkered flag first, but is disqualified for using a two-way radio, and Lee Petty is awarded the victory. It was the first time that radios were used in a NASCAR event, and Flock quits after the disqualification.[3]

On February 20, 136 cars took the green flag at a 100-mile event in Daytona; making the event the largest ever starting field in a NASCAR sanctioned event. The following day NASCAR rules that Tim Flock's victory is disqualified due to the use of a two-way radio. On March 28 Dick Rathmann wins a 125-mile race at Oakland Speedway after starting the event in last place. The track was unusual in its configuration in that it consisted of "dirt corners and paved straightaways".

On June 13, NASCAR held its first ever road course event at the airport in Linden, New Jersey, with driver Al Keller coming away with the win a Jaguar as 20 of the 43 starting entries were foreign made autos. The victory was the only win for a foreign manufactured vehicle,[4] until Toyota captured its first victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March 2008.[5]

Races[edit]

Southern 500[edit]

The 1954 Southern 500 was a NASCAR Grand National Series (now Sprint Cup Series) race that took place on September 6, 1954, at Darlington Raceway in the American community of Darlington, South Carolina.

There were 364 laps done on a paved oval track that spanned 1.375 miles (2.213 km). Van Van Wey would make his NASCAR debut in this race; starting in 43rd place and ending in 20th place due to a crash on the 260th lap of the race.[6]

Overall, the race took five hours, sixteen minutes, and one second from the first green flag to the checkered flag. The average speed was 95.026 miles per hour (152.930 km/h) and the pole speed was 108.261 miles per hour (174.229 km/h). There were two cautions for four laps and the margin of victory was twenty-six seconds. Attendance of the race was confirmed at 28,000 people during the start of the race. Notable racers that appeared in the race and didn't finish in the "top ten" included Lee Petty (whose streak of 36 top-ten finishes ended at this race), Cotton Owens, Jimmie Lewallen, Ralph Liguori, Arden Mounts, Elmo Langley (in his NASCAR debut) and Buck Baker (pole winner).[6]

  1. Herb Thomas
  2. Curtis Turner
  3. Marvin Panch
  4. Johnny Patterson
  5. Jim Paschal
  6. John Soares
  7. Fireball Roberts
  8. Gwyn Staley
  9. Joel Million
  10. Speedy Thompson

Mid-South 250[edit]

The 1954 Mid-South 250 was a NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup Series) race that took place on October 10, 1954, at Memphis-Arkansas Speedway in the American community of LeHi, Arkansas.

One hundred and sixty seven laps were raced on a dirt track spanning 1.500 miles (2.414 km). Twelve thousand people would attend this live untelevised race where Buck Baker would win in his 1954 Oldsmobile vehicle. Other notable competitors included Lee Petty (who led 150 laps which was considered to be the most laps), Marvin Panch, Jimmie Lewallen, Arden Mounts, and Junior Johnson. The average speed of the race was 89.013 miles per hour (143.253 km/h) and the race took two hours, forty-eight minutes, and fifty-one seconds to complete.

Final championship standings[edit]

First Ten Positions
Position Driver Points Behind
1 Lee Petty 8,649  –
2 Herb Thomas 8,366  –283
3 Buck Baker 6,893  –1,756
4 Dick Rathman 6,760  – 1,889
5 Joe Eubanks 5,467  –3,182
6 Hershel McGriff 5,137  – 3,512
7 Jim Paschal 3,903  – 4,746
8 Jimmie Lewallen 3,233  – 5,416
9 Curtis Turner 2,994  – 5,655
10 Ralph Liguori 2,905  – 5,744
Source:[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Macwatters, Sandra (1 November 2010). "Lee Petty: Telling The Tale Of One Of NASCAR's Newest Hall of Famers". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
  2. ^ a b HowStuffWorks, Inc. "1954 NASCAR Grand National Results". Publications International, Ltd. Retrieved 22 April 2011. 
  3. ^ a b HowStuffWorks, Inc. "1954 NASCAR Grand National Recap". Publications International, Ltd. Retrieved 22 April 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Fleischman, Bill; Al Pearce (2004). "At a Glance: Year-By-Year Summaries". In Visible Ink Press. The Unauthorized NASCAR Fan Guide 2004 (10 ed.). Canyon, Michigan: Checkered Flag Press. pp. 142–143. ISBN 0-681-27587-1. 
  5. ^ Pate, Josh (March 10, 2008). "Atlanta race will always be known as Toyota's first win". nascar.com: Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. p. 1. Retrieved 10 May 2011. 
  6. ^ a b 1954 Southern 500 racing information at Racing Reference
  7. ^ "NASCAR Grand National standings for 1954". Racing-reference.info. Retrieved 22 June 2013.