1955 LeHi 300

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Coordinates: 35°8.31486′N 90°18.9617′W / 35.13858100°N 90.3160283°W / 35.13858100; -90.3160283

1955 LeHi 300
Race details[1]
Race 40 of 45 in the 1955 NASCAR Grand National Series season
Date October 9, 1955 (1955-October-09)
Official name LeHi 300
Location Memphis-Arkansas Speedway (LeHi, Arkansas)
Course Permanent racing facility
1.500 mi (3.000 km)
Distance 200 laps, 300.1 mi (452.8 km)
Weather Mild with temperatures reaching up to 77 °F (25 °C); wind speeds up to 10.1 miles per hour (16.3 km/h)
Average speed 83.948 miles per hour (135.101 km/h)
Attendance 8,500[2]
Pole position
Driver Carl Keikhaefer
Most laps led
Driver Speedy Thompson Pete DePaolo
Laps 158
Winner
No. 297 Speedy Thompson Pete DePaolo

The 1955 LeHi 300 (known officially in NASCAR as 1955-40) was a NASCAR Grand National Series (now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series) event that was held on October 9, 1955, at Memphis-Arkansas Speedway in LeHi, Arkansas.

The race car drivers still had to commute to the races using the same stock cars that competed in a typical weekend's race through a policy of homologation (and under their own power). This policy was in effect until roughly 1975. By 1980, NASCAR had completely stopped tracking the year model of all the vehicles and most teams did not take stock cars to the track under their own power any more.

Background[edit]

The Memphis-Arkansas Speedway was a dirt oval track located just west of West Memphis, Arkansas, United States, in the community of LeHi.

This speedway had a total distance spanning 1.500 miles (2.414 km).[3] Its elevation is 200 feet above sea level and all races used the Central Time Zone.[3] While the track opened on October 7, 1954, it soon ran out of money.[3] Paving the track cost $100,000 ($852,725.12 when adjusted for inflation) and the dirt surface was unmanageable after a certain number of years.[3] As a result, the track was closed permanently in 1957 when it was sold to a local farmer [3] named Clayton Eubanks Sr., who used the abandoned race track for catfish, rice, and soybeans for a number of years. The proposed Interstate highway that was being built near the abandoned rack track was not finished in time to save it.

Summary[edit]

The 200-lap race took three hours and thirty-four minutes to complete in front of 8500 live spectators.[2] Speedy Thompson defeated Marvin Panch[4] by ¾ of a single lap.[2] Ford would win their first race as a manufacturer since 1950. Fonty Flock earned the pole position with a speed of 100.390 miles per hour (161.562 km/h) while the winner of the race achieved a speed of 83.948 miles per hour (135.101 km/h).[2] Jim Reed was disqualified from the race due to a flagrant violation of the rules and was given the last-place finish on lap 8.[2] All of the 41 drivers on the racing grid were Caucasian American-born males.[2] This was the 40th racing event out of the 45 done in the 1955 NASCAR Grand National Series season.[2]

The total amount of prize winnings that could have been earned from this racing event was $9,120 ($81,536.20 when adjusted for inflation).[5] Smokey Yunick and Carl Kiekhaefer were the two notable crew chiefs that participated in the event.[6]

Tiny Lund would make his career start during this event and would make $60 for his troubles ($536.42 when adjusted for inflation).[2] Other drivers making their NASCAR Cup Series debut in this race included Johnny Allen, Bill Morton, Jim Murray, Norm Nelson, and Chuck Stevenson.[7] A lot of drivers would make their grand exits from NASCAR after this race: this relatively long list included Floyd Curtis, Hooker Hood, Roscoe Rann and Leland Sewell.[7] One-time race car drivers Bob Coleman, Al Hager, and Gene Rose would make their only NASCAR appearances during this race.[7]

Even during the 1950s, it was unusual to see four cars fail to finish the race due to problems with the vapor lock. It occurs when the liquid fuel changes state from liquid to gas while still in the fuel delivery system. This disrupts the operation of the fuel pump, causing loss of feed pressure to the carburetor, resulting in transient loss of power or complete stalling. Restarting the engine from this state may be difficult. The fuel can vaporize due to being heated by the engine, by the local climate or due to a lower boiling point at high altitude.

Qualifying[edit]

Grid No. Driver Manufacturer
1 301 Fonty Flock '55 Chrysler
2 300 Tim Flock '55 Chrysler
3 87 Buck Baker '55 Ford
4 99 Billy Carden '55 Ford
5 95 Curtis Turner '55 Ford
6 98 Marvin Panch '55 Ford
7 92 Herb Thomas '55 Chevrolet
8 86 Joe Weatherly '55 Ford
8 308 Bob Flock '55 Chrysler
10 297 Speedy Thompson '55 Ford

Top ten finishers[edit]

Pos[2] Grid No. Driver Manufacturer Laps Winnings Laps led
1 10 297 Speedy Thompson Ford 200 $2,900 158
2 6 98 Marvin Panch Ford 200 $1,450 0
3 12 04 Jimmy Massey Chevrolet 196 $1,000 0
4 2 300 Tim Flock Chrysler 195 $850 42
5 8 308 Bob Flock Chrysler 195 $650 0
6 3 87 Buck Baker Ford 194 $525 0
7 18 18 Jimmie Lewallen Oldsmobile 190 $400 0
8 25 44 Ralph Liguori Chevrolet 189 $350 0
9 14 B-29 Dink Widenhouse Ford 185 $250 0
10 20 49 Bob Welborn Chevrolet 183 $225 0

Timeline[edit]

  • Start of race: Tim Flock started the race with the pole position
  • Lap 3: A piston located inside Ted Cannady's vehicle stopped working properly
  • Lap 5: Radiator issues forced Fonty Flock into the sidelines for the remainder of the race
  • Lap 8: Jim Reed was disqualified from the race
  • Lap 10: The radiator on Floyd Curtis' vehicle no longer worked properly
  • Lap 13: The gasket on Eddie Skinner's vehicle fell off
  • Lap 19: The vapor lock on Curtis Turner's vehicle acted in an unusual manner
  • Lap 22: Russ Graham's vehicle overheated; Bill Widenhouse's radiator started acting strangely
  • Lap 27: Dave Terrell had a terminal crash
  • Lap 29: Joe Weatherly's vehicle developed vapor lock issues
  • Lap 38: Gwyn Staley's fuel pump started acting funny, forcing him off the track
  • Lap 43: Speedy Thompson takes over the lead from Tim Flock
  • Lap 46: Johnny Mantz suddenly had problems with his vapor lock along with Joe Eubanks
  • Lap 55: Billy Carden had a terminal crash
  • Lap 63: Jim Murray's fuel pump was giving him problems
  • Lap 65: Tiny Lund had a terminal crash
  • Lap 123: Bill Morton had a terminal crash
  • Lap 132: The rear end of Herb Thomas' vehicle fell off, forcing him to leave the event
  • Lap 162: Norm Nelson's engine became problematic, causing him to exit the race early
  • Finish: Speedy Thompson was declared the winner of the race

References[edit]

  1. ^ "1955 LeHi 300 weather information". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2012-09-03. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "1955 LeHi 300 information". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2011-02-16. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Basic information". NA-Motorsports. Retrieved 2010-05-04. 
  4. ^ "1955 LeHi 300 race winner". Mcubed.net. Retrieved 2011-02-18. 
  5. ^ "1955 LeHi 300 total prize winnings information". Everything Stock Car. Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  6. ^ "1955 LeHi 300 crew chief information". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2017-07-04. 
  7. ^ a b c "1955 Memphis-Arkansas Speedway results". Race Database. Retrieved 2012-03-10.