1957 Southern 500

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1957 Southern 500
Race details[1][2]
Race 40 of 53 in the 1957 NASCAR Grand National Series season
Layout of Darlington Raceway
Layout of Darlington Raceway
Date September 2, 1957 (1957-September-02)
Location Darlington Raceway, Darlington, South Carolina
Course Permanent racing facility
1.375 mi (2.221 km)
Distance 400 laps, 500 mi (800 km)
Weather Hot with temperatures reaching up to 93.3 °F (34.1 °C); wind speed up to 8.9 miles per hour (14.3 km/h)
Average speed 100.094 miles per hour (161.086 km/h)
Attendance 75,000
Pole position
Driver Nichels Engineering
Most laps led
Driver Speedy Thompson Speedy Thompson
Laps 210
No. 46 Speedy Thompson Speedy Thompson
Television in the United States
Network WJMX (local AM radio)
Announcers Local radio announcers

The 1957 Southern 500, the eighth running of the event, was a NASCAR Grand National Series event that was held on September 2, 1957, at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina.

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 anymore.


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.[3] 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.[3] The front stretch (the location of the finish line) and the back stretch is banked at six degrees.[3] Darlington Raceway can seat up to 60,000 people.[3]


The event took five hours and one second to resolve itself on a paved oval track spanning 1.375 miles (2.213 km) for a total distance of 500.5 miles (805.5 km).[2] Seventy-five thousand fans attended this live NASCAR racing event.[2]

As a result, Speedy Thompson defeated Cotton Owens while traveling at a speed of 100.094 miles per hour (161.086 km/h) by simply lapping him three times during the race.[2] Thompson drove the iconic 1957 Chevrolet during that race; that vehicle went on to win the 1958 and the 1959 runnings of the Southern 500. Owens acquired the pole position with a speed of 117.416 miles per hour (188.963 km/h) during the qualifying session, however, due to the abundant amount of clean air created by driving solo.[2] T.A. Toomes received the last-place finish due to a problem with his brakes on lap 3 out of 364.[2] Bobby Myers lost his life as a result of a race-related crash; Fonty Flock and Paul Goldsmith was also involved in this accident.[2][4][5] George Parrish made a notable appearance in this race using a 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk; he witnessed the fatal crash of Bobby Myers at an extremely close range.[6] Since he had two children living at home with his wife, Parrish decided that the risky world of NASCAR racing wasn't for him and retired after the 1958 NASCAR Cup Series season.[6]

As a rookie, Cale Yarborough made his NASCAR debut here and finished in 42nd place (out of 50 drivers).[2] Fonty Flock retired after this race.


Grid No. Driver Manufacturer Qualifying time[7]
1 6 Cotton Owens '57 Pontiac 16.863
2 4 Bobby Myers '57 Oldsmobile 16.922
3 31 Curtis Turner '57 Ford 16.937
4 80 Jimmie Lewallen '57 Pontiac 17.211
5 62 Frankie Schneider '57 Chevrolet 17.228
6 3 Paul Goldsmith '57 Ford 16.598
7 46 Speedy Thompson '57 Chevrolet 16.803
8 42 Lee Petty '57 Oldsmobile 16.845
9 87 Buck Baker '57 Chevrolet 16.919
10 22 Fireball Roberts '57 Ford 17.001

Top forty finishers[edit]


  • Start of race: Cotton Owens officially started the race as the pole position driver
  • Lap 3: Brake problems on T.A. Toomes' vehicle made him the last-place finisher
  • Lap 7: Curtis Turner took over the lead from Cotton Owens
  • Lap 11: Paul Goldsmith took over the lead from Curtis Turner
  • Lap 13: Oil pressure issues managed to bump Neil Castles out of the race
  • Lap 14: Bobby Myers took over the lead from Paul Goldsmith
  • Lap 15: Curtis Turner took over the lead from Bobby Myers
  • Lap 17: Cotton Owens took over the lead from Curtis Turner
  • Lap 18: Fonty Flock had a terminal crash
  • Lap 19: Frankie Schneider's engine stopped working properly
  • Lap 22: One of Gwyn Staley's coil came loose; forcing him to stop racing for the rest of the day
  • Lap 23: One of Chuck Hansen's racing pistons stopped working; forcing him to stop racing for the rest of the day
  • Lap 29: Lee Petty took over the lead from Cotton Owens
  • Lap 37: Joe Weatherly had a terminal crash
  • Lap 41: Fireball Roberts took over the lead from Lee Petty
  • Lap 50: Runt Harris' vehicle had some problems with its clutch; forcing him to exit the race for safety reasons
  • Lap 63: Bill Blair had a terminal crash
  • Lap 66: Joe Caspolich had a terminal crash
  • Lap 70: Lee Petty took over the lead from Fireball Roberts
  • Lap 79: Shorty York blew his engine while racing at high speeds
  • Lap 84: Tom Pistone's vehicle suffered from piston troubles
  • Lap 89: Fireball Roberts took over the lead from Lee Petty
  • Lap 99: Parnelli Jones had a terminal crash
  • Lap 101: Jack Smith took over the lead from Fireball Roberts
  • Lap 102: Bill Amick had a terminal crash
  • Lap 110: Speedy Thompson took over the lead from Jack Smith
  • Lap 130: Bill Champion managed to break the rear end of the vehicle
  • Lap 155: Peck Peckham blew his engine while racing at high speeds
  • Lap 156: The radiator on Bob Duell's vehicle finally gave out
  • Lap 171: Curtis Turner took over the lead from Speedy Thompson
  • Lap 210: Axle problems on Rex White's vehicle managed to force him off the track
  • Lap 215: Whitey Norman blew his engine while racing at high speeds
  • Lap 216: Speedy Thompson took over the lead from Curtis Turner
  • Lap 221: Marvin Porter blew his engine while racing at high speeds
  • Lap 281: Lee Petty had a terminal crash
  • Lap 308: Tiny Lund had a terminal crash
  • Lap 348: Jack Smith had a terminal crash
  • Finish: Speedy Thompson was officially declared the winner of the event


  1. ^ "1957 Southern 500 weather information". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2011-11-25. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "1957 Southern 500 racing results". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2011-03-08. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Darlington Raceway". CBS Sports. Retrieved 2013-05-07. 
  4. ^ "Bobby Myers's fatal crash". How Stuff Works. Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
  5. ^ "Bobby Myers's fatal crash (second reference)". Legends of NASCAR. Retrieved 2011-03-10. 
  6. ^ a b "The Studebaker Golden Hawk @ the 1957 Southern 500". Studebaker Racing. Retrieved 2011-03-10. 
  7. ^ "1957 Southern 500 qualifying results". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2017-03-29. 
Preceded by
Southern 500 races
Succeeded by