1961 World 600

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1961 World 600
Race details[1]
Race 24 of 52 in the 1961 NASCAR Grand National Series season
Layout of Charlotte Motor Speedway
Layout of Charlotte Motor Speedway
Date May 28, 1961 (1961-May-28)
Official name World 600
Location Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, North Carolina
Course Permanent racing facility
1.500 mi (2.414 km)
Distance 400 laps, 600 mi (965 km)
Weather Mild with temperatures reaching up to 73 °F (23 °C); wind speeds up to 10.1 miles per hour (16.3 km/h)
Average speed 111.633 miles per hour (179.656 km/h)
Attendance 46,538[2]
Pole position
Driver Petty Enterprises
Most laps led
Driver David Pearson John Masoni
Laps 225
No. 3 David Pearson John Masoni
Television in the United States
Network ABC
Announcers Chris Economaki

The 1961 World 600, the second running of the event, was a NASCAR Grand National Series event that took place on May 28, 1961, at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. Chris Economaki called the race in one of the few televised NASCAR races of the 1960s. A series of two qualifying events took place on May 21 to determine the starting grid for this prestigious racing event.

This race began a streak of 1856 consecutive races where at least one of the drivers in the race was from North Carolina. The streak would come to an end after Dale Earnhardt, Jr. did not race in the 2012 Bank of America 500 at Charlotte after getting a concussion after the previous race at Talladega; Scott Riggs failed to qualify for that same race, and Mark Martin raced in Michael Waltrip's #55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota instead of Brian Vickers for that same race.


Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) quad-oval track located in Concord, North Carolina, was the location for the race.[3] The track's turns were banked at twenty-four degrees, while the front stretch, the location of the finish line, was five degrees.[4] The back stretch, opposite of the front, also had a five degree banking.[4] Charlotte Motor Speedway hosted the NASCAR Grand National Series twice during the season, with the other race being the National 400. The track opened for the inaugural World 600 one year earlier, and was built by Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner. Around 46,538 spectators attended the race.


Four hundred laps were done over a paved oval track spanning 1.500 miles (2.414 km) with a time of five hours, twenty-two minutes, and twenty-nine seconds.[2] Seven cautions were done for fifty-seven laps with the result of David Pearson defeating Fireball Roberts by more than two laps for his first NASCAR Cup series victory.[2] He and Richard Petty would both acquire wins in what is now called the Coca-Cola 600 (but in different years). There were fifty-five competitors; Cafe Burgundy, Daytona Kennel, and Holly Farms were the main sponsors for some of the drivers.[2] Even though there were 55 cars in the event, only 19 vehicles were allowed to qualify during each pre-race qualifying session.

The average speed was 111.633 miles per hour (179.656 km/h) while the pole position speed was 131.611 miles per hour (211.807 km/h).[2] The qualifying races only set the front row (which is the opposite of what happens before the Daytona 500). A lot of drivers chose not to participate in qualifying.

Attendance for this race was 46,538 people and the top prize was $24,280 ($194,591.49 when adjusted for inflation).[2] The last place competitor received $200 ($1,602.90 when adjusted for inflation).[2] Popular competitors for this race included: Ralph Earnhardt (who promised to be a very competitive driver early in the race), Ned Jarrett, Tiny Lund, Junior Johnson, Joe Weatherly, Richard Petty, and Roy Tyner. A terrible crash occurred in this race to driver Reds Kagle; he would lose a leg in this race and Charlotte Motor Speedway would lose 20 feet or 6.1 metres of steel guardrail in the process.[2][5]

The transition to purpose-built racecars 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.


Grid No. Driver Manufacturer
1 43 Richard Petty '61 Plymouth
2 8 Joe Weatherly '61 Pontiac
3 3 David Pearson '61 Pontiac
4 20 Marvin Panch '60 Pontiac
5 28 Fred Lorenzen '61 Ford
6 6 Ralph Earnhardt '61 Pontiac
7 18 Tommy Irwin '61 Pontiac
8 4 Rex White '61 Chevrolet
9 16 Speedy Thompson '61 Ford
10 22 Fireball Roberts '61 Pontiac

Finishing order[edit]

  1. David Pearson (only car to finish on lead lap - raced with a 1961 Pontiac Catalina)
  2. Fireball Roberts (also drive a 1961 Pontiac Catalina vehicle)
  3. Rex White (highest finishing Chevrolet)
  4. Ned Jarrett
  5. Jim Paschal
  6. Tiny Lund
  7. Jack Smith
  8. Bob Welborn
  9. Junior Johnson (sponsored by Holly Farms)
  10. Joe Weatherly
  11. Ralph Earnhardt
  12. Paul Lewis
  13. Joe Eubanks (highest finishing Ford Galaxie vehicle)
  14. T.C. Hunt (highest finishing Dodge)
  15. Emanuel Zervakis
  16. Lee Reitzel
  17. Elmo Langley (highest finishing Ford Thunderbird vehicle)
  18. Friday Hassler
  19. Bobby Johns
  20. Tommy Irwin* (highest ranking driver not to finish the race - driveshaft problems)
  21. Bobby Waddell
  22. Ed Markstellar
  23. Doug Yates
  24. Herman Beam
  25. Wes Morgan
  26. Buddy Baker*
  27. Bob Burdick*
  28. Banjo Matthews*
  29. Tubby Gonzales*
  30. Richard Petty*
  31. G.C. Spencer (lowest finishing driver to finish the race - 75 laps behind)
  32. Bob Barron*
  33. Johnny Allen*
  34. Reds Kagle*
  35. Fred Lorenzen*
  36. Roy Tyner*
  37. Tim Flock (his final NASCAR Cup race before retiring[6])
  38. Ed Livingston*
  39. Jimmy Pardue*
  40. Curtis Crider*
  41. Speedy Thompson*
  42. Buck Baker*
  43. Marvin Panch*
  44. Curtis Turner*
  45. Marvin Porter*
  46. Nelson Stacy*
  47. Jimmy Thompson*
  48. Gene Stokes*
  49. Jim Reed*
  50. Roscoe Thompson*
  51. Bobby Allison*
  52. Joe Lee Johnson*
  53. Larry Frank*
  54. Doug Cox*
  55. E.J. Trivette*

Note: * denotes that the driver failed to finish the race.


  • Start: Joe Weatherly was leading the pack as the cars officially crossed the start/finish line
  • Lap 2: David Pearson took over the lead from Joe Weatherly
  • Lap 3: Joe Weatherly took over the lead from David Pearson
  • Lap 16: Ralph Earnhardt took over the lead from Joe Weatherly
  • Lap 34: Jack Smith took over the lead from Ralph Earnhardt
  • Lap 37: Ralph Earnhardt took over the lead from Jack Smith
  • Lap 49: David Pearson took over the lead from Ralph Earnhardt
  • Lap 53: Ralph Earnhardt took over the lead from David Pearson
  • Lap 70: David Pearson took over the lead from Ralph Earnhardt
  • Lap 81: Ned Jarrett took over the lead from David Pearson
  • Lap 111: Ralph Earnhardt took over the lead from Ned Jarrett
  • Lap 139: David Pearson took over the lead from Ralph Earnhardt
  • Lap 178: Richard Petty took over the lead from David Pearson
  • Lap 201: Fireball Roberts took over the lead from Richard Petty
  • Lap 207: David Pearson took over the lead from Fireball Roberts
  • Lap 248: Richard Petty took over the lead from David Pearson
  • Lap 272: David Pearson took over the lead from Richard Petty
  • Finish: David Pearson was officially declared the winner of the event


  1. ^ "Weather information for the 1961 World 600". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2012-09-05. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Racing information for the 1961 World 600". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2012-09-05. 
  3. ^ "NASCAR Race Tracks". NASCAR.com. NASCAR Media Group. Archived from the original on June 3, 2011. Retrieved May 24, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b "NASCAR Tracks—The Charlotte Motor Speedway". Charlotte Motor Speedway. Archived from the original on April 28, 2011. Retrieved May 24, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Reds Kagle crashes in 1961 World 600 at Charlotte". Daily Motion. Retrieved 2012-09-06. 
  6. ^ "Tim Flock's retirement". Race Database. Retrieved 2012-09-05. 
Preceded by
1961 untitled race at Ascot Stadium
NASCAR Grand National Races
Succeeded by
1961 untitled race at Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds