Open main menu

The 1952 Southern 500, the third running of the event, was a NASCAR Grand National Series event that was held on September 1, 1952, at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina.

1952 Southern 500
Race details[1][2]
Race 25 of 34 in the 1952 NASCAR Grand National Series season
Fonty Flock makes his way into "Winner's Circle" with the help of crew chief Red Vogt.
Fonty Flock makes his way into "Winner's Circle" with the help of crew chief Red Vogt.
Date September 1, 1952 (1952-September-01)
Official name Southern 500
Location Darlington Raceway, Darlington, South Carolina
Course Permanent racing facility
1.375 mi (2.213 km)
Distance 500 laps, 500.0 mi (804.6 km)
Weather Extremely hot with temperatures of 91 °F (33 °C); wind speeds of 11.1 miles per hour (17.9 km/h)
Average speed 74.512 miles per hour (119.915 km/h)
Attendance 32,400
Pole position
Driver Frank Christian
Most laps led
Driver Fonty Flock Frank Christian
Laps 341
Winner
No. 14 Fonty Flock Frank Christian
Television in the United States
Network untelevised
Announcers none

BackgroundEdit

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]

Darlington has something of a legendary quality among drivers and older fans; this is probably due to its long track length relative to other NASCAR speedways of its era and hence the first venue where many of them became cognizant of the truly high speeds that stock cars could achieve on a long track. The track allegedly earned the moniker The Lady in Black because the night before the race the track maintenance crew would cover the entire track with fresh asphalt sealant, in the early years of the speedway, thus making the racing surface dark black. Darlington is also known as "The Track Too Tough to Tame" because drivers can run lap after lap without a problem and then bounce off of the wall the following lap. Racers will frequently explain that they have to race the racetrack, not their competition. Drivers hitting the wall are considered to have received their "Darlington Stripe" thanks to the missing paint on the right side of the car.

Race reportEdit

Seven cautions were waved for forty laps in front of 32,400 audience members.[2] The race's speed was 74.512 miles per hour (119.915 km/h) and 88.550 miles per hour (142.507 km/h) as the pole position speed.[2] This race was constantly threatened to be postponed because of rain and was red flagged once because of actual rainfall.[4] It took six hours, forty-two minutes, and thirty-seven seconds for the race to reach its conclusion, making it the longest Southern 500 ever; Fonty Flock was the winner.[2] He would stop on the front straight, climb up on his hood and lead the entire crowd in singing his own version of the classic Southern American song Dixie.[4] In today's political climate, Darlington Raceway and everyone associated with it would be blacklisted and boycotted if Dixie were sung.

Flock's uniform would consist of Bermuda shorts and argyle socks in addition to a pencil-thin moustache reminiscent of Clark Gable.[5][6]

Total winnings for this race were $23,855 ($225,068 when adjusted for inflation). Sixty-six drivers competed; all of them were born in the United States.[2] Jim Paschal was the last place driver of the race; finishing in 66th with an engine problem on lap 18. Jimmy Ingram flipped his vehicle over on lap 91. In four attempts this was Tommy Thompson's best finish at Darlington.[2]

Ranier-Lundy Racing and Petty Enterprises were the only non-independent racing teams to show up for this race.[7]

Tony Bonadies, Johnny Bridgers, Merritt Brown, Johnny Gouveia, Keith Hamner, Possum Jones, Pete Kelly, Banjo Matthews and Joe Weatherly made their NASCAR Grand National Series debut in this event. Roy Hall, Rudy Hires, Jimmy Ingram, Bill Miller, E. C. Ramsey and Rollin Smith would never race in professional stock car racing after this race. W. E. Baker, Al Conroy, Al Fleming and Herb Fry would make their only NASCAR appearances at this race.[8] Red Vogt, Julian Buesink and B.B. Blackburn were the three notable crew chiefs at this event.[9]

Finishing orderEdit

Section reference:[2]

TimelineEdit

Section reference:[2]

  • Start of race: Fonty Flock has the pole position
  • Lap 18: Tommy Thompson took over the lead from Fonty Flock, Jim Paschal blew his vehicle's engine
  • Lap 21: Clyde Minter managed to lose the front end of his vehicle
  • Lap 22: Slick Smith's engine stopped functioning properly
  • Lap 28: Merritt Brown managed to blow his vehicle's engine
  • Lap 32: Gene Darragh had a terminal crash
  • Lap 35: Curtis Turner had a terminal crash
  • Lap 37: Tommy Thompson managed to blow his vehicle's engine
  • Lap 38: Fonty Flock takes over the lead from Tommy Thompson
  • Lap 61: Johnny Gouveia managed to overheat his vehicle's vital parts
  • Lap 74: Gwyn Staley managed to overheat his vehicle's vital parts
  • Lap 91: Jimmy Ingram caused a terminal crash by flipping his vehicle over
  • Lap 105: Dick Rathmann takes over the lead from Fonty Flock
  • Lap 125: Weldon Adams had a terminal crash
  • Lap 139: Larry Mann managed to lose the rear end of his vehicle
  • Lap 140: Fonty Flock takes over the lead from Dick Rathmann, Bob Pronger managed to blow his vehicle's engine
  • Lap 142: Bucky Sager managed to lose his left front wheel while racing at high speeds
  • Lap 145: Bobby Myers blew his vehicle's engine
  • Lap 162: Pete Kelly managed to overwork his vehicle's engine
  • Lap 168: Jimmy Lewallen made his vehicle's engine nonfunctional
  • Lap 174: Fireball Roberts had a really nasty time with his vehicle's engine
  • Lap 181: Herb Thomas takes over the lead from Fonty Flock
  • Lap 182: Roy Hall managed to exhaust all of his vehicle's tires while running out of gas at the same time
  • Lap 185: Fonty Flock takes over the lead from Herb Thomas
  • Lap 193: Possum Jones managed to overheat his vehicle's vital parts
  • Lap 223: Bill Blair managed to overheat his vehicle's vital parts
  • Lap 240: Tommy Moon managed to overheat his vehicle's vital parts
  • Lap 244: Johnny Bridgers managed to overheat his vehicle's vital parts
  • Lap 254: Lamar Crabtree managed to blow a piston while he was racing
  • Lap 256: Ralph Liguori managed to overheat his vehicle's vital parts
  • Lap 315: Dick Rathmann had a terminal crash
  • Lap 321: Tim Flock had a terminal crash
  • Lap 383: Jimmy Thompson had a terminal crash
  • Finish: Fonty Flock was officially declared the winner of the event

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "1952 Southern 500 weather information". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2012-12-15.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "1952 Southern 500 information". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2011-02-20.
  3. ^ a b c d "Darlington Raceway". CBS Sports. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
  4. ^ a b "1952 Southern 500 information (weather/additional race reference)". Motor Racing Network. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
  5. ^ "Fonty Flock's Racing Uniform @ the 1952 Southern 500". Georgia Racing History. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
  6. ^ "Fonty Flock's Racing Uniform @ the 1952 Southern 500 (second reference)". Encyclopedia of Alabama. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
  7. ^ "1952 Southern 500 NASCAR racing teams information". Driver Averages. Retrieved 2012-12-15.
  8. ^ Notable drivers at Race Database
  9. ^ "1952 Southern 500 crew chief information". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2017-07-10.
Preceded by
1951
Southern 500 races
1952
Succeeded by
1953