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The 1961 Rebel 300 was a NASCAR Grand National Series (now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series) event that was held on May 6, 1961, at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina. Two hundred and nineteen laps were run on an oval track spanning 1.375 miles (2.213 km).[2]

1961 Rebel 300
Race details[1][2]
Race 8 of 28 in the 1961 NASCAR Grand National Series season
Layout of Darlington Raceway
Layout of Darlington Raceway
Date May 6, 1961 (1961-May-06)
Official name Rebel 300
Location Darlington Raceway
Darlington, South Carolina, U.S.
Course Permanent racing facility
1.366 mi (2.198 km)
Distance 219 laps, 301.3 mi (606.7 km)
Weather Very hot with temperatures of 82 °F (28 °C); wind speeds up to 11.1 miles per hour (17.9 km/h)
Average speed 119.520 miles per hour (192.349 km/h)
Pole position
Driver Holman-Moody
Time 153.530 seconds
Most laps led
Driver Fireball Roberts Smokey Yunick
Laps 108
No. 28 Fred Lorenzen Holman-Moody
Television in the United States
Network untelevised
Announcers none

Just months prior to the race, the Friendship Nine picketed McCrory's on Main Street in Rock Hill to protest the segregated lunch counters at the business. They walked in, took seats at the counter and ordered hamburgers, soft drinks and coffee. The students were refused service and ordered to leave. When they didn't, they were arrested.[3] The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s avoided NASCAR until Wendell Scott reached NASCAR success at the 1964 Jacksonville 200.

Race reportEdit

There was only one caution as Fred Lorenzen defeated Curtis Turner by six car lengths.[2] Thirty-two thousand people attended this two-and-a-half-hour-long race.[2] Speeds were 119.520 miles per hour (192.349 km/h) for the average speed and 128.965 miles per hour (207.549 km/h) for the pole speed.[2] The winner received the top prize of $8,420 ($70,595 when adjusted for inflation) while the last-place finisher (32nd) received $200 ($1,677 when adjusted for inflation).[2] Ford had the winning vehicle while Chevrolet's fastest entry was third place.[2]

There were two entries by a 1959 Thunderbird and Pontiac would have its best finish of fourth place.[2] The Dodge driven by Bobby Waddell would finish in 29th and be the only entry for that manufacturer.[2] Most of the DNFs were caused by crashes (the rest were caused by engines, handling, and oil pressure).[2] Richard Petty would be noted for finishing in last place.[2] This would be one of fifteen times in his 35-year-long NASCAR Cup Series career that he would finish a race in the last place position.[4] However, his final last-place finish would be at the 1989 Holly Farms 400 race at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Winnings totaled $30,625 ($256,766 when adjusted for inflation) collectively spread throughout the qualifying drivers.[5] Notable crew chiefs for this race were Shorty Johns, Roy Burdick, Mario Rossi, Smokey Yunick and Ray Fox.[6]

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 away by trucks.


Grid No. Driver Manufacturer Qualifying time[7] Speed[7] Owner
1 28 Fred Lorenzen '61 Ford 153.530 128.965 Holman-Moody
2 22 Fireball Roberts '61 Pontiac 154.270 128.346 Smokey Yunick
3 94 Banjo Matthews '61 Ford 155.580 127.265 Banjo Matthews
4 8 Joe Weatherly '61 Pontiac 156.340 126.647 Bud Moore
5 72 Bobby Johns '61 Ford 156.380 126.614 Shorty Johns
6 6 Ralph Earnhardt '61 Pontiac 156.450 126.558 Cotton Owens
7 29 Nelson Stacy '61 Ford 156.890 126.203 Dudley Farrell
8 21 Curtis Turner '61 Ford 156.890 126.203 Wood Brothers
9 69 Johnny Allen '61 Chevrolet 157.200 125.954 B.G. Holloway
10 53 Bob Burdick '61 Pontiac 157.920 125.379 Roy Burdick

Finishing orderEdit

Section reference: [2]

  1. Fred Lorenzen (No. 28)
  2. Curtis Turner (No. 21)
  3. Johnny Allen (No. 69)
  4. Bob Burdick (No. 53)
  5. Fireball Roberts (No. 22)
  6. Marvin Panch (No. 3)
  7. Ralph Earnhardt (No. 6)
  8. Banjo Matthews (No. 94)
  9. Bobby Johns (No. 72)
  10. Ned Jarrett (No. 11)
  11. Nelson Stacy (No. 29)
  12. Larry Frank (No. 47)
  13. Emanuel Zervakis (No. 85)
  14. Jimmy Pardue (No. 54)
  15. Joe Weatherly (No. 8)
  16. Dave Mader (No. 00)
  17. G.C. Spencer (No. 48)
  18. Tommy Irwin (race car driver) (No. 2)
  19. Larry Flynn (No. 82)
  20. Buck Baker (No. 87)
  21. Ed Livingston (No. 68)
  22. Curtis Crider (No. 62)
  23. Ed Markstellar (No. 38)
  24. Rex White* (No. 4)
  25. Buddy Baker* (No. 86)
  26. Jimmy Thompson* (No. 55)
  27. Tom Dill* (No. 52)
  28. Paul Lewis* (No. 1)
  29. Bobby Waddell* (No. 71)
  30. Tim Flock* (No. 15)
  31. Elmo Langley* (No. 61)
  32. Richard Petty* (No. 43)

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


Section reference: [2]

  • Start of race: Fred Lorenzen officially started the event with the pole position
  • Lap 10: Fred Lorenzen took over the lead from Fireball Roberts before losing it to Joe Weatherly on lap 72
  • Lap 11: Richard Petty's engine problems forced him out of the race
  • Lap 14: Elmo Langley vehicle wasn't able to handle itself properly
  • Lap 16: Vehicle handling issues took Tim Flock out of the race
  • Lap 22: Bobby Waddell's vehicle had terrible oil pressure
  • Lap 38: Oil pressure issues forced Bobby Waddell to leave the track prematurely
  • Lap 46: Tom Dill had a terminal crash; forcing him to retire from the race
  • Lap 62: Jimmy Thompson had a terminal crash; forcing him to retire from the race
  • Lap 81: Fireball Roberts took over the lead from Banjo Matthews before losing it to Curtis Turner on lap 143
  • Lap 115: Buddy Baker had a terminal crash; forcing him to retire from the race
  • Lap 157: Fireball Roberts took over the lead from Johnny Allen before losing it to Curtis Turner on lap 199
  • Lap 173: Rex White had a terminal crash; forcing him to retire from the race
  • Lap 199: Curtis Turner took over the lead from Fireball Roberts before losing it to eventual race-winner Fred Lorenzen on lap 218
  • Lap 218: Fred Lorenzen took over the lead from Curtis Turner; becoming the move that would cause Lorenzen to win the event
  • Finish: Fred Lorenzen was officially declared the winner of the race


  1. ^ Weather information for the 1961 Rebel 300 at The Old Farmers' Almanac
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m 1961 Rebel 300 at Racing Reference
  3. ^ Lauren Hoyt / The Herald (February 2, 2003). "Activists revive memories of '60s sit-in". Herald Online. Retrieved December 1, 2010. The three men each vividly recounted Jan 31 1961 when they were arrested for a siting at Rock Hill's McCrory's department store and the ensuing 30 days ...
  4. ^ Richard Petty's Last Place finish at LASTCAR
  5. ^ Total purse information for the 1961 Rebel 300 at Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet
  6. ^ 1961 Rebel 300 crew chiefs at Racing Reference
  7. ^ a b Qualifying information at Racing Reference