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The 1967 Gwyn Staley 400 was a NASCAR Grand National Series (now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series) event that was held on April 16, 1967, at North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina.

1967 Gwyn Staley 400
Race details[1][2]
Race 13 of 49 in the 1967 NASCAR Grand National Series season
North Wilkesboro Speedway
North Wilkesboro Speedway
Date April 16, 1967 (1967-April-16)
Official name Gwyn Staley 400
Location North Wilkesboro Speedway, North Wilkesboro, North Carolina
Course Permanent racing facility
0.625 mi (1.005 km)
Distance 400 laps, 250 mi (402 km)
Weather Very hot with temperatures of 84 °F (29 °C); wind speeds of 7 miles per hour (11 km/h)
Average speed 93.954 miles per hour (151.204 km/h)
Attendance 9,400[3]
Pole position
Driver Junior Johnson
Most laps led
Driver Darel Dieringer Junior Johnson
Laps 400
Winner
No. 26 Darel Dieringer Junior Johnson
Television in the United States
Network untelevised
Announcers none

Contents

BackgroundEdit

Through the 1960s and 1970s the NASCAR Grand National Series began focusing on bigger, faster, and longer tracks. Like other short tracks in NASCAR at the time, crowd capacity and purses were small compared to the larger tracks. Over time, Enoch Staley and Jack Combs attempted to keep the facility modern and on pace with the growth of the sport. The West Grandstand was rebuilt with chair-type seats rather than the old bare concrete slabs. New larger restroom facilities were built, and the South Grandstand was expanded. A garage facility was also built within the track, which at the time was rare for short-track venues. But the main focus was on keeping ticket prices affordable. Food and beverage prices were kept low, and event parking and camping were always free. As long as profits covered maintenance costs, Staley was satisfied with the income of the track.

In the Gwyn Staley 160 of 1960, Junior Johnson beat 21 other drivers for the pole position with a lap speed of 83.860 mph. Glen Wood overtook Johnson to lead the first lap, but Johnson had the race under control and led the next 145 laps. Lee Petty moved up from the eighth starting position to challenge Johnson late in the race. With 14 laps remaining, Johnson and Petty made contact. Johnson's car was sent spinning into the guardrail. Petty lead the final 14 laps to win his third straight race at North Wilkesboro. The crowd of 9,200 pelted Petty with bottles, rocks, and debris after his win; he had done their local hero wrong. When Petty took the microphone in Victory Lane to explain his side of the story, the crowd began jeering. Rex White finished second, and Wood placed third. Ned Jarrett finished fourth under the alias John Lentz.

The length of the fall race in 1960 was increased from its usual 160 laps / 100 miles to 320 laps / 200 miles, this it became known as the Wilkes 320. Speeds increased immensely from the previous record, 1.83 seconds quicker than any previous qualifying lap (86.806 to 93.399 mph). Rex White posted the fastest qualifying lap and dethroned Lee Petty from his three-race winning streak at North Wilkesboro. Junior Johnson finished about half a lap behind White in second place.

In the 1961 running of the Gwyn Staley 400, Junior Johnson recorded another pole, this time by 0.57 seconds better than the previous track record, with his qualifying time of 23.52 (95.660 mph). Johnson led all of the 62 laps he ran before transmission problems forced him out of the race. Fred Lorenzen led the next 61 laps until engine problems took him out of the running. And Curtis Turner led 56 laps before experiencing problems as well. 1960 Grand National Champion Rex White, who started on the outside pole, led the remaining 221 laps and won the race. Tommy Irwin started the race in sixth position and finished the Gwyn Staley 400 two laps behind White. Richard Petty followed in third place. Fireball Roberts, in a Pontiac owned by Smokey Yunick, finished fourth (ten laps down), and Johnny Allen, who crashed out of the race on his 387th lap, still finished in fifth place. Only 12 of the 25 cars that entered the race were running at the finish of the first 400-lap edition of the Gwyn Staley race.

In the 1963 Wilkes 400, Fred Lorenzen captured his third straight pole at the track by breaking his own record with a lap time of 23.30 seconds / 96.566 mph. Richard Petty entered the race in an attempt to become the first driver to win four consecutive races at North Wilkesboro. But he experienced engine problems and lasted only 45 laps into the race. Lorenzen led 58 laps, but came up short of victory, six seconds behind winner Marvin Panch. Panch did not start the 1963 season until halfway through because he had nearly lost his life in a crash while testing a Maserati at Daytona that February. Panch, in a Wood Brothers car, started third and led 131 laps in the race. Holman-Moody took the next three spots in the final rundown, with Lorenzen second, Nelson Stacy third, and Fireball Roberts fourth. Stacy started fourth and led 56 laps, while Roberts started from the outside pole and led the most laps with 155.

The track was repaved just prior to the Gwyn Staley 400 in 1964, and the resulting lack of traction wreaked havoc. Fireball Roberts, Buck Baker, Buddy Arrington, and G.C. Spencer all crashed through the wooden guardrail in the first and second turns in Saturday's practice and qualifying. Roberts was unable to start the race because his Ford had been so heavily damaged. Fred Lorenzen won the pole and led 368 laps on the way to the win.

Junior Johnson was the pole sitter for the 1965 Gwyn Staley 400, with a qualifying time and speed of 22.27 seconds / 101.033 mph, breaking his own record by 0.06 seconds. Marvin Panch was leading the race when a blown tire caused him to crash with 11 laps remaining. Johnson assumed the lead from there and won his third of 13 wins in 1965. Johnson lead during most of the race, 356 laps in total. Bobby Johns in a Holman-Moody Ford finished in the runner-up position, seven seconds behind Johnson. Finishing third, one lap down, was Ned Jarrett. Jarrett had led 20 laps early in the race. Dick Hutcherson, in his Holman-Moody Ford, finished seven laps off the pace in fourth place, and Panch finished fifth. Panch led on three occasions during the race for a total of 24 laps.

In the Wilkes 400 of 1965, Fred Lorenzen won the pole and led the first 190 laps before engine problems forced him out of the race on Lap 219. Junior Johnson took the lead from the fading Lorenzen to pick up his 50th and final Grand National Series victory by two laps over Cale Yarborough. Only 16 of the 35 cars that entered the race were running at the finish.

Jim Paschal started the 1966 Gwyn Staley 400 from the pole position with a record lap time and speed of 21.91 sec / 102.693 mph. Paschal led 308 laps and won by six laps over G.C. Spencer, the largest margin of victory at North Wilkesboro in a Grand National Series race. David Pearson started on the outside pole, and despite losing an engine with 18 laps to go he finished third. Wendell Scott finished fourth (22 laps down), and Clarence Henly Gray finished fifth (25 laps down). Only 14 of the 37 cars entered in the race were running at the finish. Richard Petty was the only driver besides Paschal to lead any laps in the race. He led 92 laps before falling back to finish 11th (53 laps down).

SummaryEdit

Darel Dieringer managed to defeat Cale Yarborough by at least one lap in front of 9400 live spectators.[3] While the pole position speed was 104.603 miles per hour (168.342 km/h), the actual racing speeds approached 93.594 miles per hour (150.625 km/h). Two hours and forty minutes were required to fully resolve 400 laps of action that took place on a paved track spanning 0.675 miles (1.086 km).[3] Six cautions were handed out by NASCAR officials for 33 laps.[3] Larry Miller received the last-place finish for a problem related to his brakes during the first lap of the race.[2][3] There were 34 drivers on the racing grid; all of them were born in the United States of America and were male.[3]

G.C. Spencer's vehicle developed engine problems on lap 4. A problematic clutch would send Friday Hassler out of the race on lap 31. Harold Stockton's engine stopped working properly on lap 49 while Sam McQuagg's vehicle overheated on lap 50. A driveshaft problem ended Eddie Yarboro's day on lap 85 while a problematic ignition knocked out Paul Goldsmith on lap 95. Buddy Arrington's vehicle overheated on lap 126 while David Pearson suffered a similar fate on lap 134. Dick Jonhson's vehicle would have a blown engine on lap 178 while lap 203 would see Earl Brooks be eliminated from the race due to the same problem.[3]

Dieringer would make his last NASCAR Cup Series victory during this race. David Pearson would leave Cotton Owens' team (for Holman Moody[4]) after this race was finished.

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.

At least seven notable crew chiefs would be recorded as attending this race; including Bud Hartje, Dale Inman, Frankie Scott, Herb Nab and Glen Wood.[5]

QualifyingEdit

Grid[3] No. Driver Manufacturer Owner
1 26 Darel Dieringer '67 Ford Junior Johnson
2 43 Richard Petty '67 Plymouth Petty Enterprises
3 14 Jim Paschal '67 Plymouth Tom Friedkin
4 21 Cale Yarborough '67 Ford Wood Brothers
5 6 David Pearson '67 Dodge Cotton Owens
6 1 Paul Lewis '67 Dodge A.J. King
7 99 Paul Goldsmith '67 Plymouth Ray Nichels
8 29 Dick Hutcherson '67 Ford Bondy Long
9 4 John Sears '66 Ford L.G. DeWitt
10 2 Bobby Allison '65 Chevrolet Donald Brackins

Finishing orderEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "1967 Gwyn Staley 400 weather information". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2012-09-03.
  2. ^ a b "1967 Gwyn Staley 400 race information (second information)". Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "1967 Gwyn Staley 400 race information". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2011-04-03.
  4. ^ "1967 David Pearson race results". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
  5. ^ "1967 Gwyn Staley 400 crew chief information". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
Preceded by
1967 Hickory 250
NASCAR Grand National Series Season
1967
Succeeded by
1967 Virginia 500