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1948 NASCAR Modified Recap

1948 was the year the first official NASCAR-sanctioned stock car racing event took place. Drivers -- including females Sara Christian, Louise Smith, and Ethel Flock -- hit the tracks in hopped-up prewar coupes known as "Modifieds," competing in a total of 52 races. The 1948 NASCAR championship season was full of wrecks, drama, and flair. At the end of a very close title chase, only 37.75 points separated Fonty Flock and crusty veteran Robert "Red" Byron. You can learn about these events and more in the following article, from season highlights to the year's final standings, all packed with plenty of photos.

February 15, 1948

Red Byron wins the first NASCAR-sanctioned auto race in a 1939 Modified Ford owned by Raymond Parks and tuned by Red Vogt. Of the 62 cars that enter, 50 start. A crowd of 14,000 pays $2.50 each to watch the historic moment at the Daytona Beach-Road course.

Fonty Fock's #1 Al Dykes 1939 Ford tumbled off course during the first NASCAR race at Daytona's Beach-Road course.
Fonty Flock's #1 Al Dykes 1939 Ford lies in a patch of palmetto
bushes after tumbling off the course during the first NASCAR
race at Daytona's Beach-Road course. Flock was shaken, but
not seriously hurt after flipping end-over-end nearly a
dozen times. See more pictures of NASCAR.

February 21, 1948

Louis Ossinski, an attorney and aide to Bill France, completes the paperwork for the new stock car racing organization. NASCAR becomes incorporated.

February 24, 1948

Fonty Flock wins the NASCAR Modified race at Jacksonville, Fla. The steering wheel breaks on Flock's 1939 Ford, but he drives the late stages using only the remaining steering spoke.

Bill Snowden #16 runs just ahead of #22 Red Byron and #17 Swayne Pritchett at Augusta Speedway April 11.
Bill Snowden in #16 runs just ahead of #22 Red Byron and #17
Swayne Pritchett at Augusta Speedway on April 11. Bob Flock
won the race, finishing ahead of Fonty Flock and third-place
finisher Pritchett. A month later, Pritchett lost his life in an
independent race at Jefferson, Ga., when his throttle
hung open after he received the checkered flag.

May 23, 1948

NASCAR stages three championship events in different locations on the same day. Gober Sosebee wins at Macon, Ga., Bill Blair captures the feature in Danville, Va., and Johnny Rogers tops the field at Dover, N.J.

May 30, 1948

Veteran driver Paul Pappy outruns 19-year-old rookie Fireball Roberts to win the 40-lap Modified championship race at Jacksonville. It is the first time Roberts emerges as a stout contender.

#90 Tim Flock and #55 Glenn Dunnaway lead the opening heat race on June 6 in Lakeview Speedway.
Front-row starters #90 Tim Flock and #55 Glenn Dunnaway lead
#9 Ed Samples and #14 Bob Flock in the opening heat race on
June 6 at Lakeview Speedway in North Carolina. Note the
narrow pit area where cars slated to compete in the next
heat race are parked. Bob Flock won the 30-lap feature,
with Tim Flock running a close second.

June 20, 1948

NASCAR makes its first trip to Alabama. Fonty Flock wins the Modified feature at Birmingham. On the same day, Tim Flock scores his first NASCAR win at Greensboro, N.C.

July 25, 1948

Slick Davis becomes the first NASCAR ­driver to be fatally injured. The tragedy happens in an event at Greensboro, N.C. Curtis Turner starts on the pole and wins the race. Billy Carden wins another NASCAR Modified race held on the same day in Columbus, Ga.

Bone-jarring car wrecks were part of the NASCAR landscape in 1948.
Wrecks were a part of the NASCAR landscape in 1948. Most ­
drivers were able to walk away from bone-jarring crashes such
as this. One driver, W.R. "Slick" Davis, lost his life in a crash
at Greensboro on July 25, becoming the first fatality in
NASCAR competition.

August 15, 1948

Al Keller spanks the 48-car field in a 200-mile NASCAR Modified race at Langhorne's circular one-mile dirt track. Runner-up Buck Barr finishes 18 laps behind Keller. Only 14 of the 48 starters manage to finish.

August 20, 1948

NASCAR is forced to ­cancel a number of ­scheduled events due to an outbreak of polio in North Carolina.

September 5, 1948

Curtis Turner bags the doubleheader at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Turner wins the opener from the pole. An inverted start for the second event fails to slow Turner, who slashes through the field to beat ­runner-up Bob Smith, who owns the cars he and Turner are driving.

Gordon Mangum in the #2 and #00 Buck Baker were two of the many early NASCAR pioneers.
Gordon Mangum in the #2 and #00 Buck Baker were two of the
many early NASCAR pioneers. Mangum raced out of Virginia
and Baker was a former bus driver out of Charlotte. Baker
failed to win any feature events in 1948, but did manage
to finish 10th in the final points standings.

November 14, 1948

Red Byron wins the season finale at Jacksonville, Fla. Byron, winner of 11 of the 52 NASCAR-sanctioned events, edges Fonty Flock by 32.75 points to capture the inau­gural championship. Flock is the top winner, taking the checkered flag 15 times, but he finishes 32.75 points behind Byron. Byron collects $1250 in points fund earnings.

Continue on to the next page to learn the full results of the 1948 NASCAR Modified season.

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