February 7, 1954
Two-time NASCAR Grand National champion Herb Thomas wins the 1954 season opener at West Palm Beach in his Hudson Hornet. Thomas collects the $1,600 first prize, which is sweetened by the contingency money from Pure Oil Company and Champion Spark Plugs.
With Ted Chester folding his NASCAR Grand National team after the close of the 1953 season, Tim Flock had to look for a ride in 1954. Colonel Ernest Woods was just entering NASCAR and picked up Flock to drive his #88 Oldsmobile at Daytona. The car was equipped with a General Electric two-way radio, the first used in NASCAR Grand National competition. Woods could communicate with Flock during the race -- a major innovation for the day. See more pictures of NASCAR.
A starting field of 136 cars, the largest ever in a NASCAR event, take the green flag in the 100-mile Modified-Sportsman race at Daytona. Cotton Owens wins the race.
February 21, 1954
Tim Flock finishes first but is disqualified from his apparent win at Daytona, elevating Lee Petty to the official winner. Flock quits NASCAR in disgust. Flock's car had been equipped with a two-way radio, the first such use in NASCAR Grand National competition.
Elton Hildreth, a Nash dealer out of Bridgeton, N.J., hauled his #1 Nash Ambassador down to Daytona with an identical Nash passenger car. Hildreth started the Feb. 21 Daytona Beach race 44th in the field of 62. He managed to make modest headway during the 160-miler, but ran out of fuel a couple laps from the finish. Hildreth was credited with a 38th-place finish and pocketed $25 in prize money.
Dick Rathmann comes from last to first to win the 125-mile race at Oakland Speedway in California. The track consists of dirt corners and paved straightaways.
May 13, 1954
NASCAR president Bill France is escorted out of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway garage area. AAA chief stewart Harry McQuinn says, "We have a long-standing disagreement with NASCAR on what constitutes good racing."
Curtis Turner and Herb Thomas are at the front of the field during the pace lap for the March 7 NASCAR Grand National race at the unmanicured Jacksonville Speedway Park in Florida. The wooden fence had decayed due to weather (and errant cars). Thomas kept out of the fence and drove to victory, finishing two laps ahead of runner-up Fonty Flock, who started fifth.
The first NASCAR Grand National road course event is held on at an airport in Linden, N.J. Al Keller wins the race in a Jaguar XK-120. A total of 20 foreign cars compete.
Flame-proof coveralls are made available to NASCAR drivers for $9.25 each by Treesdale Laboratories. It is the third NASCAR-specific product of the season. The $35 GenTex 70 helmet and special racing tires priced at $37.90 each from Pure Oil Co. have already been offered.
Al Keller poses with his Jaguar sports coupe at New Jersey's Linden Airport. NASCAR's first road-course event was staged over two miles of the airport's runways on June 13. The event was open to both American stock cars and foreign sports cars. Nearly half of the entries in the 43-car starting field were foreign cars. It remains the only win for a foreign-made automobile in NASCAR's premier series.
Bill France, Jr., crashes his Nash on the 25th lap of the NASCAR Short Track Division event at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. France, Jr., was making his second start of the season. It became the last of his career.
September 12, 1954
Hershel McGriff drives an Oldsmobile to victory in the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National race at Macon, Ga. Tim Flock finishes second in his first start since quitting the tour following his disqualification at Daytona.
October 10, 1954
The recently completed Memphis-Arkansas Speedway opens to a crowd of 12,000. Buck Baker wins the 250-miler on the huge 1 1/2-mile high-banked dirt track.
Buck Baker finished third in the 1954 NASCAR Grand National points standings and won four races in #87 during the campaign. His biggest victory of the season was the Mid-South 250 at the new Memphis-Arkansas Speedway. The track was a high-banked 1-1/2-mile dirt oval, a beast of a track that was both deceptive and dangerous. Baker only led the final 17 laps, taking the lead when Lee Petty snapped an axle and had to pull out of the race.
Lee Petty finishes last in the season finale at North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway, but secures his first NASCAR Grand National championship. Petty finishes 283 points ahead of runner-up Herb Thomas. California driver Lou Figaro loses his life in a tumble three laps from the finish.
Continue on to the next page to learn the full results of the 1954 NASCAR Grand National season.
For more information on all things NASCAR, see:
- NASCAR Home Page
- NASCAR Season Recaps
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- NASCAR Results
- NASCAR Drivers
- How NASCAR Race Cars Work
- How the Daytona 500 Works