During the 1956 NASCAR Grand National season, the battle between Chevrolet and Ford escalated. The two car giants collectively spent better than $6 million to win NASCAR stock car races and sell their products to the motoring public. Despite their spending sprees, Kiekhaefer's Chryslers and Dodges still cleaned house, compiling an amazing 16-race winning streak during the early summer.
Near the end of the 1956 season, Kiekhaefer withdrew from NASCAR. Though his teams had performed splendidly, they were constantly booed by spectators and always under the watchful eyes of NASCAR inspectors. Kiekhaefer could never understand why his efforts weren't appreciated and he got out of NASCAR as suddenly as he had arrived. 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.
November 13, 1955
Tim Flock wins the NASCAR Grand National season opener at Hickory Speedway as the new campaign gets underway early. Former NASCAR star Buddy Shuman, recently appointed head of Ford's NASCAR factory effort, tragically dies in a hotel fire the night before the race.
December 11, 1955
Joe Weatherly and Jim Reed, the first two finishers in the 100-mile race at West Palm Beach, are both disqualified for technical violations. Herb Thomas is declared the official winner.
Bob Pronger, wheeling the #99 Ford, runs just ahead of rim-riding Fireball Roberts in the inaugural NASCAR Convertible race on Feb. 25. Pronger, a rugged competitor from Blue Island, Ill., drove sparingly in NASCAR's Grand Nationals and Convertibles in the 1950s. His death is shrouded in mystery. He disappeared early in 1971, and was officially declared "missing at the hands of mafia agents" on June 17.
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Tim Flock outruns and outlasts a huge 76-car field to score his second straight win in the Daytona Beach NASCAR Grand National event. African-American driver Charlie Scott posts a 19th-place finish.
April 8, 1956
Tim Flock racks up his third win of the season at North Wilkesboro, N.C., then surprises the racing world by quitting the championship Kiekhaefer Chrysler team. Buck Baker will replace Flock in the coveted ride.
May 6, 1956
Speedy Thompson drives a Kiekhaefer Chrysler to victory in the 100-mile race at Concord, N.C. It marks the fourth consecutive NASCAR Grand National event that the Kiekhaefer team has swept the top two spots.
Jim Wilson's #576 1956 Dodge lies upside down after an early spill in the south turn at Daytona. Buddy Krebs' Dodge is also turned turtle. Both Wilson and Krebs were driving new Dodges for team owner Harvey Walters, and both were eliminated in the same crash.
Herb Thomas scores an easy win in the 100-mile event at Merced, Calif., giving the Carl Kiekhaefer team its 16th consecutive NASCAR Grand National victory. It is a record that will likely live forever in the NASCAR record book.
June 10, 1956
Ralph Moody wheels a DePaolo Engineering Ford to victory at West Memphis Speedway, halting the 16-race win streak by the Kiekhaefer team. Two drivers, Clint McHugh and Cotton Priddy, are killed in accidents during the race weekend.
July 4, 1956
Fireball Roberts records his first superspeedway triumph in the 250-miler at Raleigh Speedway. Carl Kiekhaefer files a protest against the weight of Roberts' flywheel. No scales are available at the speedway, so NASCAR officials take the flywheel to a local fish market to be weighed. Roberts' win is upheld by NASCAR.
Tim Flock and Speedy Thompson hustle through the north turn in the early laps of the Daytona Beach NASCAR Grand National race. The Kiekhaefer cars started on the front row. Thompson fell victim to mechanical problems and wound up 71st. Flock went on to win, leading all 37 laps on the 4.1-mile Beach-Road course.
Lee Petty dismounts his car in disgust on the 32nd lap, climbs the flagstand, grabs the red flag from the official starter, and waves the scheduled 100-mile NASCAR Grand National race at Tulsa, Okla., to a halt. Dusty conditions blinded the drivers and Petty acted on his own to prevent a catastrophe. The race is never completed or rescheduled.
August 12, 1956
Tim Flock, with his Mercury's windshield wipers flapping, drives to victory in the 258-mile NASCAR Grand National event at Elkhart Lake's Road America. NASCAR's first appearance in Wisconsin goes off on schedule despite a steady rain.
Junior Johnson climbed out of the rear window of his overturned Pontiac after a crash in the late stages of the Daytona Beach NASCAR Grand National. Johnson had spun out twice earlier in the race, but continued to charge into the north and south turns with reckless abandon. His courage finally caught up to him with a series of tumbles as he approached the north turn.
Curtis Turner is declared the winner of the scheduled 100-mile NASCAR Convertible race at Asheville-Weaverville Speedway when a 14-car crash wipes out all but one car running in the event. Turner's Ford is the only car still in running condition when officials terminate the event after 181 of the scheduled 200 laps.
October 14, 1956
Curtis Turner captures the 1956 NASCAR Convertible Circuit finale at Orange Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C., recording his 22nd victory of the year. Turner wins seven of the last eight races, but loses the championship by 836 points to three-time winner Bob Welborn.
October 23, 1956
Buck Baker's Kiekhaefer Chrysler tiptoes around a nasty crash involving former Kiekhaefer teammate Herb Thomas and wins the 100-mile race at Shelby, N.C. Speedy Thompson, also member of the Kiekhaefer team, triggers the crash, which leaves Thomas gravely injured. Baker pulls to within 118 points of Thomas with three races remaining.
Herb Thomas wheels his #92 Chevrolet down the front chute at Raleigh Speedway in the 250-mile NASCAR Grand National event on July 4. Three days earlier, Thomas resigned as driver for the Kiekhaefer team due to a personality clash with the crusty owner. Thomas dusted off his Chevy and ran fourth in the 250-miler on the one-mile banked superspeedway.
In one of the most peculiar doubleheader days in NASCAR history, Speedy Thompson wins the 100-mile race at Hickory and Marvin Panch wins the same-day event at Lancaster, Calif. Curiously, Thompson's win counts as a 1956 race, while Panch's triumph is considered the opener of the 1957 NASCAR Grand National season.
November 18, 1956
Buck Baker is declared the winner of the 1956 season finale at Wilson, N.C. Joe Weatherly clearly reaches the checkered flag first, but Baker is the first to pass the scoring stand located near turn one. Baker also wraps up the 1956 NASCAR Grand National championship by 704 points over Herb Thomas.
Continue on to the next page to learn the full results of the 1956 NASCAR Grand National season.
For more information on all things NASCAR, see:
- NASCAR Home Page
- NASCAR Season Recaps
- NASCAR Tracks
- NASCAR Results
- NASCAR Drivers
- How NASCAR Race Cars Work
- How the Daytona 500 Works