1949 NASCAR Strictly Stock Recap

The 1949 NASCAR Strictly Stock season came about when Bill France toyed with the idea of a circuit for late-model American cars. Prior to the war, nearly every stock car race was entirely comprised of late-model sedans. But after the war, a shortage of new, postwar automobiles had delayed any serious thought of racing late models. That was, until May 1949, when France announced plans to conduct a "Strictly Stock" championship. Held on June 19, 1949, the race was open to the fastest 33 cars in qualifications, à la the Indianapolis 500. Seven other Strictly Stock races were staged during the 1949 season and tremendous attendance figures attested to their booming success. As the decade of the 1940s drew to a close, NASCAR's ­festival of noise and color had achieved a new level of respectability within professional motorsports. 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.

January, 1949

NASCAR heavily promotes its new Roadster division featuring chop-bodied convertibles. The first race scheduled at Daytona is cancelled due to work on the newly designed Beach-Road course. Other events are slated for the Broward Speedway north of Miami.

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Marshall Teague pushes his #8 Cox Motor Co. 1939 Ford sedan to ­victory in the Jan. 16 Modified race.
Marshall Teague pushes his #8 Cox Motor Co. 1939 Ford sedan
through the south turn along the way to ­victory in the Jan.
16 Modified race on Daytona's Beach-Road course. Teague
took the lead with two laps remaining when leader Ed Samples
blew his engine. Teague outran and outlasted a huge 75-car
field in the 1949 NASCAR Modified division season opener.
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January 16, 1949

Marshall Teague wheels his 1939 Ford Modified to victory in the 202.1-mile NASCAR season ­opener. The lead changes hands nine times among six drivers. Of the 75 cars that start, only 38 finish the grind.

January 23, 1949

NASCAR President Bill France promotes a 100-mile race at the new Broward Speedway. The huge two-mile speedway consists of a paved circle used as taxiways at the Ft. Lauderdale-Davie Airport. Red Byron sets the pack in qualifying with a speed of just over 115 mph. Lloyd Christopher wins a preliminary 10-mile "Strictly Stock Late Model" race. Fonty Flock wins the 50-lap feature at an average speed of 97 mph.

February 27, 1949

A second experimental Strictly Stock Late Model race is added to the three-event racing card at Broward Speedway. Benny George­son drives a 1947 Buick to victory in the 10-mile contest. Roadsters and Sports Cars are the headlining attraction, but much interest is focused on the new Strictly Stock event. Bob Flock wins the Roadster race at an average speed of 104.5 mph.

March 27, 1949

Fonty Flock wins his fourth Modified championship race in a row in the 40-lap feature at North Wilkes­boro Speedway. Red Byron, the 1948 NASCAR champion, is unable to ­compete due to illness.

Female racer Louise Smith is all smiles after her spectacular tumble out of the Occoneechee Speedway.
Female racer Louise Smith is all smiles after her
spectacular tumble out of the
Occoneechee Speedway
during a practice run. After the car was dragged out of

the woods, Smith climbed inside the crumpled machine
to pose for photographers.
One of the most popular ­
competitors in NASCAR's early days, Smith always
an entourage of enthusiastic ­supporters in her pit area.

May, 1949

Given the interest piqued by two late-model events earlier in the season, NASCAR's Bill France scales back on his promotions of Roadster events and schedules a 200-lap, 150-mile Strictly Stock race at Charlotte Speedway in mid June.

May 15, 1949

Red Byron speeds to victory in a 40-lap Modified race at Charlotte Speedway. More than 10,000 spectators are in attendance, one of the biggest crowds of the season.

June 19, 1949

More than 13,000 spectators attend the inaugural Strictly Stock National Championship race at the 3/4-mile Charlotte Speedway. Glenn Dunnaway crosses the finish line first in a 1946 Ford, but is disqualified when NASCAR inspectors find illegal springs on the former moonshine car. Jim Roper is declared the official ­winner in a Lincoln. NASCAR Publicity Director Houston Lawing reports more than 5000 fans were turned away due to lack of grandstand space.

June, 1949

Hubert Westmoreland, owner of the car Dunnaway drove at Charlotte, files a $10,000 lawsuit against NASCAR for disqualifying his car in the 150-mile Strictly Stock race.

Late June, 1949

With the astounding success of the Charlotte Strictly Stock race, Bill France quickly announces the second race for late-model cars will be held at Daytona in July.

July 10, 1949

Red Byron gallops past Gober Sosebee with six laps remaining to win the 166-mile Strictly Stock race on the Daytona Beach-Road course. A less-than-expected crowd of 5,000 watches the event. Three female ­drivers, Ethel Mobley, Louise Smith, and Sara Christian, compete. Mobley finishes 11th.

Sara Christian was NASCAR's most famous female racer in the early days.
Sara Christian was NASCAR's most famous female
racer in the early days. The
Atlanta housewife was
among the 33 starters in the inaugural NASCAR
Stock (today's NEXTEL Cup) race at Charlotte
on June 19. Christian drove a Ford
entered by her
husband Frank. She qualified 13th and drove the first
part of the
race. During a pit stop, Bob Flock
took over and drove to a 14th-place finish.

August 7, 1949

A 200-mile Strictly Stock race replaces the scheduled Modified feature at Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C. Bob Flock wins in an Oldsmobile after a six-car crash takes out Red Byron and Sara Christian. Over 17,000 spectators turn out to watch the event.

September 11, 1949

Curtis Turner wheels his Oldsmobile to a big victory in the 200-mile NASCAR Strictly Stock race at Langhorne Speedway. More than 20,000 spectators turn out for the ­celebrated event. Sara Christian finishes sixth in the field of 45, and race winner Turner invites her to join him in victory lane ceremonies.

A panoramic view of the wall-to-wall crowd at the first Strictly Stock race on June 19 at Charlotte Speedway.
This panoramic view shows the wall-to-wall crowd that
attended the first Strictly
Stock race on June 19 at
Charlotte Speedway. Initial press releases said 22,500

paid to attend the 150-miler, but later accounting
tabbed the throng at 13,000.
The race featuring
late-model stocks was an instant hit, and
President Bill France quickly began to
arrange other
events that ­featured
current-model automobiles.

October 2, 1949

Lee Petty records his first NASCAR Strictly Stock victory in the 100-mile race at Heidelberg Speedway near Pittsburgh. Sara Christian finishes fifth, the best finish ever for a female driver in NASCAR's premier stock car racing division.

October 16, 1949

Bob Flock captures the eighth and final 1949 Strictly Stock championship race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Red Byron is crowned the first Strictly Stock champion, finishing 117.5-points ahead of runner-up Lee Petty. Byron won two of his six starts.

October 23, 1949

Promoter Sam Nunis schedules a 150-mile Strictly Stock race at Atlanta's Lakewood Speedway with the National Stock Car Racing Association (NSCRA) as the sanctioning body. NASCAR's Bill France co-promotes the event, which attracts a crowd of 33,452. Tim Flock wins in an Oldsmobile.

November 13, 1949

With the financial success of the Lakewood Speedway Strictly Stock race, promoter Nunis schedules an encore event for Nov. 13. The race is curtailed by rain and completed the following week. June Cleveland wins in a Buick before 22,000 spectators.

November 28, 1949

NASCAR announces that the victory dinner to honor divisional champions will take place in Daytona Beach on Feb. 1, 1950. Red Byron is honored as the inaugural NASCAR Strictly Stock champion, while Fonty Flock is crowned the champion of the Modified division.

Fonty Flock's huge Buick Roadmaster at North Wilkesboro Speed­way during the final Strictly Stock race of the season.
Fonty Flock's huge Buick Roadmaster negotiates the
fourth turn at North
Wilkesboro Speed­way during the
final Strictly Stock race of the season on
Oct. 16.
Flock finished third and won $400. Flock won the 1949
Modified championship and finished fifth in
the final Strictly Stock points
standings, the only driver
to log top-five finishes in the same
season in both
of NASCAR's top two divisions.

December 5, 1949: Southern 500

The Central States Racing Association, a rival Midwestern-based stock car racing sanctioning body, announces it will sanction the inaugural Southern 500 at the new Darlington Raceway in 1950. Track president Harold Brasington attempted to get NASCAR to sanction the first 500-mile stock car race, but Bill France turned down the offer, fearful the Strictly Stock cars couldn't go a full 500 miles.

December, 1949

NASCAR's public relations office releases the winner of the first Most Popular Driver poll. Curtis Turner garners the most votes by NASCAR racing fans, finishing ahead of Red Byron. Other awards, via a poll of fans, went to Byron (Best Strictly Stock Car Driver), Turner (Best Modified Driver), Sara Christian (Best Woman Driver), and Joe Wolf (Outstanding Mechanic).

December 16, 1949

Judge John J. Hayes dismisses the lawsuit filed by Hubert Westmoreland, and rules NASCAR is allowed to disqualify cars that don't comply with technical specifications.

Continue on to the next page to learn the full results of the 1949 NASCAR Strictly Stock season.

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