In 1950, the "NASCAR Grand National Circuit" became the new title for the previous year's "Strictly Stock" racing division. Though only eight Strictly Stock races were staged in 1949, this newfangled late-model racing circuit was already a hot commodity. It became NASCAR's number-one series, replacing the Modifieds as the headlining attraction.
Automobile manufacturers began to take notice, and with accelerated research and mechanical development, were producing more powerful passenger cars with high-compression, lightweight V-8 engines for the public. The first manufacturer to really invest in NASCAR's Grand National Circuit was the Nash Motor Company. The company offered cash prizes as contingency money in a few races and promised to deliver a new Nash to the 1950 NASCAR Grand National champion. 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.
Entering its second season, NASCAR's Strictly Stock late-model division is renamed the "Grand National" division because, NASCAR president Bill France explains, "Grand National indicates superior qualities."
Red Byron gallops out of Daytona's south turn during his runner-up effort in the opening event of the 1950 NASCAR Grand National season on Feb. 5. Byron was among the leaders in the points standings, but had all of his points stripped when he drove in independent "outlaw" races. NASCAR had a strict policy in the early years that licensed drivers must stay within the sanctioning boundaries or accept the loss of all championship points. See more pictures of NASCAR.
February 5, 1950
Harold Kite drives a Lincoln to victory in the 200-mile NASCAR Grand National race at the Daytona Beach-Road course in his first start. Kite finishes 53 seconds ahead of runner-up Red Byron in the caution-free event.
April 16, 1950
Curtis Turner wins the 150-mile NASCAR Grand National event at Langhorne Speedway, his second consecutive triumph on the circular one-mile track. Tim Flock takes the points lead in the race for the championship.
Bill Blair, driving the #2 Cadillac owned by Sam Rice, puts a lap on Charles Muscatel's #7 Mercury in the early going of the 150-miler at Langhorne Speedway on April 16. Blair's Caddy succumbed to a broken steering linkage, while Muscatel fell out early with overheating problems.
May 5, 1950: Carrera Panamericana
NASCAR president Bill France and Curtis Turner enter a Nash Ambassador in the Carrera Panamericana, a 2172-mile endurance race across the rough Mexican terrain. The race starts in Juarez, Chihuahua, and ends in El Ocotal on the Guatemalan border. France and Turner crash out of the race.
May 30, 1950
Bill Rexford passes Curtis Turner with 80 laps to go and wins the 200-mile NASCAR Grand National event at Canfield, Ohio. The 200-lap, 100-mile race, run opposite the Indianapolis 500, is called the "Poor Man's 500."
June 8, 1950
Tickets go on sale for the first 500-mile stock car race at the new Darlington Raceway. Prices range from $3 general admission to $10 for lower row "box seats." The event is sanctioned by the Central States Racing Association after NASCAR turns down the initial offer from track president Harold Brasington.
The promoters at North Wilkesboro Speedway conducted the "Wilkes County Championship Fan's Car Race" as an accompanying event to the Modifieds. The race took place on June 11. The cars weren't painted with race graphics and all had been driven to the race. Third-place starter Gwyn Staley, brother of North Wilkesboro Speedway promoter Enoch Staley, won the 10-lap race in a pickup truck.
June 25, 1950
Jimmy Florian scores the first NASCAR Grand National win for the Ford nameplate in the 100-mile race on the high banks of Dayton (Ohio) Speedway. Florian opts not to wear a shirt while driving in the searing-hot race.
July 18, 1950
Darlington Raceway officials officially title the 500-mile Labor Day race as the "Southern Five-Hundred." Harold Brasington also announces NASCAR will co-sanction the $25,000 race. The original sanctioning body, the CSRA, has had difficulty attracting entries. Raceway officials report the field will be limited to 45 cars.
July 23, 1950
Curtis Turner records his fourth victory of the year in the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National race at Charlotte Speedway. Lee Petty, who ranked third in the points standings, had all 809 points removed by NASCAR. During the three-week lull, Petty competed in a nonsanctioned stock car race, and NASCAR decided to strip all of his points for failing to compete within NASCAR sanctioning boundaries.
August 13, 1950
Twenty-one-year-old Fireball Roberts guns his Oldsmobile to victory in the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National event at Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, N.C., making him NASCAR's youngest winner. Darlington Raceway officials announce that the inaugural Southern Five-Hundred field will be expanded from 45 to 75 cars.
August 19, 1950
Curtis Turner qualifies his Oldsmobile at 82.034 mph to win the pole for the inaugural Southern Five-Hundred at Darlington Raceway. Fifteen days of qualifying will determine the 75-car field. The quickest five cars each day earn a starting berth.
Dick Linder, the highly regarded racer out of Pittsburgh, keeps his #25 Oldsmobile ahead of a trio of challengers in the Aug. 24 NASCAR Grand National race at Dayton. It was Linder's first of three wins in the 1950 NASCAR season. A versatile driver, Linder quit NASCAR racing in 1952 and made the move to the AAA Indy Car series. He lost his life in a crash at Trenton in 1959.
September 4, 1950: Southern Five-Hundred
Johnny Mantz of Long Beach, Calif., drives a Plymouth to an overwhelming victory in the Labor Day Southern Five-Hundred, nine laps ahead of runner-up Fireball Roberts. Mantz collects $10,510, the largest purse so far in stock car history.
September 30, 1950
NASCAR promotes a 25-mile, nonpoints race for NASCAR Grand National cars at the 1/4-mile Civic Stadium in Buffalo, N.Y. Won by Bobby Courtwright, the race is the "pilot" event for the upcoming NASCAR Short Track Grand National Circuit.
Ebenezer "Slick" Smith drove this Nash Ambassador in the Sept. 24 NASCAR race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Smith crashed midway through the race and wound up 20th in the field of 26. Bill France and Curtis Turner had driven the Nash in the Carrera Panamericana during the summer. The Nash Motor Co. was the first manufacturer to actively support NASCAR racing.
October 29, 1950
Lee Petty captures the NASCAR Grand National finale at Hillsboro, N.C., as 23-year-old Bill Rexford wraps up the national driving championship. Rexford edges Fireball Roberts by 110.5 points.
October 30, 1950
1949 NASCAR champion Red Byron, who ranked sixth in the 1950 NASCAR Grand National standings, has all 1315.5 points stripped for participating in a non-NASCAR-sanctioned race at Atlanta's Lakewood Speedway. Byron drove at Atlanta rather than the NASCAR Grand National finale at Hillsboro. The Lakewood race was sanctioned by the National Stock Car Racing Association (NSCRA).
December 18, 1950
NASCAR announces $23,024 in points fund money will be distributed to drivers in all stock car divisions based on final points standings. NASCAR Grand National champion Bill Rexford will receive $1375.
Continue on to the next page to learn the full results of the 1950 NASCAR Grand National season.For more information on all things NASCAR, see:
1950 NASCAR Grand National Standings
1950 NASCAR Grand National Champion Bill Rexford
Despite mechanical problems in the season finale at Hillsboro, N.C., 23-year-old Bill Rexford held off Fireball Roberts by an eyelash to capture the 1950 NASCAR Grand National championship.
The 1950 title chase was quite memorable. In the 19-race campaign, the points lead changed hands nine times among seven different drivers. Rexford took the points lead in the next-to-last race at Winchester, Ind., and finished 110.5 points ahead of Roberts.
Roberts, the 21-year-old youngster out of Daytona Beach, could have won the title with a fifth-place finish in the season finale. With Rexford on the sidelines, Fireball elected to charge to the front rather than employ a conservative approach. Roberts led twice for nine laps, but blew the engine in his Oldsmobile and wound up 21st.
In addition to Rexford and Roberts, other drivers to lead the standings during the season included Curtis Turner, Lloyd Moore, Tim Flock, Red Byron, and Harold Kite. The following chart compiles the complete standings for 1950.
1950 NASCAR Grand National Standings
|26||Roscoe "Pappy" Hough
|J.C. Van Landingham||105.0||0||450.00|
For more information on all things NASCAR, see: