At the start of the 1958 NASCAR Grand National season, car manufacturers faced the Automobile Manufacturers Association 1957 ban on active participation in auto racing -- but they were itching to get back into the sport. To abide by the AMA resolution, yet still get the latest equipment into the hands of NASCAR competitors, manufacturers found they just had to be a little more discreet.
John Holman said his newly arrived 1958 Fords were the courtesy of 32 Carolina Ford dealerships, not the Ford factory. Jim Rathmann, who owned a Chevrolet dealership in Florida, found himself surrounded with Chevrolet's latest high-speed equipment and some of the first 1958 sheetmetal. Pontiac was well-represented too, with the addition of Smokey Yunick to its team. Forty-nine cars showed up for the 1958 Daytona Beach NASCAR Grand National race and the season never broke stride.
Fifty-one events comprised the 1958 NASCAR Grand National campaign, and a pair of 500-milers at Trenton, N.J., and Riverside, Calif., were added to the slate. 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 23, 1958
Paul Goldsmith drives Smokey Yunick's Pontiac to victory in the 160-mile NASCAR Grand National race on Daytona's Beach-Road course. The event is the final NASCAR race staged on the picturesque 4.1-mile course on the shore.
Glen Wood, leader of the Wood Brothers clan out of Stuart, Va., enjoyed a successful driving career before hanging up his helmet to concentrate on operating the family team. He divided his time among all of NASCAR's divisions and won at every level. Wood won four NASCAR Grand National events, five Convertible races, and countless Modified contests. He finished sixth in the 1958 Daytona Beach Convertible race on Feb. 22.
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Four days after the race, Lee Petty is declared the winner of the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National at Concord Speedway despite protests from Curtis Turner and Speedy Thompson, the apparent top two finishers. Scorecard data indicates that Petty finishes the 200 laps first although Turner starts on the pole and leads the entire distance.
April 13, 1958
Curtis Turner and Joe Weatherly finish first and second in the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National race at Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta. Turner and Weatherly are in potent Fords prepared by John Holman and Ralph Moody, successors of Peter DePaolo on Ford's premier racing team.
Buck Baker had a new 1958 Chevrolet at the beginning of the 1958 NASCAR Grand National campaign. Baker finished seventh at Daytona, fell out early the following week at Concord, N.C., then parked the new model Chevy and returned to driving his trusty 1957 Chevy for the remainder of the season. Baker's crew chief was Bud Moore, who later formed his own team and became one of the most accomplished team owners in NASCAR.
Fireball Roberts drives his Chevrolet to a big win in the 500-mile NASCAR Grand National race at Trenton, N.J. The race is the first 500-miler staged north of Darlington.
June 1, 1958: Crown America 500
Riverside International Raceway in Southern California opens with three 500-mile races in one weekend. Eddie Gray captures the Crown America 500 for NASCAR Grand National cars in an event that takes more than six hours to complete.
In the final lap of the Daytona Beach NASCAR Grand National event, #3 Paul Goldsmith nearly slid over the edge of the north turn. His vision was obscured by wet sand and moisture from the ocean spray. Windshield wipers were a standard piece of equipment on cars running the Daytona event, but Goldsmith's were inoperative, having blown back over the roof. He still made it to the finish line just ahead of the hard-charging Curtis Turner.
Fireball Roberts continues his winning spree by taking first place in the 250-mile race at Raleigh Speedway. The Daytona Beach driver outruns a 55-car field on the one-mile banked oval.
July 18, 1958
Richard Petty makes his first career NASCAR Grand National start in the 100-lap race at Toronto's Canadian National Exposition Speedway. The 21-year-old Petty finishes 17th in the 19-car field after hitting the fence on the 55th lap.
Clarence DeZalia's #94 Mercury gets entangled in a three-car mishap during a short-track event. DeZalia was one of the many independent drivers of the 1950s. He had no sponsor other than his own garage in Aberdeen, N.C. The crew was limited to DeZalia and a few friends, and they towed their car all over the South to race. DeZalia competed in 27 of the 51 events in 1958, scoring six top-10 finishes. He finished 15th in the final standings, and won a shade over $3,000.
Jack Smith wins the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National race at the Bridgehampton road course on Long Island. It is NASCAR's first venture into the New York City area.
September 1, 1958: Southern 500
Fireball Roberts takes his fourth win of the NASCAR Grand National season at Darlington's Southern 500. Roberts has now won four of his seven starts during the 1958 campaign.
Fireball Roberts flanks pole sitter Glen Wood on the front row at the start of the Martinsville Speedway Sweepstakes race on Oct. 12. The start of the race was delayed for more than an hour while NASCAR officials tried to determine who would participate in the 40-car field. Both NASCAR Grand Nationals and Convertibles were eligible and the entries far exceeded the 40-car limit. NASCAR finally selected 21 hardtops and 19 Convertibles to participate.
Joe Eubanks, who recently ended a retirement, drives to his first career victory in the 99-mile NASCAR Grand National contest at Hillsboro's Orange Speedway. Eubanks wins in his fourth start since returning to the speedway battles.
October 26, 1958
Junior Johnson edges Fireball Roberts by a whisker to win the NASCAR Grand National season finale at Atlanta's Lakewood Speedway. Lee Petty captures the championship by 644 points over Buck Baker.
Continue on to the next page to learn the full results of the 1958 NASCAR Grand National season.For more information on all things NASCAR, see: