April 4, 1954
“Wilkes County 160”

Top 5 finishers…..

16 of the 24 cars entered in the field finished the race on this day. The first car to cross the finish line as the checkered flag waved was Dick Rathmann in his #3 Hudson. It was Rathmann’s fifth race at North Wilkesboro and his 3rd top five finish. He led 48 laps in the race.

Finishing some 20 seconds behind, on the lead lap was Herb Thomas. The third place finisher was Joe Eubanks. The third place finish matched his best at NWS. It was Eubanks’ fourth top 10 finish in his first six tries at the speedway. Eubanks also finished on the lead lap.

Curtis Turner finally cracked the top 5 in a Grand National race at NWS. “Pops” finished in the fourth position. Turner’s career was full of a little bit of everything from being a serious partier, an airplane pilot, the creator, builder and initial owner of Charlotte Motor Speedway and he also made an attempt to organize the drivers as the Teamsters Union was setting up the Federation of Professional Athletes. He felt the drivers weren’t getting their fair share when it came to money earned. He was also hoping to get financial aid from the Teamsters. It cost Turner a lot more than he anticipated to get Charlotte Motor Speedway up and running, and it always seemed that he came up a day late and a dollar short. However, Big Bill France was about not having anything to do with unions. And as a result, Curtis Turner was banned from the sport for several years. He was reinstated in 1965.

Sporting yet another top five finish, the 6th in his 8 NWS races, Lee Petty came across the stripe in 5th position. His two finishes outside the top five were in races where he experienced vehicular problems and did not finish those races. Between 1949 and 1959 Petty finished no lower than fourth in the NASCAR Grand National championship. Petty claimed three series titles, in 1954, 1958 and 1959. One of Petty's career highlights came when he took the checkered flag in the first Daytona 500 in 1959. It was such a close race that NASCAR officials researched the photographs of the finish for three days before finally declaring a winner.

5,500 were in attendance on this day. The saw the lead change 3 times between Rathmann and pole sitter (78.698 mph) Gober Sosebee, who led 112 laps in the race. Sosebee sported two Grand National victories in his career. Story has it that his second win came after he snuck out of the hospital in order to make the race. He was involved in a crash in a race the night before as was hospitalized. Sosebee has great success in the modified ranks. His 1939 Ford won over 100 modified races, including three at the Daytona Beach Course, the only car to ever earn that distinction.

Gober Sosebee

Back to the Timeline!