April 8, 1956
“Wilkes County 160”

Top 5 finishers…..

It was the only race at the track in 1956. 29 cars took to the track this day. Junior Johnson’s 1956 Pontiac started from the first position. Johnson posted a fast lap of 78.37 mph during qualifying. He led every lap he ran. Unfortunately it was only 17 laps—143 short of the total distance. He was sidelined with engine problems. The outside pole qualifier, Speedy Thompson took over from there and led thru lap 114. He eventually fell out of the race also, with fuel line problems.

The final 46 laps were led by Tim Flock. Flock finally took the checkered flag in a Grand National race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. It was Chrysler’s first win at NWS. After the race, Tim Flock would announce to Carl Kiekhafer that is would be the last time he would drive one of Kiekhafer’s cars. The owner had a way of butting heads with his drivers. At times, things were very stressful. And Flock was starting to experience heath problems because of it. He lost a lot of weight mainly due to bleeding ulcers. The end result wasn’t a pretty situation. The two never would speak for 40-some years after that. It would also be Flock’s last race at NWS. In fact, it was the last Grand National race for any of the Flock brothers at NWS. After just 8 season’s, was is possible that the NWS fans were wondering, “where has our history gone?”—some 50 years ago……

The second place finisher was Billy Myers. Myers was fresh off his 1955 NASCAR Sportsman Division (today’s Busch Series) championship. Myers won two Grand National races in 1956 on his way to a season ending 6th place finish in the points standings. Sadly, Myers lost his life due to a heart attack while running in a modified race at Bowman Gray Stadium in 1958, just seven months after his brother, Bobby was killed at Darlington. But the Myers name would live on for quite some time. Recently “retired” Danny “Chocolate” Myers (son of Bobby, nephew of Billy) worked for several of Richard Childress’ race teams throughout the years as gas-man. He can still be found at the RCR shop. And speaking from personal experience, he seems to enjoy spending a few minutes with the people as they pass thru.

After nine tries at NWS, Jim Paschal cracked the top five with his 3rd place finish this day. Paschal was one of the 33 drivers to compete in the very first NASCAR Strictly Stock race at Charlotte in 1949. He is also the driver to lead the most laps in the 400 lap/600 mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway—335 of the 400 laps in 1967. Paschal went on to race in 21 Grand National races at NWS. We’ll hear more from him again…..

The fourth place finisher was Herb Thomas. At the time, NASCAR, the fans, and even Thomas himself didn’t realize that this would pretty much be his last season. A crash late in the season almost took his life and left him partially paralyzed. He made a few unsuccessful attempts in later years. Fittingly, at the track he dominated so many times, his Grand National career came to an end in 1962 at North Wilkesboro.

Closing out the top 5 was Ralph Moody. Moody drove in his first race in 1935. From there he competed until he was called to serve his country in WWII. He drove a tank for General Patton in World War II. Although his successful Grand National career was short, his time spent as an owner was nothing short of spectacular. Between 1958 and 1971, cars owned by Moody and partner John Holman won 93 races in NASCAR’s Grand National Series with such drivers as Bobby Allison, David Pearson, Fireball Roberts, Fred Lorenzen, Curtis Turner, Joe Weatherly, Marvin Panch, Mario Andretti, Dick Hutherson, Nelson Stacy and Bill Amick.

A driver named Dick Beaty finished in 12th place. Beaty went on to become NASCAR’s “top cop.” He served as NASCAR Winston Cup Director from 1980 until retiring from that position following the 1992 season. Beaty was the person who sold in the idea to NASCAR to place the “pass to the right” rule on the restart. The racing world lost another piece of history when Beaty passed away in 1998.

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