Guest Author - Debbie Lester
Do you remember the first time you went to an amusement park? The first time you drove a car? Your first kiss? I remember all those things and a lot more firsts in my life. Firsts are something you recall for years because they meant something to you. A rite of passage perhaps.
NASCAR is no different. Over its sixty year history NASCAR has had many firsts. But, there are a few that stand out in the memories of many NASCAR fans. I’d like to share a few of those firsts with you. This is by no means all of the NASCAR firsts, but certainly a few memorable ones.
The first “strictly stock” car race happened at Charlotte Speedway in 1949. It happened on a .75 mile dirt track. There were 33 cars in the field and over 13,000 fans in the stands. NASCAR had another first that day. Sara Christian became the first female driver, even though she allowed Bob Flock to take over when his engine failed.
The first Daytona 500 motor race was held in 1959. Lee Petty was the winner, driving at 135.52 mph. Another first at Daytona would have to be the 1949 race at the Daytona Beach Road Course, when three female drivers entered the field including Sara Christian. During a race at Langhorn Speedway, Sara became the first woman to earn a top 10 finish.
Some other quick firsts. Buddy Baker was the first person to break the 200 mph mark It happened in 1970 in a Dodge at Talladega. Fonty Flock gave Chevrolet their first NASCAR win in South Carolina in 1955. Darlington was the first Super Speedway constructed in 1950.. Cale Yarborough was the first person to win three consecutive championships in 1976-1978.
Dale Earnhardt’s first career start was at Charlotte in 1975. Buddy Shuman won the first NASCAR race outside the U.S. at Stamford Park in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. Bobby Allison was the first driver to race with power steering at Dover in 1982. The first points race ran on rain tires, happened a couple of weeks ago and only this weekend Kyle Busch became the first driver to win on a road course three times in one season.
NASCAR has another first in its near future. Who will be the first person inducted into the new NASCAR Hall of Fame? Among those being considered are Bill France Sr, Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, David Pearson, and Darrell Waltrip.
NASCAR will have many more firsts in its future. Bet you can’t remember the last time you drove over 200 mph!