Wednesday, September 15, 2021

1957 – Staley Surprise Winner in ‘Horne 300’

Langhorne, Penn. (September 15, 1957) - Mechanical difficulties forced four of the top drivers in the nation out of the 300-mile Grand National championship sweepstakes— open to late model sedans and convertibles—and a virtual unknown romped to victory in record-breaking time, at Langhorne Speedway on Sunday afternoon.

Gwyn Staley of North Wilkesboro, N.C., finished two laps ahead of Whitey Norman. Staley drove a ’57 Chevrolet convertible, while Norman chauffeured a '57 Ford sedan.

Staley was timed in 4 hours, 4 minutes and 2.20 seconds for an average speed of 73.755 miles per hour. The old record was set last year by Paul Goldsmith when he traveled over the 300-mile route in 4:06:33.97 or 73.60 miles per hour.

Fireball Roberts, Goldsmith, Bill Amick and Jim Reed each held the lead at different intervals during the first 210 laps. In turn, each dropped out of the contest with car troubles. Staley took over near the 200-mark and led the rest of the way.

The big surprise of the race was the fact that a new speed standard was set even though the caution flag was dropped five times.

Goldsmith, who turned in the fastest clocking at Saturday’s time trials, and Roberts the runner-up, put on a private dual for the huge crowd, estimated at over 20,000. The pair roared around the Route One oval at speeds in excess of 90 miles per hour.

Goldsmith took a long pit stop and fell behind. Roberts also took a pit stop and Amick took the lead. Roberts regained the lead at the 105-mile mark and stayed in front until the 175th when front end trouble forced him out of the race. Reed took over as the leader until motor trouble forced him out, too.

Staley had a little trouble after that. The winner started from 26th position and slowly but surely advanced his way, position by position, to the winner’s purse.

Johnny Allen, in a ’57 Plymouth, was third. Rex Allen, in a ’57 Chevrolet, nosed out Buck Baker also driving a ’57 Chevrolet, in a battle for fourth and fifth positions.

Dave Terrell, of Newtown, turned in what was probably his best performance at Langhorne. Starting from 23rd position, Terrell fought his way up to sixth place. He drove a ’57 Chevrolet convertible.

Marvin Panch was the luckiest and unluckiest driver of the day. He hit the fence on the fourth turn of the 85th lap. He escaped without a scratch. His car was towed to the pits. After some furious work by his pit crew, Panch re-entered the race. But, engine trouble kept him in the pits most of the afternoon.

On the 165th lap, Al White blew a front tire on the first turn and barely missed being hit by on-coming traffic. Twenty laps later, Tiny Lund and Speedy Thompson both this the fence between the first and second turns. Neither driver was hurt, but both cars were badly damaged.

Neil Castle dropped out on the 245th lap when the gas tank on his car fell off.

Lee Petty’s pit crew turned in one of the best jobs of the day when it changed an axle in six minutes.

Results –

1. Gwen Staley
2. Whitey Norman
3. Johnny Allen
4. Rex White
5. Buck Baker
6. Dave Terrell
7. Joe Weatherly
8. Ken Marriott
9. Tommie Elliott
10.Darel Dieringer
11.Frankie Schneider
12.Bob Welborn
13.Larry Frank
14.Lee Petty
15.Pee Wee Jones
16.Roger Baldwin
17.Fireball Roberts
18.Ted Chamberlain
19.Don Gray
20.Bill Benson
21.Art Binkley
22.Bill Champion
23.Possum Jones
24.Jim Reed
25.L.D. Austin
26.Emanuel Zervakis
27.Huck Spaulding
28.Harvey Eakin
29.Bill Amick
30.Neil Castles
31.Speedy Thompson
32.Tiny Lund
33.Paul Goldsmith
34.Marvin Panch
35.Elton Hildreth
36.Glen Wood
37.Dick Klank
38.Jack Smith

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