Sunday, September 24, 2023

1961 – Weatherly Captures Martinsville Race

Joe Weatherly is joined by car owner Bud Moore and the trophy girl after winning the Old Dominion 500 at Martinsville. 

Martinsville, Va. (September 24, 1961) – Joe Weatherly of Norfolk, Va., took the lead for the third time on the 419th lap and kept his 1961 Pontiac up front the rest of the way to win the Old Dominion 500 late model stock car race.

The veteran driver drove the 500-lap, 250-mile distance around Martinsville’s half-mile asphalt track in 3 hours. 59 minutes and 40 seconds, an average speed of 62.59 miles per hour.

Weatherly finished about 15 car lengths ahead of 1960 Grand National champion Rex White of Spartanburg, S.C., who had won the Old Dominion the last two years. White made a spirited bid, but his 1961 Chevrolet was slowed down by gear trouble after the 400th lap.

The victory, before a crowd of 17,000, was worth $3,425 plus lap money to Weatherly. White pocketed $1,750 for his second-place effort.

Pontiacs took four of the top-five places in the race. Three drivers at the wheel of 1961 Pontiacs – Junior Johnson of North Wilkesboro, N.C., Fireball Roberts of Daytona Beach, Fla., and Ken Rush of High Point, N.C. – finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

Twenty-eight cars started the race but only 16 were still on the track when the checkered flag waved. There were seven caution flags but no serious injuries.

Fred Lorenzen of Elmhurst, Ill., started on the pole and held the lead until lap 57 when Johnson whipped out in front. Weatherly took over on lap 111, Roberts on lap 127; Ned Jarrett of Newton, N.C., driving a 1961 Chevrolet, on the 130th.

Johnson went ahead again on lap 137 and held it until lap 300, when Weatherly forged in front. Johnson recovered the lead on lap 321, then yielded it to White on lap 360.

Results –

1. Joe Weatherly, Norfolk, Va.
2. Rex White, Spartanburg, S.C.
3. Junior Johnson, North Wilkesboro, N.C.
4. Fireball Roberts, Daytona Beach, Fla.
5. Ken Rush, High Point, N.C.
6. Jimmy Pardue, North Wilkesboro, N.C.
7. Emanuel Zervakis, Richmond, Va.
8. Art Malone, Tampa, Fla.
9. Larry Thomas, Trinity, N.C.
10.Bill Morton, Church Hill, Tenn.
11.G.C. Spencer, Inman, S.C.
12.Herman Beam, Johnson City, Tenn.
13.Ned Jarrett, Newton, N.C.
14.Fred Harb, High Point, N.C.
15.Doug Yates, Chapel Hill, N.C.
16.Laymon Utsman, Church Hill, Tenn.
17.Richard Petty, Randleman, N.C.
18.Fred Lorenzen, Elmhurst, Ill.
19.Jim Paschal, High Point, N.C.
20.Glen Wood, Stuart, Va.

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