Celebrating 50 Years with 'The King'

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of Richard Petty's first race, which occurred on July 12, 1958. In celebration of his half-century of involvement in NASCAR, here is a reproduction of a Petty Enterprises race report from that day. In his first two years of racing, Petty competed in two different NASCAR series, the Convertible Series and the Grand National Series (which is now the Sprint Cup Series). During his 35-year career 'The King' scored a record-setting 200 victories and seven Winston Cup Championships. Today, 50 years after he began racing, Richard Petty continues to dedicate his life to the sport that made him a true American icon.


RANDLEMAN, NC (July 12, 1958) -- This was a successful and special weekend for Petty Enterprises. Lee Petty drove to his 15th top-5 of the season and his son, Richard, scored a sixth-place finish in his first NASCAR race.

Driving the #42 Petty Enterprises Oldsmobile, Lee Petty finished fourth at McCormick Field, a quarter-mile paved track in Asheville, N.C. Jim Paschal won the event, which was Grand National race number 29. Paschal was piloting the #49 Chevrolet; he started first and led all 150 laps of the 48 minute race.

Fifteen cars began the event and twelve were running at the conclusion. Petty finished one lap down, he followed Cotton Owens and Rex White across the stripe. Jack Smith was two laps down and came in fifth. Petty earned $265 for his top-5 finish. He has won four races so far this season.

Racing this weekend at Columbia Speedway in Columbia, S.C., was Lee's son, Richard, who made his NASCAR debut in race number 14 for the Convertible Series. Bob Welborn took the win but Richard, who turned 21 only ten days ago, made a strong showing in his first race by finishing sixth.

"That was fun, a lot of fun," said Petty. "I've been watching my dad race all these years. It feels good that he trusted me, Dale [Inman] and Red [Myler] to come down here and race. I'm glad he had a good run in Asheville. For us to come home sixth, man, that feels like a win. It was real muddy, real slick out there. I learned a lot though. With a little more experience I think I can compete with these guys."

Richard started 13th in the #42 Petty Engineering Oldsmobile and moved through the field to finish only five laps down. Twenty-five cars started the 100-mile event but only 10 were running at the close of the race, which lasted nearly two hours. The young Petty won $200 for his first top-10 finish.

Fireball Roberts started from the pole in his #22 Chevrolet and crossed the stripe in second place. Larry Frank stayed on the lead lap to earn a third-place finish. Completing the top five were Doug Cox and George Dunn. Columbia Speedway is a half-mile dirt track that has hosted the Convertible Series since NASCAR began running the division in 1956.

The next Grand National event for Lee Petty is in four days at State Line Speedway in Busti, NY. Richard Petty's next race will be on July 18th in Toronto at the Canadian Exposition Stadium. It is scheduled to be Richard's Grand National Series debut; he will race alongside his father for the first time.

-credit: pe