Richard Petty and Me, Chapter 4″The Year of The Thumpers”

To begin this chapter, I need to point out that attendance and short track races with my Uncle Bobby and me, has continued right on.  We sort of limited tracks close to home such as Columbia Speedway, Newberry Speedway, and Greenville-Pickens.  We would venture out a couple of times a year for a Grand National event.  Our attendance at this race together would continue 1962 when my Daddy finally allowed me to get a driver’s license.  Still, I didn’t get to drive to out of town races but at least I was driving.

The 1960 season actually began with a two hundred lapper at the half mile dirt track in Charlotte.  Lee and Richard both raced with Lee finishing 7th and Richard 12th. Next race was Columbia Speedway where Lee finished 4th and Richard 6th.  If you, the reader, can get your hands on records from the 1960 season can read about all the complications and problems with the season, not limited to a race between compact cars which aired on NBC’s morning show taking less than 5 minutes to complete.

The Daytona 500 was hindered by high winds which resulted in many damaged cars, so many in fact, that two short track races scheduled over the next two weeks, Junior Johnson won the 500 and is often credited for discovering drafting that day. Richard finished 3rd and Lee was fourth.  Good runs for the high finned 1960 Plymouths which I still think was beautiful cars.  Beautiful Petty Blue with the Bambi character “Thumper” written on the front indenture behind the headlights.  That was Daytona, time to move on.

We’ll jump to Race number 6 at the Charlotte Fairgrounds for a 100 miler on that half mile dirt track.  Richard took the lead from Rex White with 18 laps to go and Richard had his first Grand National victory.  The first of what would become 200. I was not there but when the newspaper came the next morning and I read the results, I was bouncing around like a kid in a bounce house. I immediately ran across the street to Bobby’s house to tell him.  He sorts of smirked as he said Lee was still the man,

Photo Credit: Nascar Behind the Wall

The news was out that a mile and a half track was being built in Charlotte and the race was scheduled for May 29th.  The race would be postponed until June 21st because of problems with asphalt.  Even on the first day of qualifying track works were still working on that.  Bobby gave in to my constant begging and agreed we would go.  The day came, we left Columbia early in the morning and finally parked in the infield.  There was a deep hole in turns 3 and 4 and walked down to the fence to check out the view.  I would end up watching the entire race from there, never even sitting down.  Oh, to be able to do that today.  When the race was over, Bobby Johns, Richard Petty and Lee Petty took third, fourth and fifth.  It was a good ride home although I fell asleep about 30 minutes from home.  A few days later NASCAR disqualified all three Petty Cars along with four other cars for “improper pit entry” (cutting across the infield grass)).  I was only 13 and didn’t know all the words, but if I did. NASCAR would have received the most crude letter.

On July 10th Lee Petty won and Richard finished second on a half mile track in Pittsburgh, PA.  At the race on Rambi Raceway. later known as Myrtle Beach Speedway we were there to see both Petty Cars finish in the top five.  The race at Birmingham, Al is significant because Richard Petty was second, Lee third and Maurice Petty finishing in 9th.  Not a bad day for the Thumpers. The Southern 500 was ok simply because Jim Paschal driving for the Pettys was third and Richard was sixth.  Watched the race up next to the fence in turn four.

Myrtle Beach Speedway. Photo Credit: American Racing Network

The thiry-ninth race of the year at Orange County speedway would see Richard wins leaving 198 victories to go for 200.  All in all, the 1960 season was ok for the Petty operation but it was Rex White who rolled to the champion ship.  I couldn’t be to upset, Richard had a couple of wins and Rex was (and still is) a great guy. I sort of miss those tail fins on those ’60 Plymouths.

Don’t forget to listen to our podcasts, The Racing Spotlight or Ghosttracks & Legends Race Talk on Thursday nights at 7:00 PM Eastern Time. (Archived podcasts also found there as well)

Tim Leeming

The Racing Spotlight ( & Ghosttracks RaceTalk ( 

(Editor’s note: If you missed any of Tim Leeming’s articles, here at PTR; they can all be found Here )

Photo Credit (cover): Ebay Motors Blog


  1. These are so fantastic! Have enjoyed reading every one of them. Thank you for continuing to share and allow us to recall our own memories of those years. I smile a lot while reading.
    I am so glad a lot of us from RFF have congregated here and continue to share so many racing memories. I don’t write any more, but am glad a lot of you do.
    Life is good, isn’t it?

  2. Vivian, yes like is good, Thank you so much for your kind comments. When I’m working on these my memory sometims acts as a taoe recordsed vudei, I had several personal encounters with Richard up until 1960 but we reakky started connecting in 1961 firward, Those stories will be coming. Thank you again,

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