The NASCAR Cup Series is returning to Road America this weekend for the first time since 1956. (NASCAR Archives Photo)
The NASCAR Cup Series is returning to Road America this weekend for the first time since 1956. (NASCAR Archives Photo)

LOOKING BACK: NASCAR’s First Trip To Road America

Editor’s Note: The only NASCAR premier series race run at Road America prior to this weekend’s Cup Series race at the four-mile Wisconsin road course was won by Tim Flock in 1956. What follows are the National Speed Sport News race reports from that race and the previous day’s preliminary event, which was won by Paul Goldsmith and included Bill France Jr. as a driver

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. — Tim Flock, holder of Grand National championships in 1952 and 1955, won Road America’s first 250-mile stock car race here Sunday, in three hours, 29 minutes and 50 seconds. He averaged 71.48 mph over the trick four-mile sports car course, driving a ’56 Mercury.

Seventeen seconds behind Flock came Bill Myers, also at the wheel of a ’56 Mercury. Myers, a veteran driver at 39, won the NASCAR national sportsman crown last year. Third place went to Fireball Roberts in a ’56 Ford.

Paul Goldsmith, who won the 100-miler here Saturday in a Mark VII Jaguar, switched to a ’56 Chevrolet for the 250 feature event and finished fourth. Following Goldsmith were Joe Eubanks in a ’56 Ford and Herb Thomas, driving a ’56 Chevrolet.

As might be expected, the race was marked with frequent pit stops, most of which were for gas, few for tires, strange as it may seem. Brakes, which many experts anticipated giving trouble, held up remarkably well, despite the punishment they were forced to take. The engines, however, gave the boys plenty of headaches.

Just as the race was about to get under way, a bolt of lightning let loose and the next moment the rains came, holding up the activities for close to 40 minutes. But the moment the rains ceased, the cannon boomed the signal to get going, and the field shot forth over a track covered in many places with over two inches of water.

PhotoraIn view of the slickness of the course, bearing in mind that the turns and sudden rises call for a master at the wheel even under ordinary conditions, most observers including Jim Kimberly, Paul Van Andtwerpen and Andy Rosenberger, all seasoned sports car drivers, opined that Flock and the entire field turned in a remarkable demonstration of stock car handling, all things considered.

Frank Mundy turned in the fastest time in the qualifications, doing three laps over the four-mile course in 9:27.52, with a ’56 Dodge. Buck Baker, driving Mundy’s car, dashed out in front to lead the field up to the fifth lap, when he was forced to make a pit stop, which then put Flock in the lead for a couple turns.

At this point, Goldsmith who was in ninth place, rounded a turn too fast and was forced to head into an escape road, losing a few positions. Myers, also too fast on a curve, hit a hay bale and did a bit of spinning.

On the 13th lap, Marvin Panch shot into the lead and hung on with the grip of a bulldog, giving rise to many that he was the lad to watch. Pulling into the 35th lap, Panch began having difficulty with his brakes. Then suddenly, they gave out completely, and to the utter astonishment, the spectators were treated to the spectacle of Fireball Roberts pushing his troubled mate along until the pits were reached. Roberts naturally forfeited his position with his little act of kindness. It was true sportsmanship indeed, seldom to be found even in a sports car race. A little later, Mundy turned the same trick for Baker.

At the 100-mile mark, it was Panch, Thompson, Mundy, Flock and Baker. When the field rolled into the 200-mile portion, it was Speedy Thompson, with Flock, Myers, Roberts, Eubanks, Moody, Baker, Thomas and Jim Paschall, following in that order.

Flock won and earned $2,900 with Myers, Roberts, Goldsmith and Eubanks following. 

Click here for results from this race.

PrelimPRELIM

Paul Goldsmith, veteran motorcycle racer, emerged as the dark horse in winning the 100-mile stock car race for cars of 3,500 ccs and under on the nation’s foremost sports car course Saturday.

It marked the first stock car race ever presented here and offered the automotive field a host of answers to many of their most perplexing problems relative to racing on a trick track of this type.

Goldsmith, lately a star in stock car events, averaged 59.2 mph in a Mark VII Jaguar and led the pack by 74 seconds to become the No. 1 qualifier for the 250-mile grind on Sunday in a field of American and foreign stock cars.

He covered the course, four miles of winding, twisting up hill and down dale stretches, in one hour, 41 minutes and 21 seconds.

As a gentle refresher, it will be recalled that Carroll Shelby won the sports car feature event here last June, driving a Ferrari to an average of 84 mph.

Jerry Walter, another veteran motorcycle racer, trailed Goldsmith with a Studebaker. In their wakes, were Herb Thomas, who needs no introduction to stock car racing fans and Bill France Jr., both driving Ford Zephers.

France showed his stuff immediately by dashing into the lead, and hung on grimly for the next two laps when Walters began to assert himself by sweeping into the lead on the third, only to spin out on the fourth round.

Goldsmith, in the meantime, had been creeping up from behind, and took over on the fifth lap. While Walters lost only a few seconds because of his spin, he was nevertheless unable to regain the lead and was forced to be satisfied with second place.

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