April Six Pack
by Tom Jensen April 22, 2022
Fireball Roberts, Dale Earnhardt, David Pearson and Richard Petty among the NASCAR legends who came up big in April.
April is a month of highs and lows. It’s the month George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States, and the birth month for world-changing talents like Leonardo da Vinci and William Shakespeare. It’s also the month that the first modern Olympics took place in 1896 and the month Ford launched its iconic Mustang in 1964. All good stuff.
On the other hand, the Titanic sank in April 1912 and the Chernobyl nuclear plant blew up in April 1986. Alas, April is also the month when taxes are due every year and people do dumb pranks on April Fools’ Day. So there’s that.
In NASCAR, April is a big month for racing. Suffice to say, in NASCAR’s the sport’s legends knew how to come up big when it counted each April.
Following are six fun facts about NASCAR, April races and NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees.
The first premier series race staged in April was a 200-lapper on the old 0.750-mile Charlotte Speedway dirt track near what today is Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. Contested on April 2, 1950, the battle was the second of 19 races on the 1950 premier series schedule. Hall of Famer Tim Flock (2014) took the victory and the $1,500 winner’s check in his 1949 Lincoln ahead of brother Bob Flock. It was the first of 39 career wins for Tim, who would go on to becomes a two-time champion.
The entry blank for the first premier series racer at Charlotte Speedway in 1949 is on display in Heritage Speedway at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Fireball Fabulous in ‘57
April 1957 was an incredible month for Hall of Famer Fireball Roberts (2014). The Daytona Beach native began the month with a victory in the April 7 Wilkes County 160 at North Wilkesboro Speedway. A week later, Roberts headed north to the challenging Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania, where he won a 150-lap feature on the 1-mile dirt track. On April 19, Roberts won his third consecutive race, a 200-lapper at Southern States Fairgrounds in Charlotte. Finally, on April 27 Roberts finished second to his DePaolo Engineering Ford teammate Marvin Panch at Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
End Of An Era
The 1964 Virginia 500, which took place April 26 at Martinsville Speedway, was won by Hall of Famer Fred Lorenzen (2015) and was his second of four consecutive race victories at the iconic Virginia short track. The race was notable for another reason: It was the last Martinsville race where the winner received a conventional trophy. Beginning with Martinsville’s second race of 1964 and continuing to this very day, Martinsville winners receive a Ridgeway Clock Co. Grandfather Clock.
Fred Lorenzen’s 1964 Martinsville trophy and the Ridgeway Clock he won later that year are both on display at the NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of our Martinsville Speedway 75th Anniversary Exhibit located in our “Inside NASCAR” area.
Four In A Row
In NASCAR’s long history, only once has a driver won four consecutive races in April. That honor belongs to Hall of Famer David Pearson (2011) who in his first championship season of 1966 claimed four consecutive victories, three of which came on dirt tracks. Pearson’s record hot streak began April 3 at North Carolina’s Hickory Speedway, followed by wins at two South Carolina tracks, Columbia Speedway on April 7 and Greenville-Pickens Speedway on April 9. The fourth and final win for Pearson came April 11 at North Carolina’s Bowman Gray Stadium, the only paved track among the four.
An Intimidating Performance
The 1987 season marked a career year for Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt, who set a personal best with 11 victories in a single season as he dominated the premier series field to win his third of a record-tying seven championships. “The Intimidator” won four races in a row in the spring, although the first of the four was at Darlington Raceway in late March. Earnhardt followed that by sweeping all three April races: At North Wilkesboro Speedway on April 5, Bristol Motor Speedway a week later and, finally, Martinsville Speedway on April 26.
Fit For “The King”
We saved the best for last: Hall of Famer Richard Petty (2010) won an amazing 30 races in April during his career. To put that number into context, “The King” won more races in the month of April alone than 15 Hall of Famers did in their entire careers. In both 1967 and ’71, two of his seven championship seasons, Petty won four races in April. In each of those two seasons he won April races at Martinsville Speedway, where Petty holds the track record with 15 premier series race wins.
Richard Petty’s first and last championship cars are on display in the NASCAR Hall of Fame as part our “Dale Jr.: Glory Road Champions” exhibit.
Plan your visit to the NASCAR Hall of Fame and purchase tickets by visiting nascarhall.com/tickets.