Artifact: Investing in NASCAR and North Carolina
by Daniel J. Simone, Ph.D. April 16, 2021
Curtis Turner and Wood Brothers Win Inaugural Race At ‘The Rock’
Accession Number: 2021.1.3
Donor: Jo DeWitt Wilson
Beginning with the first Daytona 500 in 1959 and throughout the 1960s, NASCAR began racing more frequently on brand-new tracks, most of which were longer, faster, and more steeply banked than tracks from the previous decade. Charlotte Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway both began hosting races in 1960. Another new track, North Carolina Motor Speedway, was proposed in the mid-1960s at Rockingham, North Carolina, about a 90-minute drive from Charlotte.
Jo DeWitt Wilson, daughter of longtime track president L.G. DeWitt, donated numerous one-of-kind artifacts associated with the track’s early days—including financial ledgers, correspondence, and nearly 200 stock certificates. Richard Howard, longtime head of Charlotte Motor Speedway, and Harold Brasington, Darlington Raceway founder and 2017 Landmark Award Winner for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR, were major investors in the new track and owned a significant portion of the stock. Two of their stock certificates are pictured here.
North Carolina Motor Speedway, or “The Rock” as it became known, featured 42 NASCAR premier series races from 1965-2004. The inaugural race, the American 500, could serve as an excellent category on a NASCAR-themed version of the gameshow “Jeopardy.” The event took place on Halloween and roughly 35,000 fans watched Curtis Turner (2016) claim his 17th and final career win.
He drove a Wood Brothers-owned Ford into victory lane, giving Glen (2012) and Leonard (2013) their fifth victory on the season (with their fourth different driver). Dan Gurney, A.J. Foyt, and Marvin Panch all won for the Wood Brothers earlier in the season. L. G. DeWitt, by the way, would also become a championship car owner in 1973 with Benny Parsons (2017) as his driver.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame is open Wednesday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To purchase tickets, go to nascarhall.com/tickets.