Speeding Into The Fifties
When the NASCAR racers returned to the beach in 1951, it was The Wild Injun’ leading the Georgia Gang’s efforts on the sand.
In the Feb. 10 Sportsmen’s event, Buck Baker took the early lead with Gober Sosebee giving chase. On the 12th lap, Baker’s fuel pump quit, giving the lead to Joe Wolf. When Wolf’s Ford lost a shock absorber on lap 21, Sosebee took over the top spot. He would go on to take the win and the $1,000 prize money.
Tim Flock would finish third that day, then better it by one place for second behind Marshall Teague in the next day’s Grand National event.
It was a battle between members of the Georgia Gang that highlighted the Modified-Sportsman event on Feb. 9, 1952. Tim Flock streaked across the finish line 18 seconds ahead of Atlanta’s Jack Smith. Smith, however, was flagged as the winner. Flock called for a scoring check, which showed that he had indeed won the race. Smith was placed in second.
Smith, however, had other ideas.
When Flock showed up at the beach, his car did not have roll bars. The rulebook for 1952 stated that roof supports would be mandatory for all events. Bill France had some of his track workers use two-by-fours to construct a roll bar out of wood.
After the race, Smith went to the NASCAR officials to protest the wooden roll bars. The officials took the win away and gave it to Smith. Flock was given last place.
It looked like Fonty Flock had the field covered in the Feb. 15, 1953 Grand National event at Daytona. Fonty led 38 of the event’s 39 laps driving for fellow Georgian Frank Christian. But on the final circuit, Flock’s Oldsmobile ran out of gas. Slick Smith, Fonty’s teammate, pushed Flock’s car around to the pits, while Bill Blair cruised past for the win.
It was the first of a couple of blows not only for the Georgia Gang, but also for the Flock Brothers.
In Feb. 21, 1954 Grand National event, Tim Flock, piloting an Oldsmobile owned by Kentucky Colonel Ernest Woods, took the lead of the event on the third lap.
Flock dominated most of the event while being in constant communication with the pits via a two-way radio, the first time such was used in a Grand National event. Flock took the checkered flag by almost a minute and a half.
But in post race inspection, officials found the butterfly shaft on Flock’s carburetor had been soldered to keep it from vibrating loose. Flock was disqualified, and the win was given to Lee Petty.
It was the second time in three years that Tim Flock had been disqualified. It was the second time in two years that the Flock family and the Georgia Gang were denied victory on the beach.
Flock argued that the soldering gave him no advantage and only prevented potential problems. The race officials did not agree. Flock swore he was through with NASCAR, and sat out most of the 1954 season.
When he came back to the beach in ’55, he came back with a vengeance.