1952 Southern 500
Race details[1][2]
Race 25 of 34 in the 1952 NASCAR Grand National Series season
Fonty Flock makes his way into "Winner's Circle" with the help of crew chief Red Vogt.
Date September 1, 1952 (1952-September-01)
Official name Southern 500
Location Darlington Raceway, Darlington, South Carolina
Course Permanent racing facility
1.375 mi (2.213 km)
Distance 500 laps, 500.0 mi (804.6 km)
Weather Extremely hot with temperatures of 91 °F (33 °C); wind speeds of 11.1 miles per hour (17.9 km/h)
Average speed 74.512 miles per hour (119.915 km/h)
Attendance 32,400
Pole position
Driver Frank Christian
Most laps led
Driver Fonty Flock Frank Christian
Laps 341
No. 14 Fonty Flock Frank Christian
Television in the United States
Network untelevised
Announcers none

The 1952 Southern 500, the third running of the event, was a NASCAR Grand National Series event that was held on September 1, 1952, at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina.


Darlington Raceway, nicknamed by many NASCAR fans and drivers as "The Lady in Black" or "The Track Too Tough to Tame" and advertised as a "NASCAR Tradition", is a race track built for NASCAR racing located near Darlington, South Carolina. It is of a unique, somewhat egg-shaped design, an oval with the ends of very different configurations, a condition which supposedly arose from the proximity of one end of the track to a minnow pond the owner refused to relocate. This situation makes it very challenging for the crews to set up their cars' handling in a way that will be effective at both ends.

The track is a four-turn 1.366 miles (2.198 km) oval.[3] The track's first two turns are banked at twenty-five degrees, while the final two turns are banked two degrees lower at twenty-three degrees.[3] The front stretch (the location of the finish line) and the back stretch is banked at six degrees.[3] Darlington Raceway can seat up to 60,000 people.[3]

Darlington has something of a legendary quality among drivers and older fans; this is probably due to its long track length relative to other NASCAR speedways of its era and hence the first venue where many of them became cognizant of the truly high speeds that stock cars could achieve on a long track. The track allegedly earned the moniker The Lady in Black because the night before the race the track maintenance crew would cover the entire track with fresh asphalt sealant, in the early years of the speedway, thus making the racing surface dark black. Darlington is also known as "The Track Too Tough to Tame" because drivers can run lap after lap without a problem and then bounce off of the wall the following lap. Racers will frequently explain that they have to race the racetrack, not their competition. Drivers hitting the wall are considered to have received their "Darlington Stripe" thanks to the missing paint on the right side of the car.

Race report

Seven cautions were waved for forty laps in front of 32,400 audience members.[2] The race's speed was 74.512 miles per hour (119.915 km/h) and 88.550 miles per hour (142.507 km/h) as the pole position speed.[2] This race was constantly threatened to be postponed because of rain and was red flagged once because of actual rainfall.[4] It took six hours, forty-two minutes, and thirty-seven seconds for the race to reach its conclusion, making it the longest Southern 500 ever; Fonty Flock was the winner.[2] He would stop on the front straight, climb up on his hood and lead the entire crowd in singing his own version of the classic Southern American song Dixie.[4]

Flock's uniform would consist of Bermuda shorts and argyle socks in addition to a pencil-thin moustache reminiscent of Clark Gable.[5][6]

Total winnings for this race were $23,855 ($229,672 when adjusted for inflation). Sixty-six drivers competed; all of them were born in the United States.[2] Jim Paschal was the last place driver of the race; finishing in 66th with an engine problem on lap 18. Jimmy Ingram flipped his vehicle over on lap 91. In four attempts this was Tommy Thompson's best finish at Darlington.[2] There were 12 different manufacturers in this race.[2] Johnny Patterson's awesome 2nd place finish in his second start would prove to be his best in the Cup series.[2] As well as the best finish for owner H.B. Ranier, father of Harry Ranier.[2]

Ranier-Lundy Racing and Petty Enterprises were the only non-independent racing teams to show up for this race.[7]

Tony Bonadies, Johnny Bridgers, Merritt Brown, Johnny Gouveia, Keith Hamner, Possum Jones, Pete Kelly, Banjo Matthews and Joe Weatherly made their NASCAR Grand National Series debut in this event. Roy Hall, Rudy Hires, Jimmy Ingram, Bill Miller, E. C. Ramsey and Rollin Smith would never race in professional stock car racing after this race. W. E. Baker, Al Conroy, Al Fleming and Herb Fry would make their only NASCAR appearances at this race.[8] Red Vogt, Julian Buesink and B.B. Blackburn were the three notable crew chiefs at this event.[9]

Finishing order

Section reference:[2]

  1. Fonty Flock
  2. Johnny Patterson
  3. Herb Thomas
  4. Bub King
  5. Banjo Matthews
  6. Lee Petty
  7. Joe Eubanks
  8. Herschel Buchanan
  9. Buck Baker
  10. Ray Duhigg
  11. Jack Smith
  12. Rollin Smith
  13. Jimmy Thompson
  14. Speedy Thompson
  15. Lloyd Moore
  16. Joe Weatherly
  17. Buddy Shuman
  18. Keith Hammer
  19. Clyde Pittinger
  20. Pat Kirkwood
  21. Gene Comstock
  22. W.E. Baker
  23. Herb Fry
  24. Iggy Katona
  25. Dick Passwater
  26. Bill Miller
  27. Tony Bonadies
  28. Donald Thomas
  29. Bob Flock
  30. Erwin Blatt
  31. Ted Chamberlain
  32. Al Fleming
  33. Tim Flock
  34. E.C. Ramsey
  35. Dick Rathmann
  36. Al Conroy
  37. Coleman Lawrence
  38. Charles Weidler
  39. Rudy Hires
  40. Ralph Liguori
  41. Lamar Crabtree
  42. Johnny Bridgers
  43. Tommy Moon
  44. Bill Blair
  45. June Cleveland
  46. Joe Guide
  47. Possum Jones
  48. Roy Hall
  49. Fireball Roberts
  50. Jimmie Lewallen
  51. Pete Kelly
  52. Bobby Myers
  53. Bucky Sager
  54. Bob Pronger
  55. Larry Mann
  56. Weldon Adams
  57. Jimmy Ingram
  58. Gwyn Staley
  59. Johnny Gouveia
  60. Tommy Thompson
  61. Curtis Turner
  62. Gene Darragh
  63. Merritt Brown
  64. Slick Smith
  65. Clyde Minter
  66. Jim Paschal


Section reference:[2]


  1. ^ "1952 Southern 500 weather information". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2012-12-15.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "1952 Southern 500 information". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2011-02-20.
  3. ^ a b c d "Darlington Raceway". CBS Sports. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
  4. ^ a b "1952 Southern 500 information (weather/additional race reference)". Motor Racing Network. Archived from the original on 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
  5. ^ "Fonty Flock's Racing Uniform @ the 1952 Southern 500". Georgia Racing History. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
  6. ^ "Fonty Flock's Racing Uniform @ the 1952 Southern 500 (second reference)". Encyclopedia of Alabama. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
  7. ^ "1952 Southern 500 NASCAR racing teams information". Driver Averages. Archived from the original on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2012-12-15.
  8. ^ Notable drivers at Race Database
  9. ^ "1952 Southern 500 crew chief information". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2017-07-10.
Preceded by
Southern 500 races
Succeeded by