Ned Jarrett and Rex White used talent on the short tracks to become the championship contenders during the 1961 NASCAR Cup Series season, collecting a combined eight victories throughout the 52-race premier series schedule.
Jarrett, a native of Newton, North Carolina, had competed in NASCAR’s premier series for eight seasons before making a championship bid in 1961. Team owner
B.G. Holloway fielded the No. 11 Chevrolet with Bud All- man serving as chief mechanic, a position known today as crew chief, for 46 of 52 races on the schedule.
Jarrett visited Victory Lane only once, topping Jim Paschal in a 100-mile event on June 4 at the Alabama State Fairgrounds in Birmingham. His championship season was sealed by consistency through 29 top-five finishes and 34 top-10 results.
White, driving his own No. 4 Chevrolet, won seven races in 47 starts that season, logging 29 top-five results and 38 top-10 finishes. The Taylorsville, North Carolina, native employed Louis Clements, grandfather of current Xfinity Series competitor Jeremy Clements, as his chief mechanic. Even though their number of wins was far greater that Jarrett’s, the team came up 840 points short under the system NASCAR used that year.
Races of 249 miles or less were awarded 50 points to the winner. Races of 250 to 399 miles awarded 100 points to the winner. Races lasting 400 miles or longer awarded 150 points to the winner. White failed to finish seven times during the season as the number of laps completed was also a factor in determining the championship.
White’s wins came at Bowman Gray Stadium (3) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway (2); Asheville-Weaverville (N.C.) Speedway; and Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
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GALLON OF GAS: 31 Cents
JOE WEATHERLY, driving a Ford owned by Doc White and a Pontiac owned by Bud Moore, won nine NASCAR Cup Series races during the 1961 season. The Norfolk, Virginia, native opened the season with a victory in the final event at the Charlotte Fairgrounds. He also won at Daytona, twice at Charlotte Motor Speedway and on short tracks in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Hillsboro, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; Martinsville, Virginia; and Bristol, Tennessee.
ON MAY 6, 1961, young Fred Lorenzen, driving a Holman Moody Ford, and veteran Curtis Turner, in the Wood Brothers Racing Ford, battled for the win in the Rebel 300, bumping an estimated 50 times in the final 20 laps. Turner blocked Lorenzen numerous times while shaking fists at one another until Lorenzen faked high and went low. Lorenzen held a six-car length lead with two laps remaining and maintained it until crossing under the checkered flag.
Ned Jarrett’s No. 11 blue-and-white Chevrolet Impala owned by B.G. Holloway – a one- race winner. Rex White’s No. 4 gold- and-white Chevrolet Impala – winner of seven races.
DATE | LOCATION | WINNER
November 6 | Charlotte Fairgrounds | Joe Weatherly
November 20 | Speedway Park | Lee Petty
February 24 | Daytona International Speedway | Fireball Roberts
February 24 | Daytona International Speedway | Joe Weatherly
February 26 | Daytona International Speedway | Marvin Panch
March 4 | Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds | Cotton Owens
March 5 | Asheville-Weaverville Speedway | Rex White
March 12 | Marchbanks Speedway | Fireball Roberts
March 26 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Bob Burdick
April 1 | Greenville-Pickens Speedway | Emanuel Zervakis
April 2 | Orange Speedway | Cotton Owens
April 3 | Bowman Gray Stadium | Rex White
April 9 | Martinsville Speedway | Fred Lorenzen
April 16 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | Rex White
April 20 | Columbia Speedway | Cotton Owens
April 22 | Hickory Motor Speedway | Junior Johnson
April 23 | Richmond Raceway | Richard Petty
April 30 | Martinsville Speedway | Junior Johnson
May 6 | Darlington Raceway | Fred Lorenzen
May 21 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Richard Petty
May 21 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Joe Weatherly
May 21 | Riverside International Raceway | Lloyd Dane
May 27 | Ascot Speedway | Eddie Gray
May 28 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | David Pearson
June 2 | Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds | Jim Paschal
June 4 | Alabama State Fairgrounds | Ned Jarrett
June 8 | Greenville-Pickens Speedway | Jack Smith
June 10 | Bowman Gray Stadium | Rex White
June 17 | Norwood Arena | Emanuel Zervakis
June 23 | Hartsville Speedway | Buck Baker
June 24 | Starkey Speedway | Junior Johnson
July 4 | Daytona International Speedway | David Pearson
July 9 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Fred Lorenzen
July 20 | Columbia Speedway | Cotton Owens
July 22 | Rambi Raceway | Joe Weatherly
July 29 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Jack Smith
August 6 | Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville | Jim Paschal
August 9 | Bowman Grady Stadium | Rex White
August 13 | Asheville-Weaverville Speedway | Junior Johnson
August 18 | Southside Speedway | Junior Johnson
August 27 | South Boston Speedway | Junior Johnson
September 4 | Darlington Raceway | Nelson Stacy
September 8 | Hickory Motor Speedway | Rex White
September 10 | Richmond Raceway | Joe Weatherly
September 10 | Sacramento Fairgrounds | Eddie Gray
September 17 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | David Pearson
September 24 | Martinsville Speedway | Joe Weatherly
October 1 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | Rex White
October 15 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Joe Weatherly
October 22 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Joe Weatherly
October 28 | Greenville-Pickens Speedway | Junior Johnson
October 29 | Orange Speedway | Joe Weatherly