1963 Richmond 250 (partially found footage of NASCAR Grand National Series qualifying session and race; 1963)

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1963richmond2501.png

Associated Press reporting on Joe Weatherly winning the race.

Status: Partially Found

The 1963 Richmond 250 was the 15th race of the 1963 NASCAR Grand National Series. Occurring on 7th April at the Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds, the race would ultimately be won by Joe Weatherly in a 1963 Pontiac, capitalising when long-term leader and 1963 Chevrolet driver Junior Johnson suffered an engine failure. While the race was not televised, it is known that WRVA-TV aired footage of the qualifying session.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1963 Richmond 250 was the 3rd running of the event, with the annual race typically lasting around 250 laps or around 125 miles in length.[1] It was one of two 1963 Grand National races at Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds, the other being the Capital City 300,[2] which occurred on 8th September and was won by Ned Jarrett in a 1963 Ford.[3] The race also has ties to the modern Toyota Owners 400, having been expanded to 400 laps since 1976, and having dropped the Richmond title since 1984.[4]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Rex White winning the pole position in a 1962 Chevrolet with a speed of 69.151 mph.[5][1] Directly behind him was 1963 Dodge driver David Pearson, with Joe Weatherly lining up third out of 25 competitors.[1][5] Meanwhile, 1963 Ford drivers Fred Lorenzen and Fireball Roberts were considered some of the favourites to win, but only qualified 15th and 9th respectively.[6] A few months before the race, it is known that Richmond promoter Paul Sawyer drove the Richmond pace car to the 1963 Riverside 500 to advertise the April event.[7]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1963 Richmond 250 commenced on 7th April.[1] Pearson shot into the lead on the opening lap, holding it until Weatherly passed him on lap 5.[1] Weatherly could only hold onto his lead for five laps though, before Junior Johnson passed him for the first position on lap 10, controlling the early stages by leading 61 consecutive laps.[1] Weatherly retook it on lap 71, leading 11 consecutive laps before again being passed, this time by Jim Paschal in a 1963 Plymouth.[1] Paschal led 48 laps only to retire due to a differential failure, handing the lead to Johnson, who defended the first position for another 34 laps.[1] Pre-race favourites Roberts and Lorenzen retired after 70 and 80 laps respectively, both because of engine failures.[6][1]

Johnson briefly lost the lead to Pearson, but retook it six laps later on lap 170.[1] From then onwards, the battle for the lead became a duel between Johnson and Weatherly, with the latter successfully achieving an overtake on lap 187.[1] Johnson retook the lead on lap 191, before dropping it back to Weatherly in what would be the final lead change on lap 208.[1][6] Nevertheless, Johnson remained in contention, only being two seconds away from the leader.[6] Suddenly, on lap 244, Johnson's engine failed,[1] causing him to spin out and hit a fence, though he ultimately escaped uninjured.[6][5] This brought out the caution flag that lasted until the final lap, enabling Weatherly to claim victory and $2,400 in prize money.[6][1][5] Jarrett finished second, while White took third.[1][6][5]

Availability[edit | edit source]

The race itself was untelevised, although an 8mm film consisting of 2 minutes and 20 seconds of race footage was uploaded to YouTube by DanObx64 on 10th March 2011.[5] While the title does say "Richmond raceway 1964", analysis of the footage by RacersReunion member Dave Fulton confirms it recorded the 1963 event.[5]

While no television footage of the race exists, nascarman History detailed in his video Top 10 LOST NASCAR TV Broadcasts that local Richmond, Virginia television station WRVA-TV presented live coverage of the qualifying session that occurred hours before the race. However, no clips of the broadcast are known to have survived.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Videos[edit | edit source]

Film of the race itself.
Top 10 LOST NASCAR TV Broadcasts detailing the WRVA-TV broadcast of the qualifying session (0:49-1:18).


Images[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]