"Strictly Stock"
The Champions of 1955 & 1956

by Dan Elliott

      The successes of the 300 at the 1955 Daytona Speed Weeks is well-known: Tim Flock, who fortuitously was introduced to Carl by Orlando, Florida Mercury Marine dealer Tommy Hagood, won the Daytona driving the graphite covered 300 in the same way he had been denied the 1954 race: He was awarded the win after the first-place finisher was disqualified because of mechanical improprieties. In this instance, it was grind marks on the pushrods of Fireball Roberts' M-1 Buick Century. Chrysler 300's also were driven in Flying Mile events for Chrysler at the hands of Brewster Shaw, the owner of San Juan Chrysler of Daytona Beach and a well-known fixture at Daytona race events who drove car #1001, and a slightly faster Eastern Airlines pilot named Warren Koechling who drove car #1002 to a speed of 127.580 MPH. And of course Carl's participation in the Beach and Road Course race simply is an amazing compliment to the crash program Chrysler engaged in when it developed the 300: Carl didn't even have a driver when he arrived at Daytona as an unknown figure in Grand National racing!
     The biggest deficiency with the new 300 was identified immediately by 1952 Grand National Champion Flock when he saw the car for the first time: He told Carl he wouldn't be able to win the race because of the Powerflite transmission. Undaunted by this, Carl said he would "convince" Chrysler to have a 3 speed stick in the Chrysler parts books within 6 weeks to make it a legal application for the 300 per 1955 NASCAR rules. True to his word, Carl legally equipped Tim's 300 (NASCAR #300) with the manual transmission in less than 2 months---in time for Tim's win at the April 17 race at Montgomery, Alabama. Tim drove car #300 to first or second place finishes at Langhorne, PA on April 24, Charlotte, NC on May 1 and Hickory, NC on May 7. Then in a stroke of geographical magic, the next day on May 8, Tim drove car #301 to victory at Phoenix, AZ. Walla…Kiekhaefer now had two race 300's setting the stage for multiple car entries for one team. On May 15, Tim and his brother Fonty, a well-known race car driver newly hired by Carl, drove #300 and #301 respectively at Martinsville, VA, with Tim winning. On May 22, Tim and Fonty finished 1st and 2nd at Richmond, VA, with Fonty scraping up the side of his new 300 in this race. Team dominance was starting to emerge, thus validating Carl's multiple entry strategy.

      At about this same time, racing was starting to roll on the AAA circuit, which was run mainly in the Midwest with smaller fields of 10-15 cars. On May 7, Frank Mundy drove Kiekhaefer Chrysler 300 #30 to a win at Knoxville. He drove the car to seven more wins during the season of 13 races, which ended on September 18. Carl periodically employed two other AAA drivers: Norm Nelson's first 1955 race was at Kansas City on June 12 in a 1954 Chrysler and Tony Bettenhausen's first race was at Knoxville on July 2 in a 300. In an usually large race of at least 35 competitors at Milwaukee on July 17, Nelson drove 300 #55 to a win, Mundy drove 300 #30 to 28th place, and Bettenhausen drove 300 #99 into the wall and crashed during training. To say the least, Carl had the field well covered when races were held in his home state of Wisconsin!

      Just two days prior to the July 17 AAA race at Milwaukee, a NASCAR Grand National race was held at Morristown, NJ on July 15; Tim and Fonty drove their 300's #300 and #301 to 1st and 26th places respectively. Additionally, there is speculation that Chrysler 300 cars #302 driven by Carl Krueger to 15th place, and #303 driven by Buck Baker to 23rd place were at least sponsored by Kiekhaefer, if not actually owned by him. Chrysler 300 #303 was driven previously in the season by its owner of record, Henry Ford. Perhaps Carl enjoyed the idea that a Chrysler 300 would be driven or

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