"Strictly Stock"
The Champions of 1955 & 1956

by Dan Elliott

owned by a person named Henry Ford, perhaps he even recruited Mr. Ford, who seems after 1955 never again to be involved in NASCAR Grand National racing. One thing is certain between these two nearly simultaneous AAA and NASCAR race dates in July: There were a minimum of five Kiekhaefer 300's being raced, and perhaps there were as many as seven different and distinct track-ready 300's. Kiekhaefer team members recently interviewed indicate that back-up cars perhaps were available, too.
      Tim and Fonty won or placed in the top five in many races between May and the September 5th race at Darlington. Of interest is the July 30 race at Syracuse, NY, which Tim won in 300 #300, and the July 31 race at San Mateo (Bay Meadows), CA, which Tim won in 300 #300. Many people thought car #300, which was a brand new 300 at Syracuse according to Speed Age, was flown overnight to California from New York, but this was not the case. Tim's old car #300 had been taken to California in advance and made to look like Tim's new ride #300. A Kiekhaefer team member explained in 2004: "We made it appear as though the New York car had been flown to California. There was a big scrape along the side of the Syracuse car after that race. To duplicate this appearance on the California car, we found a guard rail along a highway that was just the right height and dented the car to look just like the New York car." In any case, it was the first time in NASCAR history that a first place finish on one coast and a first place finish on the other coast the next day were recorded for the same team.

      As the season continued, it appeared that Tim would have a good chance at the Grand National championship, even though he had missed the first three races of the season. The Labor Day race at Darlington had since 1950 at least tied Daytona Speed Weeks as the biggest stock car race event of the season, if not surpassed it. Carl entered two 300's, #16 and #36, which did great until developing tire problems because of weight, compared to lighter cars like Chevy and Ford. Tim finished third while Fonty crashed car #36. Herb Thomas, who had been injured early in the 1955 season, won the race in a Smokey Yunick prepared 1955 Chevrolet. It may have been at this point perhaps that Carl realized it would be beneficial to have a lighter car model in his stable. This also was the race that moved Tim into first place in the point's race for Grand National Champion.

      Just after Darlington on September 18 on the AAA circuit, Frank Mundy captured the crown in 300 car #30. To show his appreciation, Carl gave Mundy a $5,000 check and a brand new Chrysler, probably a New Yorker. During August, AAA had declared 1955 to be its last season of sanctioning racing activities, much to the dismay of the racing public, so Mundy, Kiekhaefer and Chrysler 300 were its last champions. Congress was considering regulating or banning racing as being unsafe, and AAA wanted out.
      On the same day of September 18 on the NASCAR Grand National circuit, Tim won in his 300 #300 and Fonty placed 3rd in a replacement 300 #301 in a race at the Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania. Perhaps the #55 Norm Nelson car from AAA was used to replace the car Fonty wrecked at Darlington, or Fonty's car was fixed or a spare car was used. For example, Tim's old #300 car from the Bay Meadows, CA race could have been used. By the time of the next big race at LeHi, Arkansas just outside Memphis, Carl would have four 300's entered in the Grand National circuit.
      Just prior to the LeHi race, Fonty and Tim raced to 1st and 3rd place finishes at Raleigh. Perhaps as interesting to Carl at this September 30th race were the 7th and 17th place finishers: Buck Baker and Speedy Thompson, both of whom were driving

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