"Strictly Stock"
The Champions of 1955 & 1956

by Dan Elliott

warehouse and engine shop in Wisconsin and a well-stocked garage in Charlotte. He admits he purchased one Ford last season just to strip its parts for another Ford he hoped to race. His personal plane shuttles racing parts all over the land."
      About 1 months after Daytona, Tim Flock won his final race with the Kiekhaefer team at North Wilkesboro, NC. Buck and Speedy also drove in the race, finishing 11th and 18th. After the race, Tim quit the team because he thought Carl was unduly dictatorial and the big team approach created friction and favoritism. By the next race two weeks later on April 22 at Langhorne, Herb Thomas, Grand National Champion of '51 and '53, was hired to replace Tim. Ironically, it was Herb who had tried to convince Tim to stay with Kiekhaefer. At the Langhorne race, Buck, Herb and Tim finished 1,2,3, with Tim driving a Smokey Yunick 1956 Chevrolet. Buck, Herb, Speedy and Fonty drove 300B's. This would be Fonty's last race for the Kiekhaefer team. After the team's success at Langhorne, Carl rewarded three of the drivers, undoubtedly Buck, Herb and Speedy with brand new Chrysler product cars of their choosing. Undoubtedly this was an "in your face" jesture toward Tim Flock as well as a reward for the other three.
      With the exception of the race that Tim won at North Wilkesboro, all of the races beginning with Atlanta on March 25th until 16 races later on June 3rd at Merced, CA were won by Kiekhaefer drivers Baker, Thompson and Thomas; this is a NASCAR record for consecutive wins that has not yet been broken. Were it not for the poor finishes at LeHi on June 10, the record could have been 19 because Speedy won the two races following LeHi at Charlotte on June 15 and Rochester on June 22.

      Unbelievably, Kiekhaefer team successes were beginning to wear thin with spectators who seemed to be pulling for small independent racers; the "small guy" was rapidly becoming less than viable in the big money Kiekhaefer and Detroit factory environment that controlled the 1956 season. Carl partially had anticipated this by writing an article entitled "How I Prepare Championship Cars" for the April, 1956 issue of Speed Age. The magazine also ran a story in January, 1956 on the Chrysler 300 entitled "The Truth About the Chrysler 300", seemingly in an attempt to defuse rumors that the 300 was simply a factory ruse to enter a full-blooded race car in what was supposed to be a "Strictly Stock" series of racing. Additionally, NASCAR had tightened its 1956 rules pertaining to new models as explained above, and incorporated rules specifying that optional performance equipment must be made available to the general public as an option; options available only to police departments and racers didn't qualify. To show its resolve in enforcing the rules, NASCAR disqualified the first and second place winners at the December 1955 West Palm Beach race. Never the less, Kiekhaefer's string of 16 wins in a row didn't sit right with increasingly skeptical fans.

      Fan discontent really boiled to the surface on July 4th at Raleigh, NC. Fireball Roberts won the race in a factory DePaolo Ford with Thompson and Mundy placing second and third in Kiekhaefer D-500-1's, and Baker finishing 11th in a Kiekhaefer 300B. On the front cover of the NASCAR race program that day was a very large photograph of Kiekhaefer 300B #300-B racing at one of the 16 wins-in-a-row. Fans were actually "booing" Kiekhaefer team drivers before the race started. In the book NASCAR Confidential, Frank Mundy stated that Buck Baker, known for his proclivity to start fist fights, wanted to get into the stands and mix it up: "We were at Raleigh, and some of them were against Buck and Me. We were standing in front of the grandstand before the race on the track down near the cars, and some of them were hollering this and that, and I had to hold Buck back. He wanted to go up and knock the hell out of a couple of them. Buck would have been in the grandstand fighting." After the race, Carl vociferously protested the Fireball Roberts win, as was reported in the book Iron Fist:

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