Young Richard Petty Gets NASCAR Win No. 1 on His Way to 200 in 1960

richard petty
NASCAR 75: #55 Richard Petty Gets No. 1 of 200RacingOne - Getty Images

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  • In his first full-time NASCAR season, and in the sixth race of the year, Richard Petty went to victory lane at the Southern States Fairgrounds.

  • The win, which came on a half-mile dirt track in Charlotte, came on February 28, 1960.

  • Petty would wind up finishing second in the overall Grand National (later known as NASCAR Cup) standings that season.

Richard Petty is known for his record 200 wins in NASCAR Grand National and Cup competition.

But did you know that he actually had 201 wins—well, kind of—until his father Lee threw him under the bus, so to speak?


As the late broadcaster Paul Harvey would say, here’s the rest of the story:

Young Richard, just three weeks shy of his 22nd birthday and in only his second part-time season of running in NASCAR’s Grand National Series, was initially declared the winner of the 150-lap event on the one-mile Lakewood Speedway dirt oval in Atlanta on June 14, 1959.

But father Lee Petty wasn’t having any of it. Forget about family relations or throwing his son a bone. A win was a win to Lee and he wanted Richard’s checkered flag. And, quite frankly, there was one other significant incentive for the elder Petty: the winner of the race earned $2,200, while runner-up paid $1,400.

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Lee marched to track and NASCAR officials after the race and insisted a scoring error had been made that put his son at the top of the heap, when it was Lee who felt he should have been declared the rightful winner.

After several hours, father proved to know best and the final finishing order was flip-flopped, with Lee earning the win—the 41st of his 54 career Grand National triumphs—while son Richard was pushed back one spot to runner-up.

Even so, that would still prove to be Richard’s highest race finish up to that point.

Fast forward to the next season, 1960, and Richard finally – and legitimately in the eyes of NASCAR – earned the first of what would be his 200 career Grand National and Winston Cup victories.

In his first full-time NASCAR season, and in the sixth race of the year, Richard went to victory lane at the Southern States Fairgrounds (also known as Charlotte Fairgrounds), a half-mile dirt track in Charlotte, on February 28, 1960.

In front of nearly 8,000 fans, Richard and his 1959 Plymouth held off Rex White—the only two drivers to complete the entire 200 laps—and took home both his first checkered flag and an $800 winner’s check.

1960 hillsboro nascar richard petty
Richard Petty (43) won three races in 1960, including this one at Occoneechee Speedway.RacingOne - Getty Images

In a sense, Richard would get the last laugh on his father in that race and avenge his win-turned-runner-up-finish nine months earlier, as Lee finished 20th in the 21-driver field, dropping out after 38 laps in the 200-lap event due to “spark plug” issues, according to the official race report.

Richard would go on to win two more races in the 1960 season, earning the first of 15 career wins at Martinsville Speedway, and also taking the checkers at Orange Speedway (a.k.a. Occoneechee Speedway) in Hillsboro, N.C.

He would also wind up finishing second in the overall Grand National standings that season. He’d also finish runner-up in the season standings in 1962 and 1963 before finally earning his first of a record-setting seven Grand National/Cup championships in 1964. He’d also win titles in 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1979.

Follow Autoweek correspondent Jerry Bonkowski on Twitter @JerryBonkowski