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DAYTONA'S SPEED CARNIVAL
Kenneth Rudeen
February 25, 1957
Chevrolet and Pontiac were big winners when the Detroit task force fought the battle of the beach by the city's motel row
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February 25, 1957

Daytona's Speed Carnival

Chevrolet and Pontiac were big winners when the Detroit task force fought the battle of the beach by the city's motel row

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SPEEDS ON THE BEACH: FINAL FIGURES

STOCK PASSENGER CARS (FLYING MILE)

CLASS FOUR (213 TO 259 CU. IN.)

CAR

AVG. MPH

1. Smokey Yunick, Daytona Beach, Fla.

Chevrolet

102.157

2. Dick Joslin, Orlando, Fla.

Chevrolet

95.707

3. James Quinn, Oneonta, Ala.

Chevrolet

95.112

4. Hal Martinson, Long Beach, Calif.

Ford

94.874

5. Dagmar Moore, Wyandotte, Mich.

Chevrolet

94.525

CLASS FIVE (259-305 CU. IN.)

1. Paul Goldsmith, St. Clair Shores, Mich.

Chevrolet

131.076

2. Jesse Piatt, New Lebanon, Ohio

Chevrolet

130.199

3. Speedy Thompson, Charlotte, N.C.

Chevrolet

129.310

4. Ray Fulmer Jr., Saluda, S.C.

Chevrolet

129.055

5. Tom Helsinger Jr., Excello, Ohio

Chevrolet

127.660

CLASS SIX (305 TO 350 CU. IN.)

1. Joe Littlejohn, Spartanburg, S.C.

Pontiac

131.747

2. Jim Stonebraker, Fairview Park, Ohio

Pontiac

131.531

3. Dr. L. D. Morris, Mt. Carmel, Ill.

Pontiac

128.434

4. Ronnie Householder, Detroit

Plymouth

126.205

5. Bud Wilcox, Lakewood, N.Y.

Ford

125.239

CLASS SEVEN (OVER 350 CU. IN.)

1. Red Byron, West Palm Beach, Fla.

Chrys. 300-C

134.128

2. Frank Ramey, Abbeville, S.C.

Buick

130.766

3. Fran Hernandez, Long Beach, Calif.

Ford

130.058

4. Edward Lyons, Grayville, Ill.

Dodge D-501

129.753

5. Jimmy White, Abbeville, S.C.

Buick

129.683

BIG THREE (NO OPTIONAL SPEED EQUIPMENT)

1. Al Simonsen, Cambridge, Wis.

Chevrolet

118.460

2. Lonnie Hilliard, Palatka, Fla.

Chevrolet

115.849

3. Ned Decker, Sherwood, Ohio

Chevrolet

113.852

4. Joseph Blais, Long Beach, Calif.

Ford

111.836

5. Billy Ewindell, Ludowici, Ga.

Chevrolet

111.768

STOCK PASSENGER CARS (STANDING MILE ACCELERATION)

CLASS THREE (167-213 CU. IN.)

1. Robert Reed, Orlando, Fla.

Rambler

64.795

CLASS FOUR

1. Robert Reed, Orlando, Fla.

Rambler

71.785

2. Smokey Yunick, Daytona Beach, Fla.

Chevrolet

69.592

3. Edsel Massey, Birmingham, Ala.

Chevrolet

69.311

4. Bobby Morgan, Chillicothe, Ohio

Chevrolet

68.755

5. Beulah Cowan, Farmington, Mich.

Chevrolet

68.676

CLASS FIVE

1. T. Winston Parker, Williamsburg, Va.

Chevrolet

85.006

2. Tom Helsinger Sr., Excello, Ohio

Chevrolet

84.586

3. Paul Goldsmith, St. Clair Shores, Mich.

Chevrolet

84.151

4. Erwin Bishop, Sherman, N.Y.

Chevrolet

84.112

5. Speedy Thompson, Charlotte, N.C.

Chevrolet

83.955

CLASS SIX

1. Jim Stonebraker, Fairview Park, Ohio

Pontiac

85.308

2. Joe Littlejohn, Spartanburg, S.C.

Pontiac

84.388

3. Ronnie Householder, Detroit

Plymouth

83.897

4. Robert Stanclift, Long Beach, Calif.

Ford

82.854

5. Al Senson, Chicago

Plymouth

82.192

CLASS SEVEN

1. Brewster Shaw, Daytona Beach, Fla.

Chrys. 300-C

86.873

2. Art Chrisman, Compton, Calif.

Mercury

85.511

3. Fran Hernandez, Long Beach, Calif.

Ford

85.066

4. Elton Lile, Hopkinsville, Ky.

Dodge D-501

84.408

5. Red Byron, West Palm Beach, Fla.

Chrys. 300-C

83.897

EXPERIMENTAL CARS (TWO-WAY FLYING MILE AVERAGE)

1. Wally Parks, Los Angeles

Plymouth

159.893

2. Art Chrisman, Compton, Calif.

Mercury

154.176

3. Fran Hernandez, Long Beach, Calif.

Ford

147.059

4. Vern Houle, South Gate, Calif.

Mercury

146.759

5. Karol Miller, Houston

Ford

140.078

EXPERIMENTAL CARS (STANDING MILE ACCELERATION)

1. Danny Eames, Long Beach, Calif.

Thunderbird

98.065

2. Art Chrisman, Compton, Calif.

Mercury

93.482

3. Chuck Daigh, Long Beach, Calif.

Thunderbird

93.312

4. Harold Mauck, Long Beach, Calif.

Ford Ranch.

91.162

4. Ray Stilwell, Slate Hill, N.Y.

'32 Ford

91.162

PRESTIGE CLASS (TWO-WAY FLYING MILE AVERAGE)

1. Ernie Walls, Indianapolis

Continental

108.860

For a week the sands of Daytona Beach, Fla. were gullied and pockmarked. Then, as time began to run out a fresh northeast wind spanked the flood tide higher to pound the beach into a smooth speedway.

From the motel row along Daytona's Atlantic Avenue came the Detroit task force that had been sweating out the tensions of inactivity, and there began a week of fierce and resourceful automotive competition.

For the spectators it was indeed a spectacle: magnificently prepared passenger cars speeding against the backdrop of the green Atlantic, stock racing cars hurrying along the sands and sliding into the treacherous curves of Daytona's beach and road course. But to the giants of Detroit who moved onto the beach with unprecedented strength and determination, Daytona was a battleground in the climactic days of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc.

They were days of triumph for Chevrolet and Pontiac, of shocked surprise and eventual success for Chrysler, and of reward for Rambler, in the Speed Weeks' core events—the top-speed and acceleration trials for passenger cars.

Rivalries aside, the beach events reinforced these conclusions: that American cars with or without optional speed equipment are extremely fast, with phenomenal acceleration qualities because of their high torque at medium engine speeds; and that Detroit is becoming ever more involved in motor sports—a fact that friends of auto racing enthusiastically appreciate.

Ironically, the automobile industry is uncertain how to capitalize on the performances at Daytona. With congressional investigators now exploring the subject of automotive safety, the industry is moving very cautiously. Early last week the word was that General Motors would veer away from the theme of speed in its advertising after its current Chevrolet schedule ended, but after the Pontiac successes at Daytona the dictum was relaxed.

It is unwise, of course, to read too much into the beach competition. Top-speed trials are a traditional and exciting part of motor sport, but the speeds reached at Daytona would be illegal on the highways. Acceleration tests are more useful (better pickup for greater passing safety is the usual example), yet neither kind of trial provides a well-rounded judgment of a car for the noncompetitive driver.

Also, most of the beach victories are won by meticulously tuned cars equipped with high-performance extras—cars that the average driver does not shop for (although more and more of these machines are going to keen drivers).

Perhaps the most meaningful test this year for the average driver, then, was the Flying Mile run for Big Three cars fitted with a single carburetor and no special speed equipment. Chevrolet, which received plaudits for the effectiveness of its V-8 engine, swept the first three places. A Ford was fourth, and the single Plymouth entry eighth. The winning Chevvy averaged an eye-opening 118.460 mph, and even the slowest among 12 entries did 107.930, which is not dawdling.

It was not as a testing ground for the less powerful cars, however, but as a vigorously contested sporting event for the fastest that the Speed Weeks had the most impact.

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