Each decade in NASCAR has produced some unforgettable and talented drivers. Unfortunately, not all won a championship in NASCAR’s top level of competition. Several drivers from the 1950’s won many races, but did not capture NASCAR’s most treasured prize. In the 1950’s, many drivers did not compete in all the races, which may have prevented a legitimate championship run. These drivers will be recognized on this list.
Not that the 1950’s also include the 1949 season, as it was the introductory season of NASCAR Grand National racing (Strictly Stock in 1949).
Fireball Roberts (Edward Glenn)
Roberts earned the nickname Fireball as a baseball pitcher in high school, not as a race driver. Along with having one of the sport’s most catchy nicknames, Roberts was a tremendous talent behind the wheel throughout his career, one that ended too soon. He won 21 races in 137 starts over the course of the 1950’s. He finished second in the standings in 1950, despite only competing in only nine of the 19 events. It was also his first in the NASCAR Grand National Series. Perhaps his best season was in 1957 when he scored eight victories. Roberts tragically passed away in 1964 due to burns sustained in a fiery crash at Charlotte.
Fonty Flock (Truman Fontello)
Flock’s brother Tim won two NASCAR Grand National Series titles in the 1950’s. Unfortunately, Fonty was unable to duplicate his brother’s championship success. Despite the lack of titles, Flock won 19 races in 153 starts throughout the decade. His best season was in 1951, when he won eight races, 13 poles, and finished second in the final standings. He retired at the age of 37 in 1957 after a crash that put him and Paul Goldsmith in the hospital, and killed Bobby Myers.
Turner was perhaps the first ‘bad boy’ of NASCAR. He earned a reputation as a party animal in the 1950’s. However, it did not slow him while he was on the track. Turner never competed in a full schedule in the 1950’s, but he still earned 16 victories in 128 starts. His highest ranking in the championship standings was fifth in 1950 when he competed in 16 of the 19 races. Turner was the first NASCAR driver to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1956. The magazine dubbed Turner as the “Babe Ruth of Stock Car Racing”, which was the ultimate compliment. Bill France banned Turner from NASCAR in 1961, as he refused to disband the driver’s union. He returned to NASCAR in 1965.
Honorable mentions include Junior Johnson; Speedy Thompson; Jack Smith, Dick Rathmann