Here’s a priceless behind-the-scenes look at the early days of NASCAR in this original four-minute reel from the 1954 Southern 500 at Darlington. Enjoy.
Lloyd Moore (1912-2008) from Frewsburg, New York was a journeyman Grand National driver who collected 23 top-ten and 13 top-five finishes between 1949 and 1955, and at the time of his death he was NASCAR’s oldest living driver. This priceless movie clip, reportedly from Moore’s personal collection, provides a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse of the action at the 1954 Southern 500 at Darlington, when the race was NASCAR’s marquee event.
Here we get some wonderful close-up glimpses of Buck Baker’s ’54 Oldsmobile, pole sitter for this event, Lee Petty’s Chrysler New Yorker (he didn’t always race Plymouths) and the number 14 Olds driven by the ageless Hershell McGriff, to name a few. There’s even a Studebaker, the number 11 coupe piloted by George Parrish. Of course, the big star that day was Herb Thomas wheeling the gun-metal gray Hudson Hornet prepared by Smokey Yunick. Thomas and Yunick teamed up to win 12 of the 37 events they entered that year with the big Hudson 308 CID Twin-H six.
There are some great views of the old covered grandstand and of the track as well in the four-minute clip. Note that in these early years, there was no barrier between the 1.375-mile oval and the pit road along the front stretch. Truly, stock car racing was a different world in those days, and here’s a fascinating look at it. Enjoy.