Sunday 2nd October 1949
The seventh race of the inaugural NASCAR Strictly Stock season was held at Heidelberg Raceway, near Pittsburgh (US). Al Bonnell won the pole. In the first Strictly Stock event in Charlotte in June, Lee Petty entered a bulky Buick Roadmaster. The enormous automobile was fast on the straights, but it wobbled like a tank through the turns. Just past the halfway point, petty rolled the Buick a number of times. After dismounting the mangled mass of metal, the North Carolina speedster vowed never to drive a heavy vehicle in competition again. In the 100-mile event at Heidelberg Speedway, Petty driving his number 42 lightweight Plymouth, was five full laps ahead of his nearest competitor. “We figured the lighter car would get through the turns better,” said Petty. “It would also be easier on the suspension parts. We knew we could win one with the Plymouth.” The big triumph at Heidelberg was the largest winning margin of any NASCAR Strictly Stock race in 1949. Dick Linder’s Kaiser finished second, but was in no position to challenge the fleet Petty. Bill Rexford finished third, Sam Rice’s Chevrolet was fourth with relief driver Glenn Dunnanway at the helm. Fifth place went to Sara Christian, the first time a female driver has cracked the top five in a premier NASCAR event. She was 10 laps off the pace in her 1949 Ford. Al Bonnell, a driver of open wheel fame, qualified for the pole with a speed of 61.475 mph. However, Bonnell’s Olds was the first car out of the race, and we placed at the end of the 23 car field in the final rundown. Bonnell then relieved Don Rogalla and carried his Ford to 10th and the finish. Petty averaged 57.458 mph.