By Vincent Delforge, special to KickinTheTires.net
The 100th race in ARCA Menards West Series history, then called NASCAR Pacific Coast Late Model, was held in San Joaquim Valley near Hanford, CA at Marchbanks Speedway on June 12, 1960. An all-new 1.4-mile oval paved. It is named after its creator, farmer B.L. Marchbanks, and was formerly half a mile in dirt until the late 1950s. He was later a source of inspiration for the creation of Pocono Raceway. Its original triangular layout having participated in its legend in open-wheel USAC races.
This fifth race of the championship, named California 250 because it is 250 miles long, was combined with the NASCAR Grand National, current NASCAR Cup Series, of which it was the 20th race of the season.
If the first race in history was marked by difficult conditions because of the dust raised by the cars, this one will be just as much because of the heat with 104 degree temperatures. A race that was going to put a strain on the physical endurance of the drivers but also of the cars!
The pole was won by Frank Secrist on his Ford, the only one of his career, in 93.04 mph. He will take a pack of 33 cars to the green flag wave in front of 7,000 spectators.
However, he will not take advantage of this advantageous position for long since he will lose the command of the race on the ninth lap in favor of Scotty Cain on his T-Bird. But he himself will not be able to resist for very long against Mel Larson on his Pontiac who will take the first position from him on the 29th lap.
The high heat will kill many cars. Overheating is increasing and retirements follow one another at a frantic pace! As proof, Larson will also be overtaken for the first position by Lloyd Dane on the 41st lap… And none of the first four leaders will finish the race! Dane having to dismount on lap 129 while leading the race following a broken tie rod. Larson will lose many laps to his box to try to solve the problems of overheating of his engine. He will return to the race to finally retire on the 161st lap out of the 179 of the race but will still be ranked in ninth position. Thank you to the many abandonments!
When Dane retired on lap 129, he handed over the lead to Marvin Porter in his No. 98 ’59 Ford who held that position until the checkered flag fell. Joe Weatherly on his brand new ’60 Ford entered by Vel Miletich with the official support of the manufacturer finishing at 46 seconds, almost a lap behind the winner and his semi-private Ford. Weatherly went to contest the result with the officials, arguing that a pit road official wrongfully held him up a lap while he was exiting the pit area. But NASCAR will confirm Porter’s victory.
It is the second victory of the season for Marvin Porter which confirms his status as leader of the championship. A position he will keep until the end of the season. Winning his only championship. He completed the 179 laps at an average of 88.032 mph. The top-five is completed by John Rostek, Fritz Wilson and Don Noel. Only 16 of the 33 starters will finish the race. Sometimes with more than 30, 40 or even 50 laps behind.
But despite the difficulty of the race due to the high temperatures, Rex White, eighth at the finish, who will be crowned champion at the end of the season in the Grand National, loved this track declaring: “This is an outstanding track, and I’ll let everyone know back East when I return home”.
-Marchbanks Speedway race program June 1960
-NASCAR Newsletter, June 15, 1960
-Charlotte Motor Speedway race program, June 1960
-NASCAR Record Book 1961 racing season
-Forty Years of Stock Car Racing “TheSuperspeedway bomm 1959-1964” by Greg Fielden Fifth printing, November 1993
-Stock Car Racing Encyclopedia by Peter Golenbock and Greg Fielden, 1997
Featured Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of NASCAR via Vincent Delforge’s archives.