I think it was spring 1964 I found out that a race track was being built up on U.S # 1 Highway where NC Highway 177 met at Newton’s Point.
On a Sunday afternoon I took a ride to see what was going on, it was this time that I met Mr. Harold Brasington who was doing the work. I started talking to him and we became friends, and I would go out two or three times a month and talk with him. Sometime in July 1965 he told me if I wanted tickets to the race to go into the stands and pick out the seats I wanted, so I did and picked out Section P, Row 12, Seats 1 and 2,then went back and told him what I wanted. He told me to be out at the track the next week and he would have the tickets. The next week as I was getting ready to leave the track, Mr. Brasington said come over to his truck and he gave me the tickets and said, “these are free you might never get them free again.” I still have the tickets to this day.
Well on Sunday October 31, 1965 (Halloween) I got to the track about 11:00am, and I made my way into the stands and to my seats. I had my brother-in-law who was about 12 years old with me, and it was the first race he had ever seen.
At 12:30 PM the First American 500 started. Richard Petty was on the pole, Junior (Jr.) Johnson on the outside, Richard had trouble at the start and Jr. Johnson led the first 45 laps, then Curtis Turner led a lap, followed by Marvin Panch for two laps, then Jr. Johnson for 33 more laps. The lead ultimately changed again between Bobby Isaac, Jim Paschel, Cale Yarborough, but the last 27 laps belonged to Curtis Turner, who held on for the win.
Turner was driving a 1965 #41 Ford for The Woods brothers, and he finished 11 seconds in front of 2nd place Cale Yarborough. Third place belonged to Marvin Panch, fourth to G.C. Spencer, delivering a sizable win for Ford, who manufactured the cars for all top four finishers.
The Rock had some great racing over the years, and it is a shame that it had to give away to big money, and the date moved to other venues that are certainly no better than The Rock.
My only hope is that the group that is trying to buy it now will be able to do something for the Veterans.
I have some good memories of great racing at The Rock and hope to be able to leave it in some form for others to enjoy.
First AMERICAN 500 STATS
The 1st. Race,
Race time 4 hours, 54 minutes, 11 seconds. Curtis Turner.
Average speed 101.942 MPH
Pole Speed 116.29 MPH Richard Petty.
8 Cautions for 55 laps.
Margin of Victory 11 seconds.
Lead changes 16