This is some pictures of the NASCAR convertible series.  Few folks know NASCAR even had a convertible series.  It was ran just like the CUP series, only the cars had no roofs.  The series ran from 1956-1959.  Bob Welborn won the Championship from 1956-1958, with Joe Lee Johnson winning it in 1959.

All Photos copyright and are property of their respective owners


Bob Welborn's Chevy.  He claimed 19 wins in the convertible series





Buck Baker in his Chevy.  Buck ran 20 races in this series, and posted five top 5 finishes.  He had a best finish of 4th on four occasions.



Curtis Turner finished second in points in the first year of the convertible series.  He won the first three races ever ran, and claimed 38 wins in his 79 starts.



Fireball Roberts race 16 events and claimed four wins.  He had 12 top 10's and four poles.  His wins came at Darlington (2), Atlanta, and Martinsville



Tim Flock only ran in four events, but picked up a win at Daytona. 



Shorty Rollins ran a total of nine events.  He did manage to get a win at Daytona and have four top 10 finishes.




Glen Wood in his 1958 Ford.  Glen ran in 89 convertible races (he only ran 62 CUP races).  He got five wins, four of them in 1957.  Glen had 62 top 10 finishes in his 89 starts; and posted 43 top fives.  He finished third in points in 1957, and fourth in 1958




Rare picture here.  Herb Thomas only ran in ONE convertible series event.  It was at Daytona's Beach Course.  Thomas started fourth, and finished third.




Billy Myers was the brother of Bobby Myers.  This is Billy wheeling his 1957 Mercury.  Billy did win two races; both driving for Petty Enterprises.  Myers ran 14 races, finishing in the top five on nine occasions.  In April 1958, while racing at Bowman Gray stadium he suffered a heart attack and died.  Billy brother Bobby Myers dies in a NASCAR event in 1957 (Southern 500).  Bobby was the father of Chocolate Myers on Dale Earnhardt's "Flying Aces" pit Crew.  The "Myers Brother Award" given out annually at the season ending NASCAR banquet is named in honor of Bill and Bobby Myers.



Lee Petty was as good at wheeling the ragtops, and he was the hard tops.  He ran in 28 races, winning at Charlotte, and Green-Ville Pickens Speedway.  A full 50% of his start (14) he finish in the top 5, while he finished in the top 10 on 21 occasions.




Marvin Panch ran in 24 convertible races.  In only his fifth start Panch led 194 of 200 laps to claim his only series win. (at Montgomery).  He posted eight top 5 finishes, and 13 top 10's






JoeLee Johnson crawls from his car after his win at Nashville in 1959.  Sponsored by Honest Charlie's he led the final 83 laps to win by a margin of three laps.





I wasn't convinced this was Cale Yarborough knowing that NASCAR only ran the Convertible series from 1956-1959.  This is a 1962 Ford.  I was able to find out that Darlington loved the convertible format, and continued to race it at the speedway all the way through 1962.  Interesting the stuff you find out...





Nelson Stacy won the 1962 Rebel 300 the final convertible.  Stacy dueled with Marvin Panch the final 70 lap, on the last lap Stacy get by Panch to get the win by two car lengths. 




Bill Lutz ran only two years in the convertible series, and only four races in this #88 Petty Enterprises Oldsmobile, having a best finish of 4th at Manassas VA.  For his career he had 36 starts with a best finish of third (twice).  He also posted six top 10 finishes.






Richard Petty.  Notice also on the drivers door his nickname of Squirrel)







Here are the convertibles running at Daytona.




Back in the day the hard tops and the convertibles used to race together.  One qualifying race was all hard tops, and the other was all convertibles.  Then the hardtops all started in one row and the rag tops in the other.



Bowman Gray Stadium is located in Winston-Salem NC.  They hosted Five convertible races from 1956-1959, and 29 CUP races from 1958-1971




Beach Race  - Cars coming off the beach about to head down A1A highway.  The 999 is Wilbur Rakestraw leading Glen Wood




Here Lee Petty, and Joe Weatherly battle in the tight sand turns of the Daytona Beach and Road course.  They battled the whole race like this.  On the final lap Petty run into Weatherly after hitting a rut and spun him out.  Petty got by for second, while Weatherly finished third.  This picture and the one above are from the same race



This pic and the two above are from the LAST race held on the beach.  Here you can see the #95 Ford of Fireball Roberts leading the pack.  This was early in the race, because by lap 11 he was out with over heating problems.  Curtis Turner would wheel his Holman-Moody Ford to the win.




This was from the very first NASCAR convertible race.  It was at Daytona on the beach.  This is Joe Weatherly the pole winner for the race.  Joe led the first five laps, but Curtis Turner would take the lead and go on to win.  Weatherly fell out with a broken water pump at the 1/2 mark.




Here is Roberts piloting his 1957 Ford through the corner.  He would finish 8th.




The green hankie waves as Bob Welborn and Lee Petty lead the field.  Check out the lines painted to show where pit road is.  The ambulance is parked in pit lane stalls, but there's no wall to keep cars from sliding into that area.

Welborns Convertible - notice how they had figured out 'aero' already.  They have put a canvas cover over the passenger and rear seats to keep wind turbulence out.



Gwyn Staley in his 1956 Chevy.  Staley ran 47 convertible races, and claimed two wins in his #34.  One in 1956, and one in 1957



Here is Turners 1956 Ford in the museum at Darlington Speedway.



Here is Joe Weatherly in his Southeastern Dealers Ford at Daytona.  Joe ran 96 races, and got 12 checkered flags.  He won at least one race in the division every year the series existed.  Of the four years he finished 2nd, 3th, and 4th in points. 






Paul Goldsmith also ran a hand full of races with just seven starts.  He did get a win at North Wilkesboro, and had five top 5 finishes



Shorty Rollins is shown herein the #98 Ford, trying to outrun competitor Marvin Panch.  Panch started 24 races and picked up a win at Montgomery.  He posted 13 top 10's along with eight top 5's.




Interesting enough Glen drove the #22 all of the 1956 season, before switching to the #21 in 1957.  at Charlotte of that year he wheeled his Ford by Gwyn Staley on the last lap to get the win.  The only lap he lead.



Rex White ran five convertible races.  He won in 1959 at Marlboro Motor speedway in MD.  White led the first 119 laps in the 250 lap race, but passed Jim Reed with two laps to go to get the win.


This is Banjo Matthews #93 T-Bird Power Products Ford.  Banjo wasn't known as much of a driver, but as a car owner he built some of the best race cars ever built;  fielding cars for Speedy Thompson, AJ Foyt, Fireball Roberts, Junior Johnson, and many other elite NASCAR drivers.  In the 1970-1980's (along with Holman-Moody), Matthews constructed 72% of the winning cars in the CUP series




Richard Petty's career started in 1958, so he also got to race the last two year of the ragtop series.  Richard ran in 15 races, and as the final season wound down Petty got his only convertible win.  It came at Columbia Speedway in SC.  Richard posted eight top 5's and ten top 10's.  Fourteen of Petty's convertible starts all came behind the wheel of an Oldsmobile.  His lone win came driving a Plymouth.  This was the lone win Petty had until he claimed his first CUP win at Charlotte in 1960.  So technically Petty has 201 wins in NASCAR's top division(s)




Dick Joslin drove 34 convertible races, all in the #71 driving for Bill Webb.  He came close to getting a win, finishing second at Flat Rock, and Lancaster.  He also posted eleven top 10 finishes.



Cotton Owens is shown here with his car at Darlington.  This is another rare photo, as Owens too only made one start in the convertible series.  It was in the 1958 Rebel 300.  Owens had a rough day, blowing a motor after 93 laps.




Check out the grandstands here at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.  This is pre-era of when the well known Ferris wheel was built.





Bob Pronger had 14 starts behind the wheel of his rag top Buick.  He made a couple starts driving a Ford, like in this picture from Daytona's Beach Course.  He had two career top fives.




Larry Frank had an extensive convertible NASCAR career.  He ran 103 races in the hard top series, but 105 in the rag tops.  In fact, NASCAR only had 117 total convertible events; so Frank only missed 12 total.  He never won a convertible race, but finished second five times.  He posted 25 top 5 finishes, and 64 top 10's.




Jimmy Massey here at Kansas Fairgrounds Speedway in his Chevy.  Massey ran 57 events in this series and grabbed three wins. (Columbia, Charlotte, Martinsville).  He posted 20 top 5's and 37 top 10's. 




Darlington hosting the convertible division.



Civic stadium in Buffalo NY hosted a lone NASCAR convertible race.  It was 7/7/1956 and won by Joe Weatherly by over a lap.




Theinfo listed said this was at Fairgrounds speedway, but it looks a lot like the pic on the left from Bowman Gray.  Great field of cars.



You can see as the cars come off the beach and onto the two mile asphalt stretch





Here is another picture of Wilbur Rakestraw.  He ran 11 races in the convertible series piloting his Ford.  He finished in the top five three times, and finished 12th in the Daytona race (above left)




Winston-Salem is the site listed for this race, but the only track I found listed in Winston-Salem, and this pic doesn't look like the ones above.  about all I can say for sure is that is Bob Welborn hot on the heals of Lee Petty.




This is the 1957 Ford race team owned by Pete DePaolo.  The two cars on the left are those of Marvin Panch, and Curtis Turner.  The other two cars (blue cars), are the rides for Joe Weatherly and Fireball Roberts.  Tim Flock would claim the win over Weatherly.



Here is a pic of the Ford Team fron the other side.  You can see the blue cars of Roberts and Weatherly