Sign for race

Enoch Staley (seated), president of the North Wilkesboro Speedway, signs the sanctioning agreement with the Wilkes County Jaycees and NASCAR for a $10,000 Baby Grand National race to be run at his track on Oct. 12, 1975. Also in the photo for the signing were, left-to-right, NASCAR Sanction Coordinator Bob Smith, Wilkes Jaycee member Ned Smith, Pete Keller of NASCAR and Wilkes Jaycee member Keith Miller.

This is the fifth article in a weekly series highlighting big local sports’ anniversaries, given the current down time for local sports. Readers are encouraged to share any of their memories from local sports this time of year — namely May, June and July — by emailing Photos would be appreciated too but are not a must.

For consideration to be included, please include what month (and day if known) and year the event took place. We’re particularly looking for events that took place on anniversary-type years from 2020 — 10, 20, 25, 50 or 75 years ago — but any event will be considered if it fits the other scope of criteria.

With the continuation of the series on West Wilkes’ baseball state championship run, we will only be running one historical date for the next couple of weeks. This week, we take a look back at some of the bigger anniversaries from Wilkes County sports in the summer months of 1975 … 45 years ago at this time:

Super Baby Grand Race is scheduled

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Since NASCAR’s inception in 1949, North Wilkesboro Speedway hosted 93 Winston Cup Series races. In addition to those races, the track also hosted its share of smaller-scale races, including the Jaycee 320 race. Jerry Carrigan initially won the race on Oct. 12 but was later disqualified for using “pop-up pistons,” which are deemed illegal in Baby Grand racing. Using such equipment meant disqualification under NASCAR rules. A week later, NASCAR declared Walter Johnson the winner after originally finishing runner-up. The following article is from the June 26, 1975 edition of the Wilkes Journal-Patriot. It has been edited.

Proving that the little cars can run for the big money, the Wilkes County Jaycees have signed with NASCAR and North Wilkesboro Speedway to sponsor a $10,000 race for the NASCAR Baby Grand cars at North Wilkesboro Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 12.

The race, which will be 320 laps (200 miles) around the paved five-eighths mile oval, will be named the “Jaycee 320” and will carry a $3,000 purse for the winning car and driver.

In making the announcement, Jaycee spokesman Keith Miller commented that the event would the longest and richest event in the history of the Baby Grand organization.

“We (the Jaycees) have confidence that this can be a successful event. The members voted overwhelmingly to have it and all of us will support the effort in every possible way,” said Miller. “Frankly, we may have to float a loan to have the money, but we’re sure we can make it a financial success. The Greensboro Jaycees have the Greater Greensboro Open golf tournament to raise money each year. We hope to make this our big fundraiser. It will be an annual event if everything goes as planned this year.”

Miller, who also stated that a full weekend of activities has been planned (practice on Oct. 10 and practice and qualifying on Oct. 11) to precede the 2 p.m. start, and Ned Smith traveled to Daytona with North Wilkesboro Speedway President Enoch Staley on June 6 for the formal signing ceremonies with NASCAR Sanctioning Coordinator Bob Smith and Pete Keller, the NASCAR official who has the guiding hand in Baby Grand Activities at this time.

Baby Grand President Charlie Triplett was understandably excited about the race, but also expressed some concern about the added length and the ability of the compact cars to complete the added distance.

“The guys are going to have to do a whole lot of something to get the cars to last that long. That’s a lot longer than we’ve ever tried to run,” said Triplett. “We’ll have races at Richmond and Rockingham, which will be fairly long, but this will be the first time we’ve ever tried to go 200 miles. The 320-lap distance will make it touch and go.”

Triplett also stated that there is a definite possibility that all drivers in the Jaycee race will have to have competed in at least five previous Baby Grand races this year.

“Pete Keller said that they are discussing this idea. This would keep out all of the ‘ringers’ who might want to come in and make a quick buck,” said Triplett. “The five-race rule is used for several of the large sportsman national championship races and it works quite well.”

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