Not much is known about this driver that barely missed racing infamy by finishing third in the first Daytona 500. Pictured below is one of the most well known racing photos in which Lee Petty #42 won the 1959 Daytona 500 & Johnny Beauchamp #73 finished second. It took 3 days to verify the winner, but Bill France's decision was law. The car on the outside is the #48 Chevy of Joe Weatherly, a lap down. What would've been the future of Charley had he won that 500?
(Thanks to Dave Westerman for the update)
This mystery began with a Legends of Nascar visitor who sent the following email:
Hello, my name is Paul G. Hudson Jr.. My mom and dad had a car that was in Daytona in 1959. It was a 1957 Pontiac an it was number 18 and it placed 3rd I think. The drivers name was Charley Griffith and the owner was Helen and Paul G. Hudson Sr.. If you can find or have any info, would you share and maybe post on your web site? Thanks, PAUL G. HUDSON JR., HILLIARD, FLORIDA
Webmaster: Mr. Hudson, I cannot find any evidence of your parents ownership, but it was common in the early days for there to be owner-sponsored cars. Look below in the owner statistics and you will see that Nascar records show Mr. Griffith as the owner. This does not mean he didn't have co-owners. The sponsorship is known as "Red Bank" if that rings a bell.
UPDATE: The Hudson's
emailed me back and told me that the sponsor Red Bank
was the town in Tennessee his mom and dad had a gas
station and a recap store in.
Charley Griffith, born September 4, 1929, is a former NASCAR driver from Chattanooga, TN. He competed in 17 Grand National Series events in his career prior to his death on November 22, 1999.
In those seventeen
races, Griffith would earn three top-tens, all of which came
in 1959. His best finish came in the inaugural Daytona 500,
where Griffith came home 3rd after finishing 9th in the
qualifier event. After tacking on a 7th place effort later
in the year at Nashville Speedway USA, Griffith could not
earn another top-ten again.