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Jimmie Lewallen
Born: August 22, 1919      Died: October 16, 1995
Home: Archdale, NC

Jimmie Lewallen was an American racecar driver from High Point, North Carolina, USA. He completed in NASCAR's Strictly Stock/Grand National division from its first race at Charlotte Speedway in 1949 until 1960.

Racing career

Lewallen began his racing career in motorcycles in 1934. He switched to racing cars in the late 1930s when he delivered illegal moonshine to other parts of North Carolina. Many early NASCAR drivers were moonshine runners. He raced at a one mile dirt track in High Point, until he went off to war in 1941. He served in the European Theater Operations (ETO) until 1945, including the Battle of Normandy. He was wounded twice and received numerous awards.

He resumed racing after he returned home from the war. Lewallen attended an October 12, 1946 meeting that formed NASCAR. The meeting was held at the Rex Hotel on Peachtree Street in Atlanta Georgia. Around twelve people attended, including Bill France, Sr., Red Vogt, and Raymond Parks. Bill France offered him a chance to "buy into NASCAR" for $500.00 but Lewallen turned him down, saying "it would never amount to anything".

Lewallen raced in NASCAR's first stockcar race at Charlotte Speedway in 1949. He finished sixteenth and earned $25. Lewellan won the Modified championship at Bowman Gray Stadium in 1950. Lewallen drove a second car for Petty Enterprises in 1953 at West Beach Speedway, finishing second in the race behind teammate Lee Petty. He had three consecutive Top 10 finishes in the series points from 1953 until 1955. His best career race finish was second, which he accomplished four times. While Lewallen never won in the Grand National, he won dozens of races in NASCAR's Modified and Sportsman divisions. Lewallen raced for various owners throughout his career. He raced in various divisions until 1975. He helped found the "Old Timer Racing Club". Lewallen died from cancer on October 16, 1995 at a Winston-Salem hospital.



Jimmie Lewallen, Bill Blair and Fred Harb are the subject of the upcoming independent movie "Red Dirt Rising", which is based on the book "Red Dirt Tracks: The Forgotten Heroes of Early Stockcar Racing" by Gail Cauble Gurley.

Movie being made about stock car racing: If you happened to drive by North Wilkesboro Speedway you may have heard the rumble of a flathead Ford making a few laps around the historic five-eighths mile circuit. It was all part of a music video shot at the track for a new song by recording artist Matt Dylan and members of the Midnight Steel Band titled "Carolina Moonshine." The music video is part of a larger production, a movie called "Red Dirt Rising." The movie is based on the book "Red Dirt Tracks," a work of historical fiction by Gail Gurley. The film is centered on the life of Jimmie Lewallen, as well as fellow drivers Bill Blair and Fred Harb, all of whom raced and ran moonshine. Set during the 1940s, the film is meant to accurately portray the life and times of those involved with stock car racing before NASCAR was a household name. "Red Dirt Rising" is scheduled for official release on Jan. 13 at Johnny and June's Saloon in Winston-Salem, NC.
Two of the big players behind the production of "Red Dirt Rising" are Gary Lewallen and Bill Blair Jr. Lewallen and Blair are the sons of drivers portrayed in the film, the late Jimmie Lewallen and Bill Blair. Blair, who volunteered his flathead 1939 Ford for the music video, hopes that the movie paints an accurate picture of what life was like for drivers back in those days.
Proceeds from both the film and the soundtrack will be put toward the Racing Legends Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization for which Lewallen took the chair after his father died in 1995. The shoot was closed to the public. NASCAR legend Junior Johnson and son Robert also appeared in the video shoot.
(Wilkes Journal Patriot) more info about the movie at reddirtrising.com or facebook. More info about North Wilkesboro Speedway at savethespeedway.net and historicnws.com.


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Racing's roar returns to North Wilkesboro track

- Winston-Salem Journal, N.C.

When Bill Blair cranks up his 1940 Ford coupe and heads out for a 20-lap Legendary Flathead Ford Series race Saturday night at North Wilkesboro Speedway, he'll be a link between the track's history and future.

The speedway has a schedule of races of 200 or more laps in the fall, and drivers have tested cars on the track, but tonight will mark the first time that spectators will be in the stands for races since the speedway closed in 1996.

''It's a historic thing and it's something we all look forward to," Blair said. "It's an honor, especially since my father raced there in the first race in 1947."

His late father, also named Bill Blair, was one of NASCAR's pioneers, and is featured with other early Piedmont race drivers Jimmie Lewallen and Fred Harb as subjects in the independent movie Red Dirt Rising. The movie will make its premiere tonight on a big screen outside, after the races and a concert.

Fans will be in the stands along the front straightaway. Work on re-opening other portions of the stands and complex will continue in the future.

Blair, who lives on Speedway Drive in Thomasville, said he expects about 10 or so cars in the race, and figures they'll be running about 100 mph at the short track. The cars are modified coupes, with interior roll bars and other safety features, but look like the cars the old bootleggers used.

The elder Blair preferred driving to farming. ''He'd rather go race and go places than be stuck in one place milking a cow," Blair said.

His father was arrested while hauling moonshine on Christmas Day 1932 in Martinsville, Va. He got caught when it started snowing, and authorities boxed him in, then shot out his tires. He was fined $100. That's the story the younger Blair said he heard from his parents.

The Matt Dylan Band will perform a live concert after the races, starting shortly after 7 p.m. Dylan's song "Carolina Moonshine" is on the soundtrack for the movie. A music video shot at the speedway can be seen on YouTube, where it's gotten more than 28,000 hits.

After the concert and just before the movie showing, plans will be unveiled for the Benny Parsons Memorial Sports Complex in Wilkes County.

Terri Parsons, the widow of the late Winston Cup champion, was instrumental in helping Alton McBride Jr. and his Speedway Associates Inc. in the effort to revitalize North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.   Read more: NewsObserver.com 

A winners Trophy presented by Big Bill France and Ed Otto




Jimmy Lewallen Strictly Stock and Grand National Racing Statistics

Year Age Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn
1949 29 3 of 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 25   14.0 23.7
1950 30 3 of 19 0 1 1 0 330 0 400 41 24.0 22.7
1951 31 12 of 41 0 4 8 0 613 0 2,180 13 27.2 9.2
1952 32 20 of 34 0 2 7 0 2327 0 2,052 14 14.3 17.2
1953 33 22 of 37 0 7 13 0 908 0 4,222 9 15.2 13.2
1954 34 22 of 37 0 5 10 0 2963 0 4,668 8 28.5 13.6
1955 35 33 of 45 0 8 16 1 4028 0 6,440 9 12.5 14.1
1956 36 11 of 56 0 1 1 0 742 0 1,150 56 16.7 22.8
1957 37 7 of 53 0 0 0 0 895 0 1,030 26 11.0 16.7
1958 38 1 of 51 0 0 0 0 389 0 210   31.0 21.0
1959 39 6 of 44 0 0 1 0 509 0 350   19.2 23.0
1960 40 2 of 44 0 0 0 0 63 0 215   12.5 15.5
12 years 142 0 28 57 1 13767 0 22,942   15.3 15.5

Jimmy Lewallen Convertible Racing Statistics
Year Age Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn
1956 36 36 of 47 0 15 26 1 5724 11 9,827 6 9.2 8.7
1957 37 1 of 36 0 0 0 0 180 0 125   6.0 11.0
1959 39 1 of 15 0 0 0 0 49 0 0   14.0 27.0
3 years 38 0 15 26 1 5953 11 9,952   9.2 9.2


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