Fatal Accident
Back to Legends




Welcome to Little Joe Weatherly .com!     Be Sure to Check it All Out!    The Races  -  The Stories  -  The Statistics  -  Trivia!

May 29, 1922    -    January 19, 1964

Joe Weatherly in the NASCAR Hall of Fame!

Joe Weatherly Portrait by Jeanne Barnes. Click on picture for purchase information.

Welcome to LittleJoeWeatherly.com. This site is intended for the race fans of Joe and to perpetuate his racing legacy. Enjoy!

News! New Story:

First Race of 1963 was in 1962 By: Monte Dutton

Inaugural Daytona 500 photo developed a buzz
by Dave Fairbank    Newport News, Va., Daily Press    Feb. 2008     Click For Story

The story behind the scar of Norfolk's early NASCAR hero      By EARL SWIFT, The Virginian-Pilot        © October 2, 2007
Click For Story

Joseph Herbert Weatherly was born on May 29, 1922 in Norfolk, Virginia. Weatherly had discovered motorcycles while in High School, and upon returning from the Army started racing them. Weatherly earned three American Motorcycle Association (AMA) Championships before he started racing stock cars.

Joe Weatherly was one of NASCAR's first big stars.  He competed in 230 races from 1952 through 1964, scoring 19 poles, 25 wins and back-to-back championships in 1962 and 1963.

In 1950 Weatherly started racing stock cars where he won 49 of the 83 stock car races he entered. The driver who like so many others began his career racing on dirt had a real disdain for the fancy Indy cars so popular at the time, describing them as looking like "cucumbers with hayraker wheels."

In 1952 Weatherly switched to NASCAR racing and won 49 of the 83 stock car races he was in that year. In 1953 Weatherly won NASCAR's Modified National Crown along with 52 more victories.

In 1955, Weatherly partnered with Paul Sawyer and purchased the Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds which became Richmond International Raceway. Sawyer began building race cars with racing great Joe Weatherly in the 1940s. That created a partnership that moved into buying tracks in Richmond, Virginia Beach and Wilson, N.C., in 1955. Sawyer bought Weatherly out in 1956.

Please Put Me On The LittleJoeWeatherly.com Email Update List!

"Pops" Turner (26) leads "Pops" Weatherly (12) through the north turn on Daytona Beach

Joe Weatherly testing in a team ford on Daytona Beach with team manager Pete DePaolo in 1956

In 1956, Weatherly moved to NASCAR’s premier division, the Grand National Division driving cars from Peter DePaolo Engineering and Ford. It was in the Grand National Division that Weatherly really began to enjoy himself.

In 1957, Weatherly entered 15 Grand National events driving for Holman-Moody finishing 8 times in the top-10 and having DNFs in the other 7. That was classic Joe Weatherly. He would either finish up front or blow it up trying.

In 1960, Joe Weatherly was one of the stars of the NASCAR Convertible Division winning at Daytona. Weatherly was the Most Popular Driver in 1961.

In 1962 Weatherly won the NASCAR Grand National Division Championship which was

1960 Ford Starliner Convertiblethe first for legendary car owner Bud Moore and was won on the strength of nine victories


Defending champion Joe Weatherly proved his 1962 championship was no flash in the pan as he won his second straight NASCAR Grand National championship. He tallied three wins and 35 top-10 finishes through 53 starts that season. In one of the closer points races in early NASCAR history, Weatherly outlasted some of the biggest names in the history of the sport, while establishing himself as the driver to beat in the 1960's. He won the 1963 championship after winning only three races, compared to 14 won by runner-up Richard Petty.

Weatherly (12) passing Johnny Allen (22) for the win in a '59 T-Bird converible.Weatherly was famous for "bumming rides" all season, not sticking to one team and a particular owner, driving for eight different owners. With five races to go in the 1963 season, defending champion Joe Weatherly and Richard Petty were neck-and-neck in the standings. Petty struggled a week before in North Wilkesboro but was still right on Weatherly's tail. Appropriately, they finished 1-2 at Tar Heel Speedway, as Petty won at his hometown track. Fred Lorenzen, Ned Jarrett, Fireball Roberts and Jimmy Pardue were all within striking distance of the title as well entering the race at Randleman. Lorenzen would finish the race in fifth, Jarrett in ninth and Pardue in 12th. Roberts was not entered in the event.

Joe Weatherly and Richard Petty battled back and forth all year and came into the season finale each with a chance to win the NASCAR Grand National title, while the other points contenders had some close battles of their own.






Joe Weatherly



Richard Petty



Fred Lorenzen



Ned Jarrett



Fireball Roberts



Jim Pardue



Darel Dieringer



David Pearson



Rex White



Tiny Lund


Among his major victories were the 1960 and 1963 "Rebel 300" at Darlington and the 1961 National 400 at Charlotte. Joe had a 2nd and a 3rd in the '61 and '62 Daytona 500's and won two Daytona 100 mile qualifiers in '61 and '62. In the first Firecracker 400 in 1959, Weatherly finished 2nd to Fireball Roberts.

True Entrepreneur

Besides Weatherly's stock car prowess, he successfully raced motorcycles and became a track owner - promoter. What other driver in the 50-60's was so industrious?

A Reader Asks:
Did Joe Weatherly own the micro midget dirt track at Chinese Corner at Witchduck and Virginia Beach Blvd. back in the 50's 0r early 60's?       Thank-You

 (Editor) Bob: My search turned up this information. Yes, Weatherly was a part-owner until 1956:

Virginia Beach Speedway: A 3/8 mile sand oval built on the intersection of Witchduck Road and Virginia Beach Boulevard in 1948. It was used through until 1960, and was also known as Joe Weatherly Speedway and Chinese Corner Speedway.

June Rose Hudgins. Daughter of Ralph Rose writes, "I remember, as a little girl, we always raced at the "Chinese Corner Speedway."  Folks have asked me recently how in the world it got that name.  It's certainly not politically correct these days; however, back then there were two or three small houses (more like trailer size) across the corner from the track.  They were all painted red - I'm sure the same can of paint - and they did laundry.  There were always lots of white sheets hanging on the clotheslines over there, and I would stand on the back of our tow truck and watch them as the dust started to fly from the racetrack as they rushed out there to rip those sheets down!

It has been reported that a young sailor stationed in Norfolk and his wife would go the races at Chinese Corner Speedway on Friday nights.  He went on to become President of the United States.  Who?  President & Mrs. Jimmy Carter."

Pete Babb, a long time Busch official for 55 years who recently passed away at age 79 was interviewed in September 2003 and was asked "Who are some of the characters you’ve known in racing?"
Babb replied, "Jim Hunter … he’s my best buddy. It would be hard to pick out one. Junie Donlavey, (from Virginia) he was one of the characters of racing and one of the greatest men I ever knew. I remember him before he came to Winston Cup … or Grand National … racing. He used to come down to the track that I operated that was called Chinese Corner Speedway. That’s a track that Joe Weatherly and Paul Sawyer (of Richmond International track fame) promoted.

Norfolk had two racetracks in the '40s: Virginia Beach and Princess Anne speedways. About this time Paul Sawyer started building race cars with an early NASCAR star and fellow Norfolkian and Virginia native, Joe Weatherly. In the early '50s, Weatherly asked Sawyer to invest in a speedway in Wilson, N.C. and Virginia Beach. With a $5,000 investment, Sawyer took the raceway ownership, management and promotional plunge. Sawyer bought Joe Weatherly out in 1956.

Sawyer also became involved in the Virginia Beach Speedway on Virginia Beach Boulevard near Witchduck Road, and in 1955, Sawyer joined Weatherly as co-owner of Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway (aka “Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds") - the humble dirt-track precursor of today's 83,000-seat facility. The Virginia Beach speedway was also promoted as the Joe Weatherly Speedway.

By 1960, events conspired to cause Sawyer to sharpen his focus on Richmond. On Easter Sunday 1958, a fire wiped out the Wilson track, and by 1960, escalating rents at the Virginia Beach speedway and lack of expansion space for parking made its continued operation unfeasible.

The Annual Joe Weatherly Memorial will be the main attraction for the Saturday portion of the program at the Virginia Motor Speedway, which will once again host an AMA Grand National event this year a two-day event. The Friday night portion of the two day program will feature a vintage and amateur race.

Bill Sawyer’s Virginia Motor Speedway, an ASA Member Track affiliate, is a 1/2-mile, dirt oval. The track is located on U.S. Route 17, eight miles north of Saluda, VA and 25 miles south of Tappahannock, VA in Jamaica, VA. The speedway is just a short drive from the Richmond, Fredericksburg, Southern Maryland and the Hampton Roads markets.

To learn more about Bill Sawyer’s Virginia Motor Speedway and its schedule of events, fans may call the Speedway office at (804) 758-1VMS or visit the track’s web site at www.vamotorspeedway.com.

Joe Weatherly & Motorcycles

Please Put Me On The LittleJoeWeatherly.com Email Update List!


Copyright © 2005 LittleJoeWeatherly.com by Roland Via. All rights reserved.  Revised: 01/16/16 15:59:26 -0500. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works. FAIR USE NOTICE: This web page may contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This page is operated under the assumption that this use on the Web constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Any text or images that you feel need to be removed please contact me. LittleJoeWeatherly.com is not an official site of Joe Weatherly or his estate, nor associated or affiliated with any racing club or organizations including that of NASCAR. It is constructed simply as an internet information source. Images and content made be used with email permission. Opinions and other content are not necessarily those of editors, sponsors. Please visit official NASCAR information website at NASCAR.COM.