Joe Lee Johnson donates First World 600 Trophy to IMHOF
Talladega, AL [8/6/98] -- Joe Lee Johnson, winner of the very first World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1960, has donated the trophy he received from winning that historic race to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. Johnson's gift came in honor of the 50th Anniversary of NASCAR.
"This is one of the most historically significant pieces of memorabilia that we have. It is a beautiful trophy, befitting the historic race that it represents," said IMHOF Executive Director Don Naman. "We really appreciate Joe Lee donating it to us."
Johnson, who now makes his home in Cleveland, Tennessee, came from five laps down to win the longest race in stock car history. It came against a star-studded field, including Hall of Famers Lee and Richard Petty, Buck and Buddy Baker, Fireball Roberts, Junior Johnson, David Pearson, Tiny Lund, Banjo Matthews, Ned Jarrett, Fred Lorenzen, Curtis Turner and Joe Weatherly. Johnson has said it was his biggest win in a career that included a NASCAR Convertible Division title in 1959, as well as hundreds of short track wins.
The race took five hours and 34 minutes to run, and Johnson noted that "it was a toss-up whether the car or the driver would give out first." Johnson was fortunate to be able to keep his car and himself going for the full 600 miles, and he wound up winning by four laps over Johnny Beauchamp. His victory was worth $27,150, and, of course, his historic trophy.
[Editor's note: Joe Lee is a member of the Living Legends of Auto Racing, Inc.]