1965 National 400 (partially found footage of NASCAR Grand National Series race; 1965)

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This article has been tagged as NSFL due to its discussion of a fatal motor racing accident.


A.J. Foyt (41) holding a narrow lead over Fred Lorenzen (28) and Dick Hutcherson (29).

Status: Partially Found

The 1965 National 400 was the 52nd race of the 1965 NASCAR Grand National Series. Occurring on 17th October at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, the race would ultimately be won by pole sitter Fred Lorenzen in a 1964 Ford, with Dick Hutcherson and Curtis Turner helping to achieve a clean sweep for Ford. However, the event is overshadowed by a first lap multicar crash that claimed the life of Harold Kite.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1965 National 400 was the 6th running of the event, with the race typically being around 400 miles in length during this time period.[1] It was one of two 1965 Grand National Series races conducted at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the other being the World 600,[2] which in 1964 occurred on 23rd May and was won by Fred Lorenzen.[3] The race also has ties to the modern Bank of America Roval 400, having dropped the National name from 1983 onwards.[4]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Lorenzen winning the pole position with a speed of 147.773 mph.[5][1] Lorenzen therefore was looking to replicate his success at the previous year's event.[5] Directly behind him was fellow 1965 Ford driver Cale Yarborough, with Darel Dieringer in a 1964 Mercury qualifying third.[1] Harold Kite would start 24th out of 44 entrants.[1]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1965 National 400 occurred on 17th October.[1] Yarborough maintained his lead following the fatal accident on the first lap, holding onto it until lap 17, when Dieringer passed him for the first position.[1] Yarborough regained it on lap 30 however, and would remain in contention for an open race for the lead, before retiring on lap 47 because of an engine failure.[1] In total, there were 27 different lap leaders, split among eight different leaders racers.[1][5] On lap 209, the 1965 Ford of Sam McQuagg crashed out;[1] it slammed into a guardrail, knocking photographer Chuck Johnson, who was busy capturing a skid on the other end of the turn, over in the process. Johnson was injured as a result, while McQuagg retired from the race.[6][1]

For the final 50 laps, it was a duel between Lorenzen and the 1965 Ford of A.J. Foyt, after Dieringer retired following a blown tyre.[5][1] The two drivers continually contended for the first position, with there being nine changes between them during this period in the race.[1][5] Five of these occurred during the final 37 laps.[5] The duel would end in dramatic fashion when Foyt smashed into the fourth turn guard rail, and was forced to enter the pits.[5] This led to Lorenzen inheriting the lead, and while he was able to continue, Foyt ultimately finished sixth.[5][1] Lorenzen held on to win the race and claim $10,400 in prize money.[5][1] Behind him were the 1964 Fords of Dick Hutcherson and Curtis Turner in second and third respectively, with Ned Jarrett fourth.[1][5] Thus, this enabled Ford to achieve a clean sweep for the race.[1]

Death of Harold Kite[edit | edit source]

On the first lap of the race, Kite and the 1964 Ford of Rock Harn collided, causing both of them to spin.[7] While competitors did their best to avoid the carnage, Harn would be slammed into by Sonny Hitchin's 1964 Ford and the 1963 Chevrolet of Frank Warren.[7] As the pile-up continued, Kite headed down the banking, into the path of the 1963 Ford of Jimmy Helms, resulting in a drivers side-on crash at 120 mph.[7] Kite was severely injured at the scene, while Helms suffered minor cuts and bruises from the impact.[7][5]

Rescuers pulled Kite free from his vehicle, and took him to the track hospital. Ultimately, Kite was declared dead on arrival, aged 43.[7][5] Kite, a former Army Captain, was competing in his first high-speed race since 1955.[5][7] He is one of a select few to win their debut race in the NASCAR Strictly Stock Series, having achieved victory at a 1950 race at the Daytona Beach Road Course.[8]

Availability[edit | edit source]

According to NASCAR on TV, ABC televised 45 minutes of highlights on 23rd October 1965 as part of its Wide World of Sports alongside a surfing championship.[9] It is unknown whether the broadcast contained Kite's fatal accident, although NASCAR on TV does state it was "edited",[9] suggesting footage was omitted. This broadcast has yet to publicly resurface. As of the present day, the only accessible footage of the race is of Kite's fatal accident and a few laps of the event being under caution.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Images[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]