|September 18, 2012|
1918: Johnny Mantz, best known for his victory in the first Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in 1950, is born. The Indiana-born Mantz, who drove in just 12 races in NASCAR’s top series, was the slowest qualifier for the first event at Darlington, but started 43rd in the 75-car field after a convoluted qualifying process. Mantz drove at a methodical pace in a Plymouth equipped with truck tires that were far more durable than those of his rivals. He led 351 of the 400 laps and collected $10,510. The 1.366-mile track awards present-day winners of the Southern 500 the Johnny Mantz Trophy in honor of his only big-league NASCAR triumph. Mantz died in a highway crash in 1972.