1962 Daytona 500 (partially found footage of NASCAR Grand National Series race; 1962)

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Fireball Roberts celebrating his win in Victory Lane.

Status: Partially Found

The 1962 Daytona 500 was the 5th race of the 1962 NASCAR Grand National Series. Occurring on 18th February at the Daytona International Speedway, the race would ultimately be won by polesitter Fireball Roberts in a 1962 Pontiac at a record speed for a 500-mile event. His victory would be declared later than usual because of a protest made against him.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1962 Daytona 500 was the 4th running of the event, with the annual race typically lasting 500 miles in length.[1] Since its inception in 1959, the Daytona 500 has become the most prestigious race on the Cup Series calendar, including being defined as "The Great American Race", offering the largest prize pot and generally defining a driver's career.[2] The race would be one of four 1962 Grand National races at Daytona International Speedway to award points.[3] The others included the Firecracker 250, which occurred on 4th July and was won by Fireball Roberts;[4] and the Twin 100s,[5][6] which also helped determine who qualified for the Daytona 500, as well as its starting order.[7]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Roberts winning the pole position in a 1962 Pontiac with a speed of 156.999 mph.[1] The Twin 100s then commenced; in the first, a duel between Roberts and 1960 Daytona 500 winner and 1962 Pontiac driver Junior Johnson commenced, with both trading the lead numerous times.[8] Roberts would ultimately be victorious and gain $1,000 in prize money after Johnson was forced to pit for fuel.[8][5] In second and third were the 1962 Pontiac drivers Jack Smith and Cotton Owens respectively.[5][8] Johnson finished fifth out of 25 competitors.[5] Post-race, Roberts stated he was frustrated that Johnson decided to stay back rather than lead more, as he wanted the benefit of the draft so that fuel could be saved.[8] In the second race, a multicar crash occurred which took out polesitter and 1961 Pontiac driver Dartel Dieringer.[8][6] Post-caution, Banjo Matthews led in his 1962 Pontiac until fellow 1962 Pontiac driver Joe Weatherly achieved a lead change on lap 12.[8][6] Matthews would ultimately retire after 30 laps because of a fuel pump issue, while Weatherly won the race and the $1,000, ahead of the 1962 Ford of Nelson Stacy and 1962 Chevrolet driver Rex White.[6][8]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1962 Daytona 500 commenced on 18th February.[1] Weatherly took the lead on the first lap, before dropping it to Roberts in the second.[1][8] Johnson briefly led on lap 4, only for Roberts to retake it a lap later and hold it for 11 more.[1] Aside from a brief lap led by Cotton Owens, the battle for the lead primarily centred around Roberts, Johnson, and Richard Petty in a 1962 Plymouth, with the trio swapping the lead several times.[8][1] Johnson would retire after 72 laps however, following an engine failure.[1] Elsewhere, Buck Baker crashed his 1962 Chrysler after 89, suffering minor injuries in the process.[8][1]

While the Pontiacs had superior horsepower, Petty was able to take advantage of his Plymouth's compact nature.[8] While Fireball would dominate, including leading from lap 89 to 112, Petty would persist, even holding the first position from laps 131 to 149.[1][8] Ultimately though, Roberts maintained control of the race, achieving the winning overtake on lap 151, and successfully defending it for the remaining laps.[8][1] He extended his lead by the end to a margin of 27 seconds to claim victory and $24,190 in prize money.[9][8][1] His average speed of 152.529 mph set a word record for a 500-mile race.[10] Petty would finish second, with Weatherly taking third.[8][1] Post-race, Lee Petty, father of Richard and owner of Petty Enterprises, filed a protest alleging that Fireball should be disqualified because his pit crew exceeded the maximum allowed number of six.[9][11][12][8][10] NASCAR officials reviewed the claim, but dismissed it three days later on the grounds that it was hearsay, particularly when Lee Petty was unable to provide photographic proof he stated showed Roberts was violating the rule.[11][12][8]

Availability[edit | edit source]

According to NASCAR on TV, 45 minutes of highlights were televised by ABC on 24th February 1962, alongside speed-skating.[13] This broadcast has yet to publicly resurface, and just like early NASCAR broadcasts like CBS' coverage of the 1960 Daytona 500, there is the possibility that it could have been wiped.[14] However, the possibility of the broadcast remaining in kinetoscope form remains.[14]

Nevertheless, all Daytona 500s have at least some footage that is publicly available courtesy of the DVD set Daytona 500: 50 Years The Greatest American Race.[15] Additionally, footage from the VHS set called The Golden Era of Racing is also available to view.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Videos[edit | edit source]

Highlights of the race.
Race highlights from The Golden Era of Racing.
Further footage from the Sammy LaMancuso film collection.

Images[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 Racing-Reference detailing qualifying and race results for the event. Retrieved 12 Apr '22
  2. Sportskeeda detailing the Daytona 500 and its importance to NASCAR. Retrieved 12 Apr '22
  3. Racing-Reference detailing the 1962 NASCAR Grand National calendar. Retrieved 12 Apr '22
  4. Racing-Reference detailing the results of the 1962 Firecracker 250. Retrieved 12 Apr '22
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Racing-Reference detailing the results of the first Twin 100s race. Retrieved 12 Apr '22
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Racing-Reference detailing the results of the second Twin 100s race. Retrieved 12 Apr '22
  7. Draftkings Nation detailing the purpose of the Twin races. Retrieved 12 Apr '22
  8. 8.00 8.01 8.02 8.03 8.04 8.05 8.06 8.07 8.08 8.09 8.10 8.11 8.12 8.13 8.14 8.15 8.16 RacersReunion detailing the Twin 100s and the 500 itself. Retrieved 12 Apr '22
  9. 9.0 9.1 Daytona Beach Morning Journal reporting on Roberts win being called under question following the protest being filed (article found on Bench-Racing). Retrieved 12 Apr '22
  10. 10.0 10.1 Spartanburg Herald reporting on Roberts world record win being called under question following the protest being filed (article found on Bench-Racing). Retrieved 12 Apr '22
  11. 11.0 11.1 Daytona Beach Morning Journal reporting on Lee Petty's protest being dismissed, giving Roberts the win (article found on Bench-Racing). Retrieved 12 Apr '22
  12. 12.0 12.1 The New York Times reporting on Roberts being declared the winner after NASCAR officials dismissed Lee Petty's protest. Retrieved 12 Apr '22
  13. NASCAR on TV detailing the ABC broadcast of the race. Retrieved 12 Apr '22
  14. 14.0 14.1 Archived Racing-Reference detailing how the broadcast could have been wiped, or that a kinetoscope may still exist of it during the early era of NASCAR broadcasts. Retrieved 12 Apr '22
  15. Daytona 500: 50 Years The Greatest American Race 2008 containing highlights of the race. Retrieved 12 Apr '22