1964 Atlanta 500 (partially found footage of NASCAR Grand National Series race; 1964)

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Paul Goldsmith famously slides upside down across the track.

Status: Partially Found

The 1964 Atlanta 500 was the 13th race of the 1964 NASCAR Grand National Series. Occurring on 5th April at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, the race would ultimately be won by pole sitter Fred Lorenzen in a 1964 Ford, his third consecutive victory at the event. The event would be notable for the numerous heavy crashes and engine failures that left only ten competitors by the end.


The 1964 Atlanta 500 was the 5th running of the event, with the race traditionally being around 500 miles in length.[1] It was one of two 1964 Grand National Series races conducted at Atlanta Motor Speedway,[2] the other being the Dixie 500,[1] which in 1964 occurred on 7th June and was won by Ned Jarrett in a 1964 Ford.[3] The Atlanta 500 also has ties to the modern Quaker State 400, which resumed the event at a 400 mile length in 2021 after not being held from 2011-2020.[4][5]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Fred Lorenzen winning the pole position with a speed of 146.47 mph.[6] Fellow 1964 Ford driver A.J. Foyt qualified behind him in second, with Paul Goldsmith placing third in a 1964 Plymouth.[6] Having won the pole position, Lorenzen was now looking to achieve his third consecutive victory at the event.[7][8]

The Race

With the starting order decided, the 1964 Atlanta 500 occurred on 5th April.[6] Goldsmith shot into the lead on the first lap, and was seemingly the favourite to win based on leading the first 55 laps.[6] During the early stages of the race, a few minor crashes occurred, taking out the 1964 Ford of Dan Gurney and the 1964 Mercury of Parnelli Jones, with 1964 Plymouth driver Jimmy Pardue crashing out two laps later.[6] On lap 41, Darel Dieringer in a 1964 Mercury wrecked his vehicle, forcing him to retire.[6] On lap 55, Goldsmith would join the growing list of retirements in spectacular fashion.[6] His car slammed into a retaining barrier, causing it to flip over and resulting in the Plymouth scraping down the tarmac upside down for a few seconds.[8] Goldsmith was fortunate to escape injury.[8]

With Goldsmith out, Fireball Roberts in a 1964 Ford briefly led, only for Jim Hurtubise in a 1964 Plymouth to overtake him on lap 59.[6] Hurtubise would then be overtaken by 1964 Ford driver Marvin Panch on lap 61.[6] He held the lead for 31 laps, before Lorenzen again moved back into the first position.[6] From that point onwards, lead challenges were generally between himself and the 1964 Dodge of Bobby Isaac.[6] On lap 106, David Pearson's 1964 Dodge suffered a tyre blowout, causing his car to spin and collect Roberts' in the process, resulting in both drivers retiring on the spot.[8][6] This would be the last crash of the race;[6] according to The New York Times, most of the incidents were triggered by tyre blowouts.[8]

Seven other drivers retired because of engine failures, with Panch's expiring on lap 190.[6] By the time Foyt retired on lap 246, just 10 drivers were left to compete.[6][8] On lap 167, Lorenzen overtook Isaac, and faced no further challenges, leading the remaining 168 laps to claim his third consecutive Atlanta 500 victory and earn $18,000 in prize money.[8][6] Isaac held on to finish second, albeit two laps down, while Ned Jarrett in a 1964 Ford finished third, three laps down from Lorenzen.[6] According to The New York Times, Lorenzen's 134.25 mph average speed set a stockcar record.[8]


According to NASCAR on TV, 1 hour of highlights was broadcast by CBS on 19th April 1964 as part of its CBS Sports Spectacular.[9] However, this broadcast has since not publicly resurfaced. Nevertheless, footage of Goldsmith's crash can be found on YouTube, with other race clips also being said to be included in the 1968 film Speed Lovers.[10] Several photos of the event are also accessible on a website dedicated to Dave MacDonald, a competitor of this event.[11]



Footage of Goldsmith's crash.


See Also