Racing History Minute - 1962 Daytona 500

Tim Leeming
@tim-leeming
02/07/14 09:42:11AM
3,108 posts

In 1962, Daytona continued with the twin 100 mile qualifying races. Let's begin with the first one where Fireball Roberts was able to run 100 miles in just over 38 minutes and beat Junior Johnson when Johnson's Pontiac began to sputter with an empty fuel tank. When the green dropped on this race, it was a Roberts and Johnson show. The two traded the lead back and forth as the "drafting" effect was still being perfected. After the race Fireball said Johnson was ticking him off because Johnson chose to follow more than lead and Fireball wanted the benefit of the draft to save some fuel. As it worked out, it was Johnson who had the fuel issues. Fireball was driving for Smokey Yunick and Smokey's cars were known to get excellent fuel "mileage" at Daytona. "Mileage" is quoted because the story is well known about the time NASCAR took the fuel tank from a Yunick car only to have Yunick drive off with the fuel left in all the hidden places he had constructed.

Fireball averaged 156.999 mph for the 100 miles to win over Jack Smith. Top Five finishers were:

1. Fireball Roberts, Smokey Yunick Pontiac

2. Jack Smith, Smith Pontiac

3. Cotton Owens, Owens Pontiac

4. Dan Gurney, Lafayette Ford

5. Junior Johnson, Holly Farms Pontiac

The Second 100 miler started with a bang as pole winner, Darel Dieringer, by virtue of his victory in a 25 lap qualifying race for the 100 milers held five days before this event, was involved in a spectacular 6 car melee on lap three that eliminated him as well as Marvin Panch, Speedy Thompson and Bobby Johns.

When the race resumed, Banjo Matthews was leading in his Pontiac until lap 12 when Joe Weatherly pushed his Bud Moore Pontiac to the front. Weatherly would lead the rest of the way to win with an average speed of 145.395 mph. Top five finishers were:

1. Joe Weathery, Bud Moore Pontiac

2. Nelson Stacy, Holman Moody Ford

3. Rex White, Louis Clements Chevrolet

4. Richard Petty, Petty Engineering Plymouth

5. Johnny Allen, B. G. Holloway Chevrolet

The Sunday of the 500 dawned clear and bright, although a little chilly. As the cars lined up for the start, the black and gold of Fireball's Pontiac seemed to add a luster to the field as it sparkled in the sun. The cars rolled off pit road behind the pace car and the earth shook, literally, as the parade and then pace laps allowed the cars to warm up to race temps.

It was the plan of Smokey and Fireball to run "flat out" the entire race. Roberts had been a major factor in all three previous 500s only to be denied by mechanical failures. This year he had won everything Daytona had to offer and was prepared to take home that trophy as well.

On the green flag, Joe Weatherly slipped his Pontiac to the point before losing the lead on lap 2 to Fireball. On lap 4, Junior Johnson, always the lead-foot, took over but could only maintain that lead for 1 lap before Fireball went back out front. From lap 16 to lap 41, Johnson and Roberts swapped the lead back and forth as the draft and the slingshot were being put to the test. On lap 42, a young Richard Petty in the bright blue Plymouth took over and was able to lead 4 laps before the swift Pontiac brigade of Roberts and Johnson went back to the battle for the top spot.

As the Pontiacs flexed their superior horsepower, Petty managed to tuck his smaller Plymouth behind the brutes with the Indian head emblems and hung on for dear life. The last 100 laps of the race were between Fireball and Johnson, for sure, with Fireball dominating, but Petty would slip into the lead on occasion. Petty would last lead on lap 150 before Fireball went to the front on lap 151 to lead the remaining 49 laps in fine fashion.

The checkered flag was waving for Fireball as he roared off turn four, 27 seconds ahead of Petty, and finally, after such heartbreak in the previous 500s, this one was his, all his. He had virtually dominated Daytona during Speedweeks of 1962.

Buck Baker had crashed on lap 83, putting his Chrysler hard into the wall. Buck was taken to the hospital but was released with only minor injuries. Darel Dieringer who was supposed to start a Ray Fox Pontiac, was left without a ride at the last minute when NASCAR allowed only one Fox Pontiac to start. Darel took over for Banjo Matthews and was able to finish 8th in the Matthews Pontiac. This was also the race that saw a young, brash, Cale Yarborough make his first Daytona 500 start. Cale was driving for Julian Buesink in a Ford that made only four laps before ignition wires burned and parked the car, giving Cale a last place finish in his first Daytona 500.

After the race. the Petty team filed an official protest with NASCAR, alleging the Yunick crew pitting Fireball, had more men over the wall on pit stops than the allowed six. Three days later NASCAR issued it's ruling that the protest was based on "hearsay" and had no "merit" and was therefore dismissed.

Finishing order:

1. Fireball Roberts, Smokey Yunick Pontiac, winning $24,190.00

2. Richard Petty,Petty Engineering Plymouth, winning $10,250.00 (27 seconds back)

3. Joe Weatherly, Bud Moore Pontiac, winning $7,100.00 (1 lap back)

4. Jack Smith, Smith Pontiac, winning $4,025.00 (1 lap back)

5. Fred Lorenzen, Lafayette Ford, winning $2,975.00 (1 lap back)

6. David Pearson

7. Rex White

8. Banjo Matthews with relief from Darel Dieringer

9. Ned Jarrett

10. Bob Welborn

11. Bill Wimble

12. Ernie Gahan

13. Bunkie Blackburn

14.Jim Paschal

15. Jim Cushman

16. Johnny Allen

17.Speedy Thompson

18. Billy Wade

19. Paul Burrow

20. Thomas Cox

21. Art Brady

22. Herman Beam

23. Curtis Crider

24. Jim McGuirk

25. Gerald Duke

26. George Alsobrook

27. Dan Gurney

28. Buck Baker

29. Buddy Baker

30. Bobby Johns

31. Larry Thomas

32. Ed Livingston

33. Cotton Owens

34. Junior Johnson

36. Bob Burdick

37. Ralph Earnhardt

38. Charlie Griffith

39. Sal Tovella

40. Red Farmer

41. Jim Bennett

42. Tommy Irwin

43. Nelson Stacy

44. Marvin Panch

45. G. C. Spencer

46. Larry Frank

47. Elmo Langley

48. Cale Yarborough

PERSONAL MEMORIES: This was my first trip to Daytona. Uncle Bobby had decided, about two weeks before, that we would go. His wife, my Aunt Mary, their daughter Debbie, Uncle Bobby and I would head south for the race. Uncle Bobby said we also needed to be there Saturday for the Modified-Sportsman race so the plan was to leave Friday. Enter my Aunt Mary's love for Rod Serling's "Twilight Zone" (which I shared by the way) that came on at 10:00 p.m. on Friday night. It was decided we would watch "Twilight Zone" and then head south.

As soon as the show was over, we climbed in Uncle Bobby's 1957 Plymouth and began what would turn out to be a "Twilight Zone" type trip. It was one very foggy night. By the time we were on Highway 17 through Georgia (maybe 17A) the fog was so thick we could barely see the chrome fender markers on the front of that Plymouth. Fortunately, traffic was almost non-existant as we made the trip.

We arrived at the track just as the sun was coming up and went through the tunnel into an infield the likes of which my imagination had never envisioned. It seemed endless. Uncle Bobby secured us a spot up next to the fence in turn one and that is where we would spend the next two days. The modified sportsman race was exciting but what I remember most is those early 50s Studebakers coming by like rockets. Not sure but maybe it was LeeRoy Yarbrough winning that day.

After sleeping in the spacious Plymouth (back when I was much smaller) I was up against the fence, sitting in a lawn chair we had packed, long before the race was due to start. I think I was absolutely in awe of what I was seeing but I was not prepared for the sound of those cars when the "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines" command was given. All my years around the short tracks and every those trips to Darlington since 1957 had not prepared me for the guttural sound of that much horsepower. When the green flag waved and those cars came by me at speed on the first lap my eyes must have been as big a Chevrolet Hubcaps!!

To wrap up my feelings from that day, I was excited to see my driver, Richard Petty, lead the laps he did, and to be able to draft so closely to the black and gold Pontiac of Roberts. I was disappointed Petty didn't win but I figured, at that time, that running second at Daytona and that second being to Fireball Roberts was a pretty good outing. I do recall that watching Fireball that day I realized that he was the epitome of a race driver for a track like Daytona. I can still see that Pontiac roaring around those turns as smooth as a silk sheet. Fireball was awesome that day, as he was so many days at Daytona. He came back to win the 250 in July to totally rule Daytona in 1962.

As the memories of that race are so vivid in my mind this morning, I have a lot to smile about. It was as awesome a race as has ever been run at Daytona. It was inconceivable to me that day in 1962, that 52 years later I would be invited to attend the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony by the grandson of Fireball Roberts. Matty McDaniel, said grandson, invited me to the banquet and the ceremony and during that event, videos of that race were shown several times. Watching that number 22 again really took me back to that infield fence on that cool Daytona Sunday in 1962. It was a great feeling!

Honor the past, embrace the present, dream for the future


updated by @tim-leeming: 12/05/16 04:00:58PM
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
02/07/14 11:34:16AM
3,654 posts

Some great pictures from the 1962 Speedweeks have been shared on RacersReunion.

2014 public service announcement reminder: Please remember to title and tag your photos. Doing so makes it much easier for RacersReunion members to search and enjoy the photos you've shared. Selfishly, it also makes it easier for me to quickly find several to complement the racing history minute posts Tim has been sharing over the last 9 months or so.

Bobby Allison's car he raced in the modified sportsman race. Note the creative lettering to incorporate the car number and the car owner's last name. -Jack Walker

Fellow Alabama Gang member Red Farmer entered only 2 GN races in 1962 - Daytona's 100-mile qualifier and the 500.Craig Bontrager

When Lee Petty's career was effectively ended at Daytona in 1961, Petty Enterprises had to man up to keep the company going. The twin 42 and 43 Plymouths returned to Daytona in 1962, and Bunkie Blackburn was hired to pilot Lee's 42. -Robbie Solesbee

Fireball in victory lane -Richard Trivette

A picture of the future King and his 2 year-old son Kyle were used to promote the summer Firecracker 250 with a mention of his 2nd place finish in the 500. -Jerry Bushmire




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TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
02/07/14 11:46:55AM
3,654 posts

Bill Amick wrecked in practice while driving the Wood Brothers 21 Ford. Without a backup, the Woods and Amick were forced to miss the qualifying twin and subsequently the 500 as well. The 21 returned to Daytona the next year, and the team... well, that's the subject of another Tim Leeming post.

fromDavid Staten




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
02/07/14 12:27:49PM
3,654 posts

A few more...

From the modified sportsman race

A great racer's name - Nero Steptoe

Perhaps an even better one - and a driver I'd never heard of - Sad Sam Jones

Sonny Black from Forest Park GA who ran the final couple of laps at DAYTONA after having lost a WHEEL!

Not to be confused with Sonny Black, the mobster, from the great Al Pacino / Johnny Depp movie "Donnie Brasco"

From the 500

RR member Tiger Tom Pistone

Bill Wimble - who made his 4th and final GN start in the 500

Chattanooga, TN's Charley Griffith - he finished 38th in the 1962 500 but 4th in the inaugural one in 1959

Bob Welborn in Julian Petty's Chevy

And perhaps my favorite photo of Cale Yarborough who made his 5th and 6th career GN starts in the twin and the 500

The 1962 Daytona pace car




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
02/07/14 12:29:59PM
8,908 posts
  • Love the memories of your first trip to Daytona, Tim
  • Love the memories you share of your Uncle Bobby and Aunt Mary, Tim

We only get one chance for a "first" trip and it's wonderful so many years later how much we remember of those special days. The getting there and back and the experiences surrounding the race often prove more memorable years later than the race itself. We're lucky you have such a wonderful memory and great things to share, Tim.




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
02/07/14 12:48:27PM
3,654 posts

Race report and full results from the modified sportsman race. So much great detail in this article including:

  • Young Cale Yarborough finishing 2nd despite suffering from what was likely carbon monoxide poisioning
  • Only 10 of 54 cars still running at the finish
  • Yarbrough's winning car being the former M-1 coupe raced by Fireball Roberts
  • LeeRoy winning the race with a fist-size hole in his windshield on the PASSENGER side - after engine shrapnel hit his car
  • Sonny Black gamely finishing the final two laps with only 3 wheels
  • Ken Meahl catching air, spinning on his nose, landing on all fours, and driving away. Made me think of Jimmy Spencer having similar experience at Talladega when he drove the #98 Moly Black Gold car for Travis Carter.
  • LeeRoy Yarbrough reporting to the press box wearing a lavender hat with a pink feather. And we thought TIM RICHMOND was ahead of his time

FromDBMJ

FromDBMJ




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
02/07/14 12:57:37PM
8,908 posts

According to that same Daytona paper, the spectators at the Modified race got a little more than planned during the Air Force Thunderbirds pre-race show:




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"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
02/07/14 01:00:06PM
8,908 posts

NASCAR sanctioned a series of Midget races at Daytona's Memorial Stadium during 1962 SpeedWeeks. Willie Wilson won on February 10, but Mel Kenyon swept three consecutive nights on Feb. 15-17, 1962 as reported in the Daytona paper:




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"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
02/07/14 01:02:21PM
8,908 posts

Anybody see Uncle Bobby's '57 Plymouth or a young Legend in this 1962 Daytona Journal photo?




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
02/07/14 02:41:03PM
3,654 posts

Ha. I had exact same thought when I saw that picture.




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
02/07/14 02:54:47PM
3,654 posts

A Lee Petty protest filed after the conclusion of a race?? Man oh man, that NEVER happened. From DBMJ.

From Spartanburg Herald

In the end, however, the protest was rejected, and Fireball was affirmed as the winner. From DBMJ.




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.

updated by @tmc-chase: 02/15/17 10:15:25PM
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
02/07/14 04:34:29PM
3,654 posts

Race program




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
02/07/14 04:36:45PM
8,908 posts

Brandon Lucas posted the photo below on February 4 on the Facebook site for Bakersfield Tuff Magazine of the Ford powered Studebaker Modified his grandfather, Frank Secrist qualified with on the 1962 Daytona Modified pole.




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
02/07/14 04:43:26PM
8,908 posts

Both the SpeedWeeks NASCAR Midget races and drag races are highlighted on the program cover.




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
bill mcpeek
@bill-mcpeek
02/07/14 05:06:14PM
820 posts

Wonderful story Tim, Made me feel like I was there....Also good to see the picture of my friend Bill Wimble and the # 32 car .....thanks for all you guys do.

TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
02/08/14 11:10:49AM
3,654 posts

Another one from infield along the fence. Maybe Tim can find his crew amongst this bunch. From Daytona Beach News Journal.




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
02/08/14 11:18:02AM
3,654 posts

Another infield shot - but I think this may be down near turn 4 vs. turn 1 where Tim was.




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
02/08/14 11:22:47AM
3,654 posts

Fireball and Little Joe pose with former Miss America following their 'twin wins.




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
02/08/14 11:34:54AM
3,654 posts

Pat Purcell bounced 5 cars from the qualifying twins and subsequently the 500 for not being ready to participate in time trials. David Pearson and Johnny Allen were able to work out another ride for the twins and 500. But Tiger Tom, Whitey Gerken and Tubby Gonzalez did not. None of the 3 raced in either twin or the big show. From DBMJ.




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
02/08/14 11:39:12AM
3,654 posts

Part of Speedweeks - but off premises. Couple of ads from Daytona paper. After running the drags on the DIS backstretch, the events were moved to a nearby airstrip.




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
02/08/14 12:08:46PM
3,654 posts

After getting snookered at the finish line by Little Joe in the inaugural 1961 race of champions event, Fireball pulled the same move a year later to win the second pre-Busch Clash, pre-The Winston, 'all star' race. The race was renamed from the Race Of Champions to the American Challenge Cup Sprint Race. From DBMJ.




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
02/08/14 12:13:16PM
3,654 posts

Short video recap of the 62 500.




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
Dennis  Garrett
@dennis-garrett
02/16/17 08:13:49AM
472 posts

[quote="TMC Chase"]

Race program

[/quote]

After close exam of 1962 Daytona 500 program cover:

Any race history on the NASCAR Midget Races at Daytona International Speedway?

Any race history on the NASCAR Drag Races at Daytona International Speedway?

Wonder if NASCAR Hall of Fame know anything of these races?

Dennis Garrett

Richmond,Va.

TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
02/16/17 10:08:04AM
3,654 posts

From what I can tell, the midget races were at nearby Memorial Stadium - not DIS. They ran 3 nights, and Mel Kenyon swept the main all 3 nights.

(Sorry for the awkward formatting. I'm about to get on the chip about the difficulties in posting here. I've been patient, but frankly I'm sick and tired of wasting my time creating and editing contributions only to have them post as if I have no clue what I'm doing.)

Ad for night 1

1962 Daytona midgets ad 021562DBMJ.png

Ad for night 2

1962 Daytona midgets ad 021662DBMJ.png

Ad for night 3

1962 Daytona midgets ad 021762DBMJ.png

Results for night 2 (couldn't find one for 1st night)

1962 Daytona midgets Kenyon 021762DBMJ.png

Results for night 3

1962 Daytona midgets Kenyon 021862DBMJ.png




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.

updated by @tmc-chase: 02/16/17 10:19:19AM
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
02/16/17 10:25:23AM
3,654 posts

For the drag races, looks like they did indeed run down DIS' backstretch. But I can't find any results from the 2 nights of racing. Guessing the media called it a day after twins and modified-sportsman racing. The area also hosted non-NASCAR sanctioned drags at nearby Spruce Creek Airport. I can't find any results from those races either.

1962 Daytona schedule 021562DBMJ.png

1962 Daytona drags ad 021762DBMJ.png

1962 Daytona drags ad 021662DBMJ.png




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.