The 1981 Daytona 500 marked the debut of the so called “little” cars, with a 110-inch wheelbase as opposed to the 115 inches on the old reliable Monte Carlos and Cutlasses most teams had been running for years. The teams and drivers approached that year’s event with a large degree of trepidation.
Richard Petty and David Pearson arrived at Daytona Beach in February of 1976 with some unsettled business. It was the year of this country’s Bicentennial and NASCAR’s fireworks started at Daytona that afternoon, late in the race.
Defending Daytona 500 champion Pete Hamilton won the first 125-mile qualifier race of ’71 in his new ride, a Plymouth out of Cotton Owens’s shop. Also in the race was Fred Lorenzen, attempting a comeback in a Plymouth sponsored by STP.
The Hemi Chryslers had dominated the 1964 Daytona Speedweeks, but it was a very different picture when the 1965 event rolled around. The big Hemis had been outlawed, and Chrysler was boycotting NASCAR racing.
The inaugural Daytona 500 of 1959 had been a huge success with blistering speeds and nary a caution to mar the proceedings, so as the Grand National circuit prepared for their second visit to Bill France’s high-banked monument to speed in 1960, everyone was hoping for more of the same. Instead, the second version of the Great American Race brought with it a bit of a reality check.
Dale Earnhardt seemed destined to finally win the race that had eluded him through his entire career after dominating the event, leading 155 of 200 laps. However, the black No. 3 GM Goodwrench Lumina wobbled up the racetrack and slowed, clearing the way for relative unknown Derrike Cope from Spanaway, Wash. to capture his first career victory in NASCAR’s biggest race.
To those drivers slated to run in the very first Daytona 500, their first glimpse of the brand new speedway must have been awe inspiring. When Bill France Sr. first proposed a 2.5-mile racetrack with high-banked corners, more than a few people scoffed that it would never be built, and some even said it couldn’t …
For 10 years before the first Daytona 500 was held at Bill France’s magnificent new superspeedway, NASCAR’s Grand National Division ran on the storied old beach and road course in Daytona Beach, in what was considered the biggest event on the tour’s calendar.
On August 20, 1994, NASCAR nearly lost Ernie Irvan to a horrific crash at Michigan. Irvan doesn’t remember the crash that day, nor does he remember the three weeks following the crash, but everyone who was a NASCAR fan then probably remembers it like it happened yesterday.
in light of a debate I’ve seen in a couple of other venues, I decided to compare Jimmie Johnson’s stellar 2006 NASCAR championship campaign with some of the greatest championship seasons of all-time to see where it stacks up.