Race down memory lane: Daytona 500 time capsule (part 1)

Reporter's Notebook / Daytona 500 / NSBNews.net, 24/7 Internet newspaper

DAYTONA BEACH -- As NASCAR gears up for Sunday's running of the Daytona 500, let's take a look back down memory lane to the previous races at the world center of motor racing: Daytona International Speedway.

1959 winner: Lee Petty

Highlights: It all started in 1959 with a photo finish that had Johnny Beauchamp the unofficial winner before the "official" results three days later had Lee Petty winning. The inaugural race also is noteworthy because several of the drivers were in convertibles, including a young driver named Richard Petty, son of Lee Petty, who lasted all of eight laps. He'd go on to have quite a stellar career, though, winning the 500 a record seven times. The were 59 drivers in the race. The race lasted 3:41:22, with an average speed of 135.521 mph. There were no cautions.

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1960 winner: Junior Johnson

Highlights: Junior Johnson took the race lead on lap 1292 and would not relinquish it as he took the checkered flag in a contest that featured 68 drivers. There were 13 lead changes with the race lasting 3:41:22. The average speed was 135.521 mph. The attendance was 38,775.

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1961 winner: Marvin Panch

Highlights: Marvin Panch took the lead with 13 laps left in the race when teammate Glen "Fireball" Roberts, who had the dominant car all afternoon long suffered a blown engine. There were nine lead changes with the race lasting 3:20:32, with an average speed of 149.601 mph. The race had 58 drivers. Not among them were Lee Petty and Richard Petty. 

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1962 winner: Glen "Fireball" Roberts 

Highlights: Glen "Fireball" Roberts once again had the dominant car, a Pontiac, but this time, he won the Daytona 500, leading 144 of the 200 laps. The race saw the return of Richard Petty who had to settle for second place in a Plymouth. Cale Yarborough made his devbut, finishing last among 48 drivers. The race took 3:10:41 with 22 lead changes and an average speed of 152.529 mph. 

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1963 winner: Tiny Lund 

Highlights: Tiny Lund ran out of gas on the 4th turn of the final lap, but was able to cost his way across the finish line for the victory. The race included 50 drivers with an average speed of 151.566 mph. 50 drivers . There were two caution flags for 10 laps in a race that took 3:17:56. There were 29 lead changes.

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1964 winner: Richard Petty 

Highlights: Richard Petty was too strong for the field of 46 in his Plymouth to claim his second Daytona 500. Petty led the final 149 laps. The average speed was 154.334 mph in a race that took 3:14:23. David Pearson was his closest competitor, but a blown tire forced him out of the race. with a wrecked vehicle.

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1965 winner: Fred Lorenzen 

Highlights: With 1964 season racing deaths of Joe Weatherly, Glen "Fireball" Roberts, and Jimmy Pardue, the 1965 Daytona 500 was run with safety features that included a mandatory shoulder harness and netting on the dribver's side and stronger bars inside. Fred Lorenzen beat 42 other drivers in a rain-shortened race of 133 laps. The average speed was 141.539 and took 2:22:56.

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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet newspaper serving the Daytona Beach-New Smyrna Beach / Sanford-Orlando metropolitan region via HeadlineSurfer.com, launched in 2008, as Florida's first around-the-clock online newspaper. Frederick is among Florida's most experienced reporters specializing in breaking news & investigative reporting and winner of multiple state, regional & national journalism awards in Florida, New York, Massachusetts & Connecticut. The first of his three books, "Creepy Ass Cracker" (842 pages, Xlibris), hits bookstores this Fall. 
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