50 Years Ago – February 22, 1961
Lee Petty won the 150-mile Cannonball Division race for compact stock cars Sunday at Daytona Int’l Speedway. The former hog farmer from Randleman, N.C., averaged 83.564 mph over a tricky 3.1-mile course. Petty’s Plymouth Valiant was 44 seconds ahead of “Fireball” Roberts’s Pontiac Tempest at the checkered flag.
25 Years Ago – February 19, 1986
Reggie Ruggiero won seven of nine features to claim the modified championship during the annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway in New Smyrna Beach, Fla. Dick Trickle successfully defended his title in the late-model division while Jerry Gradl captured the thundercar crown.
Countdown To 100 – 1996 – Buddy Lazier
In a race shrouded with controversy because of a boycott by CART drivers and teams, 28-year-old Buddy Lazier won the 1996 Indianapolis 500.
Lazier started fifth in the No. 91 Ford-powered Reynard owned by Ron Hemelgarn and beat Davy Jones to the checkered flag by .695 second.
Lazier, who suffered 16 broken bones in his lower back in a March 22 crash at Phoenix Int’l Raceway, didn’t let the pain keep him from victory lane.
“A month ago, I was barely able to walk,” said the happy winner. There were 15 lead changes among five drivers. Lazier led 43 laps, including the final eight.
Newsmaker – David Pearson
David Pearson, the 31-year-old speedster from Spartanburg, S.C., captured his first NASCAR Grand National championship in 1966.
Driving a Dodge prepared by Cotton Owens, Pearson’s accomplishments during the season included victories on both paved and dirt ovals along with the serpentine 2.85-mile road course in Bridgehampton, N.Y.
Pearson started 42 of the 49 Grand National races and recorded 15 victories. He led a total of 3,714 laps and had an average finish of 6.4. The final statistics showed him with 26 top-five finishes and 33 top-10 showings. He failed to finish only eight times. Rookie James Hylton ended up second in the standings followed by Richard Petty.
Chris’s Column – February 8, 1967
“Bill France, who has invested untold thousands of dollars in the Daytona Continental over the years, is beginning to see his dream race coming true. Attendance was at least 50% higher than last year, and the event had, for the first time, a fever that was felt by all those present. A concerted effort will be made next year to lure spectators into the grandstands, where the viewing is far better than in the infield…”