Tuesday, February 14, 2012

February 14 - This day in Petty history

♥ Happy Valentine's Day! ♥

1971 - Richard Petty wins his third Daytona 500 to land his 120th career victory. At that time, no driver had won the 500 twice - much less three times.

Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers
Bobby W, a fellow member at RacersReunion.com, remembers...
My dad took me to Daytona for the 500 in '71. He claimed we could "camp in the parking lot ... with sleeping bags ... because it NEVER gets cold in Florida." Let me just say LOL!!! Me and my best friend both took our bags and both "slept" on the gravel parking lot outside of turn 4 while dad and co. slept in the rental car ... as a February cold front of biblical proportions rolled into northern Florida. With cloudless skies reigning, the next day's Permatex 300 was run under frigid conditions with a sustained wind of about 30 MPH and higher gusts. It was all me and (my brave best friend) could muster to stand in the back of a Ranchero in the infield and watch the race won by Red Farmer. With nightly temperatures plummeting we (miraculously) found the absolute last boarding house in all of Florida and all 12 or so in our party staggered in the one-room efficiency and happily slept on the floor. Next day the 500. The winds had died somewhat, and as the only factory-backed team left in NASCAR Richard Petty and A.J. Foyt (Wood Bros. #21) dueled most of the race until Foyt encountered some type of problem ... might have been a pit stop, can't remember, but Richard cruised home to victory, his 3rd Daytona 500.
As Bobby referenced, Petty's chief rival in the race was A.J. Foyt. A troublesome pit stop late in race put him a lap down. He was able to pass Petty to unlap himself, but he had to settle for third. Buddy Baker finished second in a team Petty Dodge.

After Petty Enterprises ran twin Plymouth Superbirds for Petty and Pete Hamilton in 1970, the Chrysler Corporation revised the strategy for its factory-support of the Petty teams. Richard continued to run the familiar Petty Blue #43 Plymouth. Hamilton left the team, and Baker was hired to replace him. Baker ran a solid white #11 Petty Enterprises Dodge Charger.

Courtesy of Smyle Media
The big mystery to me over the years has been why #11 was chosen as the number for Baker's Dodge rather than something in the 40's as was typical for Petty cars.

In this shot, some of the cars have been pushed to the starting grid. Foyt on the pole, Bobby Isaac starting 2nd (not shown), former Petty driver Pete Hamilton in Cotton Owens' #6 Plymouth starting 3rd, David Pearson in 4th (not shown), Petty in 5th, Baker in 6th (not shown), and #98 Lee Roy Yarbrough in 7th.

TMC edit: Just realized the following pic is from the first 125-mile qualifying race three days earlier. Foyt on the pole, former Petty driver Pete Hamilton in Cotton Owens #6 Plymouth starting 2nd, Petty in 3rd, Fred Lorenzen in 4th (not shown), and #98 Lee Roy Yarbrough in 5th.

Credit to and courtesy of Al Consoli
The winning Plymouth pulls into Victory Lane...

...and to the victor belongs the spoils. (Although clearly nothing is spoiled in this photo.)

Above two photos courtesy of Ray Lamm
For contemporary fans who have always watched NASCAR races on FOX or ESPN, it hasn't always been that way. Few races were televised. A handful were condensed and packaged into a weekly 'magazine' show. Some races were big enough to merit inclusion in ABC's Wide World of Sports ... albeit on a delayed and heavily edited basis.

Announcer Keith Jackson covered the introductions, and Chris Economaki provided the color commentary. Below recaps the start of the race, a spectacular lap 9 wreck by Maynard Troyer, and the finish between the Petty cars and Foyt.

And an extended segment on Troyer's accident...

Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire

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