Wednesday, May 22, 2013

May 22, 1966 - Panch wins 600 for and with Petty

May 22, 1966: For the second time in three years, a Petty Plymouth takes the checkers in the World 600 at Charlotte. And for the second time, King Richard ain't cher winnah.

Marvin Panch won the 1966 World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in a #42 Petty Plymouth. The King led six laps but fell out of the race and finished 22nd. When an ailing Panch needed relief help, Richard saddled up in in the 42 and brought the car to the checkers with Panch credited as the winner.

Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers
The King won the pole and set the pace at the green. Former Petty Enterprises teammate, Jim Paschal, flanked him on the front row. Row 2 was Earl Balmer and David Pearson in Cotton Owens' Dodge. Panch started inside of the 4th row in seventh spot. 

 Source: Photobucket - crabber1967

Source: Daytona Beach Morning Journal via Google News Archive
Panch originally was going to sit out out the 600 because of Ford's NASCAR boycott of NASCAR in 1966. He got an offer from Petty Enterprises, however, to to race Richard's year-old car as a teammate to the 43. Panch made the most of the opportunity and took home the trophy with relief help from Richard.

Greg Fielden in his book, Forty Years of Stock Car Racing - Volume 3, wrote:
Panch, member of the Ford factory team since 1962, explained why he discontinued his support of the Ford walkout in a rules hassle. "Lee Petty offered me a ride in his car, so I just had to take it" said Panch. ~ p. 83
David Pearson led 134 of the 400 laps in his Dodge and looked to be in a position to walk the dog on the field. But a right front wheel broke, and Pearson went straight into the fence to end his day.  Paul Goldsmith was the next Mopar driver to have clean air. He led 112 laps before losing the engine in his Ray Nichels-owened Plymouth. With Petty, Pearson, and Goldsmith out of the race, Panch (with help from The King) went to the front and led the final 99 laps.

Photo courtesy of Ray Lamm of
YouTube can often be a wonderful thing. I found some grainy but interesting home video footage of The King taking the checkers and helping Panch earn his victory.

Source: Rome News-Tribune via Google News Archive
Following the race and with Ford's boycott of NASCAR still in place, some speculated Panch may join forces with Petty Enterprises on a more permanent basis. In a pre-Jayski era of rumors, fans and media wondered if he might abandon Ford permanently and race Plymouths for the balance of his career.

Source: The (Hendersonville NC) Times-News via Google News Archive
As it turned out, 1966 was Panch's final season in NASCAR. He ran only seven more races following the 600 to wrap up his career. His final three races were in the #42 Petty Plymouth at Dixie 400 at Atlanta, the Southern 500 at Darlington, and the National 500 at Charlotte. But he also had some memorable finishes with a 4th at Darlington and 6th at Charlotte.

In 1998, Panch was chosen as one of NASCAR's Top 50 Drivers. At the age of 85, Marvin remains alive and well in 2013 and lives in Florida. Though I've never had the opportunity to meet him, I imagine he remains grateful for the chance to race for the Pettys because his win turned out to be the final one of his career.

Credit: The Speedway Club February 8, 2013 tweet

Edited May 22, 2014

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