UPSET SPECIAL: He Saved a Life, Then Won NASCAR's Biggest Race (Note: This is the fourth installment in a five-part series, "The Top 5 Greatest Daytona 500 Upsets." Previously listed: At No. 5, Pete Hamilton's victory in 1970; at No. 4, Mario ...
He Saved a Life, Then Won NASCAR's Biggest Race
(Note: This is the fourth installment in a five-part series, "The Top 5 Greatest Daytona 500 Upsets." Previously listed: At No. 5, Pete Hamilton's victory in 1970; at No. 4, Mario Andretti's victory in 1967; at No. 3, Ward Burton's victory in 2002.)
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 11, 2007) -- It was a tale worthy of Hollywood. DeWayne "Tiny" Lund came to Daytona Beach in 1963 with no car to drive and mere pennies in his pocket. In fact, he was a spectator that day during practice for Daytona International Speedway's annual sports car race -- it was only 10 days before the Daytona 500 -- when he witnessed a car driven by the great Marvin Panch flip and catch fire.
Lund and several others came to Panch's aid. Lund put his size and strength -- 6-foot-5, 320 pounds -- to good use and yanked Panch out of the burning car. Lund would later receive the Carnegie Medal of Honor for his heroics.
Days later from his hospital bed, Panch instructed his NASCAR car owner Glen Wood to make Lund his replacement for the upcoming 500, even though Lund was winless in 131 previous NASCAR NEXTEL Cup starts.
The stage had been set for the making of some remarkable history.
Daytona 500 Upset No. 2: Tiny Lund, 1963
* The Favorites: Fred Lorenzen, Fireball Roberts, Johnny Rutherford.
* The Intangible: Destiny.
* The Winner's Stats: Started 12th; led 17 laps; average speed 151.566 mph; $24,550 in prize money.
* The Rundown: On Feb. Lund, the definitive NASCAR journeyman, was handed a premier ride and made the most of it. Lund was able to coax excellent fuel mileage out of the No. 21 Ford and ran the entire 500 miles on one set of tires. Race leader Ned Jarrett had to make a fuel stop with eight laps to go, giving the lead to Lund. On the final turn of the final lap, Lund ran out of fuel. He was forced to coast down off the banking, into the tri-oval, finally, past the finish line -- but still finished 24 seconds ahead of Lorenzen, with Jarrett coming in third.
* The Follow-Up: Lund won only four more NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races in his career after his epic 500 victory. While his on-track success was limited, off-track he became one of the sport's most popular drivers because of his personality -- and his extraordinary size. And while his statistics weren't overpowering in NASCAR's top series, he was far more of a force in NASCAR's Late Model Sportsman and Grand American divisions. ... Lund died on Aug. 17, 1975 after a crash at Talladega Superspeedway.