1970 DAYTONA 500 winner Pete Hamilton died Wednesday at the age of 74.
Hamilton started 64 races from 1968 and 1973, in what is now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, winning four times at Daytona and Talladega, respectively.
The New Englander won the 1967 NASCAR Late Model Sportsman Championship and captured the ’68 Cup Series Rookie of the Year award. He also won the 1974 Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.
Hamilton won his Daytona 500 for Petty Enterprises and won after Richard Petty fell out of contention due to a failed engine just seven laps into the race.
Hamilton passed David Pearson with nine laps to go and barely held him off before the checkered flag. As this happened during a time before radio communication became the norm, Hamilton took an extra lap around the track because he wasn’t totally sure he had won.
Hamilton’s high-speed NASCAR career was cut short in 1971 due to a neck injury but he moonlighted in local racing for much of the next decade. In addition to his own driving career, Hamilton became equally famous for the chassis he built and design. He also built a seven-building warehouse and office complex in suburban Atlanta that he owned up until his death.
“We ran two cars in 1970, and Plymouth helped introduce us to Pete,” former teammate Richard Petty said. “They wanted us to run a second car with him on the bigger tracks. Chief (Maurice Petty) led that car and started in the Daytona 500. Pete and Chief won the race, and it was a big deal. Pete won both Talladega races that year. It was great to have Pete as part of the team. He was a great teammate. We send our prayers to his family.”