Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

The Top 10 Daytona 500s Ever

The 1962 Daytona 500
"Fireball" Roberts will always be remembered for his exciting win in the 1962 Daytona 500.
"Fireball" Roberts will always be remembered for his exciting win in the 1962 Daytona 500.
©Ford Motorsports History via Wieck

Winner: Glen "Fireball" Roberts

Margin of victory: 27 seconds

Why it's No. 10: "Fireball" Roberts -- who acquired his nickname not for his skill as a racer but rather for the flaming fastballs he threw as a high school baseball player -- was among the original superstars of NASCAR.

Known for his flare on the track, Roberts was a frequent winner in the 1950s and early 1960s – except, ironically, when he raced in his hometown of Daytona Beach, Florida. In 1955, he finished first on the Daytona beach course but was disqualified because of a mechanical technicality. In 1961, he was running away with the Daytona 500, but his day ended abruptly when his car's engine blew.

In the 1962 Daytona 500, however, he wouldn't be denied. After dining on his favorite pre-race meal, a bologna sandwich, Fireball strapped himself into his car and rolled onto the track for some payback.

The race came down to a spirited two-car battle between Fireball and a young upstart named Richard Petty. Ultimately, Roberts pulled away and won by 27 seconds. Petty would go on to win a record 200 NASCAR races; Roberts, meanwhile, died tragically in 1964 after a gruesome crash in the World 600 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

On February 18, 1962, however, time stood still. It was the day Roberts beat a legend-in-the-making and finally left a lasting mark on his hometown.

More to Explore