Early in the 1962 NASCAR Grand National season, General Motors was racking up impressive numbers in the victory column. GM won 18 of the first 20 races, 12 by Pontiac. Plymouth scored twice and Ford had a big zero. In June 1962, Ford Motor Co. president Henry Ford II announced his company was stepping out of the 1957 Automobile Manufacturers Association ban on NASCAR participation and would actively -- and publicly -- be involved in NASCAR racing.
NASCAR president Bill France greeted the Ford announcement with enthusiasm and approval. Veteran driver Buck Baker, who won the 1956 and 1957 NASCAR Grand National championships while a member of factory teams, said a full-scale return to racing by the factory teams would mean "a better sport, better equipment, better pay, and a better show. All the top drivers would be bidded for, just like baseball players."
You can learn about
these events and more in the following article, from season highlights
to the year's final standings, all packed with plenty of photos.
February 18, 1962: Daytona 500
Fireball Roberts leads 144 of the 200 laps in his overwhelming triumph in the fourth annual Daytona 500. Roberts caps off a perfect Speedweeks, winning the American Challenge invitational event for winners of 1961 events, the pole position for the 500, the Twin 100-mile qualifier, and the Daytona 500. Richard Petty, who finishes second, protests Roberts' win, claiming the Yunick's team used more than six pit crewmen during the race. Roberts' win is upheld three days later.
Veteran West Coast racer Bill Amick landed the Wood Brothers ride for the Feb. 18 Daytona 500. The coveted assignment was short-lived as Amick crashed and flipped the car in a practice session. The Wood Brothers didn't have a backup car ready to run, so the formidable team had to forego NASCAR's premier event. See more pictures of NASCAR.
Jimmy Pardue rallies in the late stages, passes Rex White, and motors to victory in the 66.7-mile event at Richmond's Southside Speedway. Pardue pockets only $550 for his first NASCAR Grand National victory.
May 27, 1962: World 600
Nelson Stacy, driving a Ford, overtakes David Pearson with eight laps to go and scores a big victory in the third annual World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Pearson is headed for his second straight 600 win when the engine in his Pontiac blows in the final laps.
June 11, 1962
Ford Motor Co. announces that it will actively support selected NASCAR Grand National racing teams, breaking from the 1957 resolution established by the American Manufacturers Association.
Number 21 Marvin Panch and #72 Bobby Johns buzz past Maurice Petty's #41 Plymouth during Bristol's Volunteer 500 on April 29. Johns went on to win the 500-lapper, his second NASCAR Grand National victory. Petty made a brief stab at a driving career, running 26 NASCAR Grand National races from 1960 to 1964. While he did record 16 top-10 finishes, Petty preferred the role of engine builder and crew chief. He placed 21st in the 500-lapper at Bristol.
Veteran driver Johnny Allen scores his first career NASCAR Grand National victory in the 50-mile race at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem. Allen edges Rex White by six inches, then crashes over the wall after taking the checkered flag. There is more damage to Allen's Pontiac than the winner's prize of $580 will cover.
July 4, 1962: Firecracker 250
Fireball Roberts continues his mastery of Daytona International Speedway by winning the Firecracker 250. Speedway officials announce the July 1963 race will be lengthened to 400 miles.
The Convertible cars made their final NASCAR appearance at the May 12, 1962, Rebel 300 at Darlington Raceway. Nelson Stacy, driving for the Holman-Moody Ford team, went into the record books as the winner of the final ragtop race. Marvin Panch finished a close second in the #21 Wood Brothers Ford. Stacy was added to the Holman-Moody Ford team in 1961 and won three races for Ford as Fred Lorenzen teammate in 1962.
Joe Weatherly captures the 100-mile Grand National at Savannah Speedway. African-American driver Wendell Scott earns his first career pole position in qualifications and finishes eighth.
August 21, 1962
Richard Petty wins the 100-mile race at Spartanburg's Hub City Speedway. It is the sixth consecutive victory for the Petty Enterprises Plymouth team. Teammate Jim Paschal has won two of the races, while Richard Petty has bagged four wins during the streak.
Number 3 David Pearson, #28 Fred Lorenzen, and #47 Jack Smith speed past the frontstretch grandstands during the early stages of the Firecracker 250. Pearson, the defending champion of the race, finished in eighth place. Smith finished fourth, and Lorenzen was sidelined in a collision on the 35th lap.
Larry Frank is declared the winner of the Southern 500 almost five hours after the checkered flag dropped in the Labor Day event. Junior Johnson had been flagged the winner, but after a check of the scorecards, Frank is given credit for his first NASCAR Grand National win.
September 16, 1962
Fred Lorenzen drives a Ford owned by 19-year-old Mamie Reynolds to victory in the 100-mile NASCAR Grand National event at Augusta Speedway in Georgia. Reynolds is the daughter of U.S. Senator Robert R. Reynolds, and is the first female car owner to win a race.
Joe Weatherly's Pontiac is serviced by the Bud Moore pit crew in the Southeastern 500. Weatherly finished sixth and maintained his advantage in the NASCAR Grand National points race. The former Motorcycle champion captured the 1962 NASCAR championship on the strength of nine wins in 52 starts. Amazing consistency contributed to Weatherly's title run as he finished out of the top 10 only seven times.
Nelson Stacy steers clear of mechanical mayhem to win the Old Dominion 500 at Martinsville. Fireball Roberts and Fred Lorenzen provided fireworks while battling for the lead in the early stages. Lorenzen had bumped Roberts several times until, finally, Fireball jammed on the brakes. Lorenzen hit Roberts at top speed and retired with a broken radiator.
October 28, 1962: Dixie 400
Rex White drives his Chevrolet into the lead three laps from the finish and nips Joe Weatherly in a frantic duel to win the Dixie 400 at Atlanta. The win is White's first on a superspeedway. Weatherly wraps up his first NASCAR Grand National championship in the season finale.
Continue on to the next page to learn the full results of the 1962 NASCAR Grand National season.
For more information on all things NASCAR, see:
- NASCAR Home Page
- NASCAR Season Recaps
- NASCAR Tracks
- NASCAR Results
- NASCAR Drivers
- How NASCAR Race Cars Work
- How the Daytona 500 Works