For the 1963 NASCAR Grand National season, NASCAR established a new set of rules to address the potential of unlimited engineering by the factories. For one, a 428 cubic inch limit on engine displacement was put into effect. By limiting the cid, NASCAR could keep the factories in check and keep the present components from becoming obsolete.
Regardless, Ford started the 1963 Grand National campaign with a bang, finishing 1-2-3-4-5 in the celebrated Daytona 500. Fireball Roberts and Joe Weatherly, who had been the dominant drivers for Pontiac in 1961 and 1962, simply couldn't keep up with the speedier Fords and Chevys. In the meantime, "Golden Boy" Fred Lorenzen, the lead driver for the Holman-Moody Ford team, was racking up big prizes and collecting lots of handsome trophies for his deeds in speed.
By midseason, Fireball Roberts and Joe Weatherly had abandoned the
sinking Pontiac ship and joined Ford -- Roberts as a teammate with
Lorenzen, and Weatherly in the Bud Moore Mercury effort. 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.
January 20, 1963
Dan Gurney outduels A.J. Foyt to win the 500-mile NASCAR Grand National race on the Riverside, Calif., road course. The race is a grueling affair that takes nearly six hours to complete.
Fred Lorenzen and Tiny Lund get the green flag at the start of the second Twin 100-mile qualifier at Daytona. Lorenzen led in the early stages before Johnny Rutherford took charge in the late stages. Lund, taking his first ride in the Wood Brothers Ford, finished sixth. See more pictures of NASCAR.
Johnny Rutherford takes the lead with five laps remaining and wins the second Twin 100-mile qualifying race at Daytona. Rutherford becomes only the sixth driver to win in his first career NASCAR Grand National start.
February 24, 1963: Daytona 500
DeWayne "Tiny" Lund, filling in for the injured Marvin Panch, drives the Wood Brothers Ford to victory in the Daytona 500. Lund leads a 1-2-3-4-5 sweep for the Ford nameplate. The lead changes hands five times in the final 17 laps.
After a discussion with his brothers, team owner Glen Wood chose Tiny Lund to drive the Daytona 500. The Wood brothers were asked : "If you were in the lead late in the race, who would you rather not see in your rear view mirror?" The brothers agreed that Lund, known for his tenacity, would be the man other drivers would fear the most.
Fireball Roberts outruns teammate Fred Lorenzen to win the Southeastern 500 at Bristol. Roberts' victory ride comes in his first start with the Holman-Moody Ford team.
May 11, 1963: Rebel 300
Joe Weatherly prevails in a confusing, two-part running of the Rebel 300 at Darlington Raceway. The race is run in a doubleheader format, with Weatherly winning the opening 150-miler and Richard Petty taking the second half. A complicated points system is used to determine the race winner. Weatherly edges Fireball Roberts by 6.1 points.
June 2, 1963: World 600
Fred Lorenzen takes the lead with four laps to go and wins the World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Junior Johnson's bid for victory is foiled when he blows a tire while holding a narrow lead over Lorenzen.
Number 21 Tiny Lund and #11 Ned Jarrett battle in close quarters in the late stages of the Daytona 500. Jarrett was forced to take on fuel with three laps to go, leaving Lund to coast home to an uncontested victory. Lund drove the entire 500 miles on one set of tires, and made one less pit stop than his rivals. The triumph was Lund's first in nine years of competing in the NASCAR Grand Nationals.
Cagey Fireball Roberts swoops under Fred Lorenzen on the final lap and wins the frantic Firecracker 400 at Daytona. Roberts edges Lorenzen and Marvin Panch in a three-car finish. The lead changes hands 39 times among six drivers.
July 13, 1963
Glen Wood edges Ned Jarrett to win the 200-lap NASCAR Grand National race at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. Lee Petty, making his first start since his bad accident at Daytona in 1961, finishes a strong fourth.
July 21, 1963
Richard Petty drives his Plymouth to his first career road-course victory in the 100-mile race at Bridgehampton Race Circuit on Long Island. Petty leads all but two laps.
Number 8 Joe Weatherly and #41 Jim Paschal start on the front row for the March 10 NASCAR Grand National race at Hillsboro. Twenty-three cars started the 165-lap race on the 0.9-mile dirt track. Junior Johnson, who started on the outside of the second row, drove his Chevrolet to victory. An estimated crowd of 15,000 jammed the wooden grandstands and packed the spacious infield.
Junior Johnson leads from start to finish and wins the International 200 at Bowman Gray Stadium. The race is open to foreign cars, but only one makes the field -- an MG that Smokey Cook drives to a 17th-place finish.
September 2, 1963: Southern 500
Fireball Roberts breezes into the lead in the late stages and wins the Southern 500 at Darlington. Roberts averages a record 129.784 mph in the caution-free event, the only nonstop Southern 500 in history. Third-place finisher Fred Lorenzen tops the $100,000 mark for season earnings, making him the first to reach six digits in winnings.
Johnny Allen survived this spectacular tumble outside Atlanta International Raceway in the June 30 Dixie 400. A tire blew on Allen's Ford, sending him over the guardrail. The engine was ripped from the chassis and landed more than 100 feet from the car. Miraculously, Allen only suffered a cut on his nose.
Marvin Panch, on the comeback trail after suffering serious injuries at Daytona in February, wheels the Wood Brothers Ford to victory in the Wilkes 250 at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Panch leads the final 49 laps to score his first win since the 1961 Daytona 500.
October 13, 1963: National 400
Junior Johnson's white #3 Chevrolet spanks the field to win the National 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The victory is the seventh of the season for Johnson and team-owner Ray Fox, who have announced they will move from the Chevrolet camp to Dodge in 1964.
November 3, 1963
Darel Dieringer posts a major upset by driving his Bill Stroppe Mercury to victory in the season finale at Riverside, Calif. It is Dieringer's first NASCAR Grand National win. Joe Weatherly, who drives for nine different teams during the course of the season, is declared the NASCAR Grand National champion.
Continue on to the next page to learn the full results of the 1963 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