Yes, that’s a 1964 Pontiac Catalina up there and unfortunately for the car and its driver Bobby Johns it has just blown up. Despite the fact that it was mechanically crippled I wanted to use that image as the lead photo for this blog item because the car is just one of a cavalcade of awesome huge iron that competed that year. Between the awesome cars and the people you will see and hear directly from during this nine minutes of footage from the 1964 Daytona 500 your head will be spinning. Mine was.
Let’s start with the broadcast team. While I don’t know who the lead broadcaster/announcer is I do know who the pit reporters are. Legendary Chris Economaki is one and Sterling Moss is the other one. Yes, that Sterling Moss! We hear from him making a report around the four minute mark while we see and hear from Chris more frequently than that. You’ll see interviews with a 26 year old Richard Petty, a serious Paul Goldsmith, and you will see racers like AJ Foyt, Wendell Scott, Fred Lorenzen, and David Pearson slug it out in cars that we would do bad things to own. The big Catalina is among the coolest cars in our eyes but the Chevys, Fords, and Plymouths are no slouches in that department either.
Richard Petty won the race and he was making laps in the 170mph zone during the contest. For his effort he won $33,300 and a wet kiss from the trophy girl (no shown). In a testament to how good the Plymouths were, Petty led 184 of 200 laps at this race. That is domination supreme!
I am not the biggest stock car racing fan but if they could ever figure out a way to get these cars back into the mix I’d be living in the infield!
One last note. This was not broadcast live. The first time that happened was in 1979 so the network went through a lot of effort for this tape delayed coverage which seems like it was featured on a sports variety show of some kind (Wide World of Sports?) because at one point you will see note flash onto the screen that says, “Coming up: National Ski Jumping Championships”!