February 22, 1970 – Plymouth Superbird gets first NASCAR win at Daytona 500

Some say the modern era of NASCAR began with the running of the 1970 Daytona 500. By that point, race cars were far less stock than their predecessors as automakers specially designed them for the track. Of course, street legal versions turned up at dealers, as a limited quantity must roll off the assembly lines to qualify for the series. It was one of those limited run cars, an aerodynamic Plymouth Superbird, that chalked its first win at the Daytona 500 ran on this day in 1970. The number 40 car, driven by Pete Hamilton for Petty Enterprises, crossed the finish line three car lengths ahead of David Pearson.

An easy win it was not. Nearly 105,000 fans watched the 200 minute race that featured 24 lead changes. Almost a quarter of the race ran under the caution flag, mostly due to blown engines, including that of Richard Petty. However, one yellow flag few due to Buddy Arrington wrecking his new Dodge Charger Daytona, another MOPAR winged warrior. The wreck sent the car’s wing flying across the track, nearly taking out several other cars. To prevent that from happening again, a new rule mandated wings had to be anchored to the car via a short tether.

wrecked dodge charger daytona
Above: Buddy Arrington’s wrecked Dodge Daytona Charger. Top: Pete Hamilton with his #40 Plymouth Superbird that won the Daytona 500 in 1970. By Skeensss – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

According to RobbReport.com, the 1970 Plymouth Superbird ultimately won 18 NASCAR races, including USAC and ARCA races. In due time, teams pulled the aerocars from on the track as they faced mounting power restrictions to keep the race… interesting. Is NASCAR even stock car racing anymore? In short, no, and it has not been for decades.

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