1962 Firecracker 250 (lost ABC footage of NASCAR Grand National Series race; 1962)

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1962firecracker2501.jpg

Fireball Roberts (22) facing off against David Pearson (6).

Status: Lost

The 1962 Firecracker 250 was the 29th race of the 1962 NASCAR Grand National Series. Occurring on 4th July at the Daytona International Speedway, the race would ultimately be won by 1962 Pontiac driver Fireball Roberts. Roberts became the first driver to win the Daytona 500 and Firecracker 250 in the same year.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1962 Firecracker 250 was the fourth running of the event, with its name a reference to the fact it was held on the United States' Independence Day.[1] It was also the fourth 1961 NASCAR Grand National Series event to be held at Daytona International Speedway,[2] after the Twin 125s and the Daytona 500, which in 1962 occurred on 26th February and was won by Roberts.[3] The Firecracker 250 also has ties to the modern Coke Zero Sugar 400 race, having dropped the Firecracker name in 2019.[1]

Prior to the race, qualifying occurred, with Banjo Matthews winning the pole position after breaking the two-lap time trial record in his 1962 Pontiac.[4][5] Bobby Johns and Johnny Allen, also in 1962 Pontiacs, qualified second and third respectively, ahead of Roberts in fourth. Richard Petty, driving a 1962 Plymouth, qualified 11th.[5] Heading into the event, his goal was to win the race for his two-year-old son, Kyle.[6]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1962 Firecracker 250 occurred on 4th July. Roberts made a great start, taking the lead on the first lap. However, he would be quickly passed by Matthews, and for the first 73 laps, Matthews and Johns would primarily duel for the lead, contributing to eight of the 14 lead changes. On lap 6, Petty crashed out, bringing out the first caution. On lap 34, the other caution occurred when a multicar crash involving the Pontiacs of Joe Weatherly and LeeRoy Yarbrough, and the Fords of Fred Lorenzen and Nelson Stacy, forcing all out of the race. Matthews was still leading by lap 73, but after holding out 32 consecutive laps, he retired after experiencing an engine failure. From that point, Johns and Roberts duelled, only for the latter to retire on lap 82 following transmission issues.[5]

With Johns also out, Roberts' only challenger appeared to be fellow 1962 Pontiac driver Junior Johnson. Ultimately, Roberts held out for the remaining laps to claim victory and $9,850 in prize money.[7][5] Johnson was the only other driver on the lead lap, with Marvin Panch in a 1962 Ford finishing third two laps down from the leaders.[5] For Roberts, this would be his second Firecracker victory, later winning the expanded Firecracker 400 in 1963. He was also the first driver to win both the Daytona 500 and Firecracker 250 in the same year.[8]

Availability[edit | edit source]

It has been confirmed that ABC broadcast 45 minutes of highlights for the race on 15th July 1962, as part of a double-header with the British Open Golf Championship.[9] But while confirmation has been achieved, no footage of the race is known to be publicly available.[10] Back in the 1960s, tapes of recorded television events were usually wiped and reused due to the immense cost of storing them.[11] Nevertheless, there is a slim chance that older NASCAR broadcasts might still be available in kinetoscope form.[12]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Images[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]