1964 National 400 (lost footage of NASCAR Grand National Series race; 1964)

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The critical moment in the race where Richard Petty crashes out, handing the win to Fred Lorenzen.

Status: Lost

The 1964 National 400 was the 59th race of the 1964 NASCAR Grand National Series. Occurring on 18th October at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, the race would ultimately be won by Fred Lorenzen in a 1964 Ford, after 1964 Plymouth driver Richard Petty crashed out from the lead near the event's end.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1964 National 400 was the 5th running of the event, with the race typically being around 400 miles in length during this time period.[1] It was one of two 1964 Grand National Series races conducted at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the other being the World 600,[2] which in 1964 occurred on 24th May and was won by Jim Paschal in a 1964 Plymouth.[3] The race also has ties to the modern Bank of America Roval 400, having dropped the National name from 1983 onwards.[4] Charlotte Motor Speedway had experienced two tragedies in 1964, when Fireball Roberts was killed following an accident at the World 600,[5] while Jimmy Pardue perished following a crash during a Goodyear tyre test in September.[6][7] Nevertheless, the drivers carried on racing as they revisited the circuit for the National 400.[7]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Richard Petty winning the pole position with a speed of 151.101 mph.[8][1][7] Directly behind him was fellow 1964 Plymouth driver Paul Goldsmith, while Fred Lorenzen placed third.[1][7] Petty's pole speed set a record for being the fastest for closed courses around the size of Charlotte International Speedway.[8] Hence, he was considered the clear favourite to win the race, with other drivers accepting he had the fastest car.[8] Nevertheless, speed in general was expected to increase as the circuit had being enhanced with two-inches of asphalt that was laid onto the third and fourth turns.[8] On-paper, this would allow drivers to increase their speed by almost 5mph, with drivers noting they could hold backstretch speeds for longer before they had to slow down prior to the third turn.[8]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1964 National 400 occurred on 18th October.[1] Goldsmith shot into the lead on the first lap, but Petty was able to recapture the first position a lap later, holding onto it for 27 laps before dropping it back to Goldsmith.[1] With the exception of one lap led by 1964 Plymouth driver Jim Paschal, the lead was contested exclusively by Petty, Goldsmith, and Lorenzen.[1] Goldsmith had led 71 laps by the time he was again overtaken by lap 136.[1] Ultimately, he would drop out of contention on lap 202 following an engine failure, also ending up crashing while exiting the second turn.[9][1]

Lorenzen meanwhile had only led five laps as the race entered its closing stages.[1] However, he was a constant presence for leader Petty for the final 65 laps, making numerous attempts to overtake The King.[7] It seemed though that Petty was too quick, and was seemingly set to win the event.[10] However, on lap 265, both cars entered turn 3, only for Petty's Plymouth to suddenly veer to the right after experiencing a right front tyre failure.[10][7] It slammed into the guardrail,[9] which caused the Plymouth to be slammed into the air.[10] This proved to be harrowing for fans in attendance, as Pardue had perished by hitting the same guardrail.[7][11] Ultimately, Petty, while shaken, was unhurt as the Plymouth was not inverted and coasted slowly onto the inside track to retire.[7] He later claimed that Lorenzen would not have been able to pass him, stating he was also pulling away prior to the crash.[10] Petty ultimately would experience a winless streak at Charlotte events, eventually winning one when he succeeded at the 1975 World 600.[7]

Meanwhile, Lorenzen completed the final two laps under caution to claim victory and $11,755 in prize money.[9][10][11][7][1] Post-race, Lorenzen disagreed with Petty's comments, claiming that his car was stronger than Petty's at the finish, and he was just waiting until the final laps his move.[10] He also credited the inclusion of double guard-rails, welded joints and closer telephone phones as the reasons how Petty was prevented from going through the guardrail in the same area that claimed the life of Pardue.[10][11] Paschal finished second, a lap down from the winner, while Petty had done well enough to be classified third.[1][7]

Availability[edit | edit source]

According to NASCAR on TV, highlights of the race were broadcast by ABC on 24th October 1964 as part of its Wide World of Sports alongside the World Lumberjack Championships.[12] However, this broadcast has yet to publicly resurface, and no footage of the race is currently available. However, photos and newspaper clippings help to document the event.[7]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Images[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Racing-Reference detailing qualifying and race results for the event. Retrieved 11 Mar '22
  2. Racing-Reference detailing the 1964 NASCAR Grand National Series calendar. Retrieved 11 Mar '22
  3. Racing-Reference detailing the results of the 1964 World 600. Retrieved 11 Mar '22
  4. The New York Times Stats detailing the history of the National 400 and when its name was dropped. Retrieved 11 Mar '22
  5. The New York Times reporting on Roberts' death following his crash at the 1964 World 600. Retrieved 11 Mar '22
  6. Eugene Register Guard reporting on the death of Pardue (report found on Bench-Racing). Retrieved 11 Mar '22
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 Bench-Racing detailing the qualifying and race, and the tragedies heading into the second Charlotte race. Retrieved 11 Mar '22
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Daytona Beach Morning Journal reporting on Petty winning the pole position (report found on Bench-Racing). Retrieved 11 Mar '22
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Spartanburg Herald reporting on Lorenzen winning the race following Petty's crash and Goldsmith's engine failure (report found on Bench-Racing). Retrieved 11 Mar '22
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 Spartanburg Herald reporting on Lorenzen winning the race and his and Petty's comments (report found on Bench-Racing). Retrieved 11 Mar '22
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Spartanburg Herald reporting on Lorenzen winning the race and Petty's crash (report found on Bench-Racing). Retrieved 11 Mar '22
  12. NASCAR on TV detailing the ABC broadcast of the event. Retrieved 11 Mar '22