The date of this year’s Daytona 500 is an important landmark for Ford and Wood Brothers Racing. The green flag for this year’s“Great American Race” marks the 50th anniversary of the day substitute driver Tiny Lund drove a 1963 Ford Galaxie built by Leonard Wood to the Blue Oval’s first Daytona 500 win in 1963.
The odds were undeniably against him. Lund was only in the seat because the Woods’ regular driver, Marvin Panch, who had already qualified the Wood Brothers’ Ford for the Daytona 500, was injured trying to set a speed record in a sports car at the track 10 days before the race.
Panch, who lost control of the car in turn three, was pinned inside until Glen Wood, NASCAR official Johnny Bruner, crewmen and drivers, including Lund, ran to free him as the car caught fire. Incredibly, it was Lund – the strongest of the rescuers – who was able to pull Panch away from the wreck. He was awarded the Carnegie Medal of Honor for the rescue.
Losing a driver 10 days before the race co...