NASCAR Classics: Races to watch before the 2024 Daytona 500

Cars race on Daytona Beach.
NASCAR Research & Archives Center
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Throughout the 2024 NASCAR season, Ken Martin, director of historical content for the sanctioning body, will offer his suggestions on which historical races fans should watch from the NASCAR Classics library in preparation for each upcoming race weekend.

Martin has worked for NASCAR exclusively since 2008 but has been involved with the sport since 1982, overseeing various projects. He worked in the broadcast booth for hundreds of races, assisting the broadcast team with different tasks. This includes calculating the “points as they run” for the historic 1992 finale – the Hooters 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The following suggestions are Ken’s picks to watch before the 2024 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

1951 Daytona Beach and Road Course

This is the oldest footage of a narrated, documentary-style edited race in the NASCAR Classics archive.

Fifty-five drivers arrived at Daytona Beach to kick off the 1951 season, just the third campaign in NASCAR history.

From Lee Petty to Curtis Turner … to Tim Flock, Buck Baker, Herb Thomas and Fireball Roberts, the field was full of Hall-of-Fame-caliber drivers looking to capture the victory. When the checkered flag finally waved, it was Marshall Teague – a former Daytona Beach gas station mechanic – out in front.

Teague, who was named NASCAR’s first treasurer at its first organizational meeting in 1947, had previous success at the track, too. He was credited with leading the first lap during the first race on the course in 1948.

He was victorious while driving his “Fabulous” Hudson Hornet, the first driver to ever win a race in a Hudson. Teague’s early-season triumph led to a streak of momentum for the driver as he went on to win four of the next nine races he entered.

1958 Daytona Beach and Road Course

Two cars speed down the Daytona Beach Road Course, in front of a throng of onlookers

The 10th and final race on the Daytona Beach and Road Course came on Feb. 23, 1958.

Paul Goldsmith, driving the No. 3 for legendary car owner Smokey Yunick, held off Turner for his sixth career victory.

Goldsmith’s victory marked the fourth time in five races at the track that the polesitter finished the race in Victory Lane.

He also became just the second driver in the track’s history to lead the race at Daytona from start to finish.

1964 Daytona 500

Richard Petty smiles while holding his 1964 Daytona 500 winning trophy

A 26-year-old Richard Petty captured his first of an eventual record-setting seven Daytona 500 victories in 1964.

Petty surprised many with his dominant effort as he led 184 of the race’s 200 laps en route to Victory Lane. It was his 29th career victory, with most of his previous wins coming on short tracks.

His Hemi-powered No. 43 Plymouth’s dominance in the event also started a horsepower war. It was the first race for the new engine and drivers with a Hemi under their hood combined to lead 198 of the race’s 200 laps.

Plymouth’s also captured the first three finishing positions as Jimmy Pardue came home second, while Goldsmith was third.

The victory came during Petty’s first championship season, finally prevailing after previously finishing second in points three times previously.

You can watch these three races and hundreds more by visiting NASCAR Classics.