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1966:

Drivers David Pearson and James Hylton proved best

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Drivers David Pearson and James Hylton proved best during the 49-race NASCAR Cup Series season of 1966. Pearson logged 15 victories and the championship, while Hylton challenged with 20 top-five finishes.

Having been in NASCAR’s premier division for only five seasons, Pearson, a native of Spar- tanburg, South Carolina, had one of his best rides with team owner Cotton Owens, also based in the same city. Pearson drove Owens’ white-and-red No.  6 Dodge in 42 of 49 races but managed to post enough top finishes to score his first-career championship. Ironically, all of his victories that year came on short tracks throughout the Southeast and New England. Pearson logged 25 top-five finishes and fell out of only nine events due to mechanical issues.

Pearson’s biggest victory of the season came at Vir- ginia’s Richmond Raceway in the Capital City 300 on Sept. 11, 1966, where he led 242 of 300 laps.

Hylton, his closest championship rival, had served as a crew chief for Rex White in 1960 before fielding and driving his own Dodge. The native of Inman, South Car- olina, was able to build his season on consistent top-five and top-10 finishes en route to his best championship finish to date. Hylton also finished second in points to Richard Petty in 1967.

Sadly, Hylton was killed in a highway accident earlier this year while traveling home form Alabama’s Talladega  Superspeedway, a track where he won in 1972.

Superstars   Junior Johnson and Ned Jar- rett retired from driving at the end of the 1966 season,  each  having 50 wins to their credit. Johnson  said  years later, “Had I known we were tied, I would have raced a little longer so I could have gotten ahead of him.

1966

PRESIDENT: Lyndon B. Johnson

NO. 1 AT THE BOX OFFICE: The Bible: In The Beginning

NO. 1 SONG: “California Dreamin” by The Mamas & The Papas

POP CULTURE: Screen actor Ronald Reagan is elected Governor of California.

GALLONS OF GAS: 31 cents

BEST DRIVER

DAVID PEARSON, wheeling the No. 6 Dodge owned by Cotton Owens, logged a season-high 15 victories, double the amount of wins by any other driver. His smooth driving style allowed him to save his equipment until the final laps before making his charge to the front. Short tracks proved to be where Pearson shined. His strategy of laying back prompted media outlets to dub him “The Silver Fox” as his hair turned gray during later years.

BEST RACE

ON AUG. 27, 1966, newcomer Bobby Allison battled veteran Curtis Turner in a crowd-stirring, car-smashing event at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Turner hooked Allison’s Chevrolet and spun him out on lap eight of 250. Allison returned the favor, spinning Turner on lap 98. Turner waited on Allison to come back by, but Allison crashed into Turner again. The two made contact twice more before being separated by NASCAR officials.

TOP CAR

DAVID PEARSON drove Cotton Owens’ white-and-red No. 6 Dodge to 15 NASCAR Cup Series victories during the 1966 season. James Hylton’s No. 48 Hylton Racing Dodge had no victories but was a consistent second-place finish in NASCAR Cup Series points.

SEASON RECAP

DATE | LOCATION | WINNER

Nov. 14 | Augusta Speedway | Richard Petty

Jan. 23 | Riverside International Raceway | Dan Gurney

Feb. 25 | Daytona International Speedway | Paul Goldsmith

Feb. 25 | Daytona International Speedway | Earl Balmer

Feb. 27 | Daytona International Speedway | Richard Petty

March 13 | Rockingham Speedway | Paul Goldsmith

March 20 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Dick Hutcherson

March 27 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Jim Hurtubise

April 3 | Hickory Motor Speedway | David Pearson

April 7 | Columbia Speedway | David Pearson

April 9 | Greenville-Pickens Speedway | David Pearson

April 11 | Bowman Gray Stadium | David Pearson

April 17 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | Jim Paschal

April 24 | Martinsville Speedway | Jim Paschal

April 30 | Darlington Raceway | Richard Petty

May 7 | Langley Field Speedway | Richard Petty

May 10 | Middle Georgia Raceway | Richard Petty

May 13 | Starlite Speedway | Darel Dieringer

May 15 | Richmond Raceway | David Pearson

May 22 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Marvin Panch

May 29 | Dog Track Speedway | David Pearson

June 2 | New Asheville Speedway | David Pearson

June 4 | Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds | Elmo Langley

June 9 | Smoky Mountain Raceway | David Pearson

June 12 | Asheville-Weaverville Speedway | Richard Petty

June 15 | Beltsville Speedway | Tiny Lund

June 25 | Greenville-Pickens Speedway | David Pearson

July 4 | Daytona International Speedway | Sam McQuagg

July 7 | Old Dominion Speedway | Elmo Langley

July 10 | Bridgehampton Raceway | David Pearson

July 12 | Oxford Plains Speedway | Bobby Allison

July 14 | Fonda Speedway | David Pearson

July 16 | Islip Speedway | Bobby Allison

July 24 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Paul Goldsmith

July 28 | Smoky Mountain Raceway | Paul Lewis

July 30 | Fairgrounds Speedway | Richard Petty

Aug. 7 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Richard Petty

Aug. 18 | Columbia Speedway | David Pearson

Aug. 21 | Asheville-Weaverville Speedway | Darel Dieringer

Aug. 24 | Beltsville Speedway | Bobby Allison

August 27 | Bowman Gray Stadium | David Pearson

Sept. 5 | Darlington Raceway | Darel Dieringer

Sept. 9 | Hickory Motor Speedway | David Pearson

Sept. 11 | Richmond Raceway | David Pearson

Sept. 18 | Orange Speedway | Dick Hutcherson

Sept. 25 | Martinsville Speedway | Fred Lorenzen

Oct. 2 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | Dick Hutcherson

Oct. 16 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | LeeRoy Yarbrough

Oct. 30 | Rockingham Speedway | Fred Lorenzen

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