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1963:

Weatherly Drives for 9 Owners

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By Ben White

Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Joe Weatherly was best known for winning a second consecutive title in 1963 while bumming rides with nine team owners. He notched three wins and 35 top-10 finishes that season.

Weatherly was riding high during the winter months between seasons, having won the 1962 Cup Series title with team owner Bud Moore. However, a phone call soured Weatherly’s good mood when Moore reported he simply didn’t have the money or equipment to run the entire 55-race schedule. Weatherly took the news in stride and began thinking about how to defend his title. 

The Norfolk, Virginia, driver took it upon himself to formulate a plan to make all of the races. He would drive the races Moore had scheduled and spend hours on the phone talking his way into other rides throughout the season. He would get into cars that he knew had no chance to win but would complete laps, gain positions and manage respectable finishes while saving the owners’ cars. 

Weatherly drove for Moore, as well as Cliff Stewart, Fred Harb, Pete Stewart, Floyd Powell, Major Melton, Possum Jones, Worth McMillan and Wade Younts – names not associated with wins or championships other than Moore. Weatherly wanted nothing but to win. He had the tenacity of a bulldog and would never give up. 

By season’s end, Weatherly had enough points to beat Richard Petty, even though Petty won 14 times and entered one more race than Weatherly. All told, Weatherly found himself 1,228 points ahead when the checkered flag waved at Riverside International Raceway on Nov. 3.

The other big story of the year was Fred Lorenzen, winner of six races, banking six figures in prize money with Ford’s Holman Moody team.

1963

PRESIDENT: JOHN F. KENNEDY

NO. 1 SONG: “SUGAR SHACK” BY JIMMY GILMORE AND THE FIREBALLS

NO. 1 AT THE BOX OFFICE: THE GREAT ESCAPE

MOVIES TO WATCH: MCLINTOCK AND THE BIRDS

GALLON OF GAS: 30 CENTS

POP CULTURE: THE BEST-SELLING FICTION NOVEL WAS “THE SHOES OF THE FISHERMAN” BY MORRIS L. WEST.

BEST DRIVER

Fred Lorenzen, driver of the No. 28 Holman Moody Ford, entered only 29 of 55 races and still managed to become the first driver in NASCAR to earn six figures in prize money during a single season. The Elmhurst, Indiana. native won six times, scored 23 top-10 finishes and claimed eight pole positions. It was the greatest season of his 12-year career. No other driver before him in NASCAR’s then 14-year history had come close.

BEST RACE

Driving the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Mercury, Tiny Lund won the 1963 Daytona 500 as a substitute driver after Marvin Panch was injured days before the event in a crash during practice for a sports car race at Daytona International Speedway. Lund helped rescue Panch from his burning car and was given the ride at Panch’s suggestion. Lund, a surprise winner, was in Daytona Beach hoping to find a car to drive in the 500.

TOP CARS

All three of champion Joe Weatherly’s series victories came in the No. 8 Pontiac owned and prepared by legendary mechanic Bud Moore.

Richard Petty recorded 14 wins and 34 top-10 finishes behind the wheel of the No. 43 Petty Enterprises Plymouth.

1963 Season Recap

DATE | LOCATION | WINNER

Nov. 4 | Birmingham Speedway | Jim Paschal

Nov. 11 | Golden Gate Speedway | Richard Petty

Nov. 22 | Tar Heel Speedway | Jim Paschal

Jan. 20 | Riverside International Raceway | Dan Gurney

Feb. 22 | Daytona International Speedway | Junior Johnson

Feb. 22 | Daytona International Speedway | Johnny Rutherford

Feb. 24 | Daytona International Speedway | Tiny Lund

March 2 | Piedmont Speedway | Richard Petty

March 3 | Asheville-Weaverville Speedway | Richard Petty

March 10 | Orange Speedway | Junior Johnson

March 17 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Fred Lorenzen

March 24 | Hickory Speedway | Junior Johnson

March 31 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Fireball Roberts

April 4 | New Augusta Speedway | Ned Jarrett

April 7 | Richmond Raceway | Joe Weatherly

April 13 | Greenville-Pickens Speedway | Buck Baker

April 14 | South Boston Speedway | Richard Petty

April 15 | Bowman Gray Stadium | Jim Paschal

April 21 | Martinsville Speedway | Richard Petty

April 28 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | Richard Petty

May 2 | Columbia Speedway | Richard Petty

May 5 | Tar Heel Speedway | Jim Paschal

May 11 | Darlington Raceway | Joe Weatherly

May 18 | Old Dominion Speedway | Richard Petty

May 19 | Southside Speedway | Ned Jarrett

June 2 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Fred Lorenzen

June 9 | Birmingham International Raceway | Richard Petty

June 30 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Junior Johnson

July 4 | Daytona International Speedway | Fireball Roberts

July 7 | Rambi Raceway | Ned Jarrett

July 10 | Savannah Speedway | Ned Jarrett

July 11 | Dog Track Speedway | Jimmy Pardue

July 13 | Bowman Gray Stadium | Glen Wood 

July 14 | New Asheville Speedway | Ned Jarrett

July 19 | Old Bridge Stadium | Fireball Roberts

July 21 | Bridgehampton Circuit | Richard Petty

July 28 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Fred Lorenzen 

July 30 | Greenville-Pickens Speedway | Richard Petty

Aug. 4 | Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville | Jim Paschal

Aug. 8 |Columbia Speedway | Richard Petty

Aug. 11 | Asheville-Weaverville Speedway | Fred Lorenzen

Aug. 14 | Piedmont Fairgrounds | Ned Jarrett 

Aug. 16 | Bowman Gray Stadium | Junior Johnson

Aug. 18 | W. Virginia International Speedway | Fred Lorenzen

Sept. 2 | Darlington Raceway | Fireball Roberts

Sept. 6 | Hickory Speedway | Junior Johnson

Sept. 8 | Richmond Raceway | Ned Jarrett

Sept. 22 | Martinsville Speedway | Fred Lorenzen

Sept. 24 | Dog Track Speedway | Ned Jarrett

Sept. 29 | North Wilkesboro Speedway | Marvin Panch 

Oct. 5 | Tar Heel Speedway | Richard Petty

Oct. 13 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Junior Johnson

Oct. 20 | South Boston Speedway | Richard Petty

Oct. 27 | Orange Speedway | Joe Weatherly 

Nov. 3 | Riverside International Raceway | Darel Dieringer

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