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.
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.
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.
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.
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