– In the 1966 Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Coca at Daytona International Speedway, Sam McQuagg was playing spoiler.
For the first time in history, the 29-year-old McQuagg, driving a Nichels Engineering Dodge Charger, won a NASCAR race with a rear spoiler. It was also his first and only NASCAR win on his 31st career start.
“Not a lot of race cars drivers have done that, I feel like I’m in a very privilege few,” said McQuagg of his Daytona win. “I still got my trophy and gave my checkered flag to my grandson and he has it on his wall with a lot of the signatures from the old race car drivers.”
During the 1966 season, Dodge teams were battling aerodynamic issues on the new Charger with air lifting the back end of the car and engineers came up with the perfect solution – a spoiler.
“We went down (to Daytona) with the Chrysler engineers the month before (the race), McQuagg said. “We were down there for two or three weeks in the month of June. The car wouldn’t run at all. You start down the backstretch at about 180 and it would start lifting. The back end started spinning the back wheels. The engineers came up with this little spoiler. It was an inch and half tall across the back of the car and the car immediately picked up about five or six mph.”
The spoiler helped make McQuagg unstoppable during the Fourth of July event at DIS. He had the field covered as he dominated the 160-lap race leading all but 34 laps. His margin of victory over second-place finisher Darel Dieringer was one minute and six seconds.
“It was a very good car,” said McQuagg, who was the 1965 NASCAR Rookie of the Year. “We lost an engine in the car the day before the race. We put another one in it and we didn’t know how it would run and it ran better than the other one. It was just a very good car that day.”
McQuagg retired from a driving career in the early 1970s and pursued a successful career as a corporate pilot.
Now retired and still living in Columbus, Ga., McQuagg finds himself sitting on his couch during the Independence Day holiday weekend watching NASCAR’s mid-summer classic on television and still reminisces on his Daytona victory.
“It meant awful lot to win at Daytona,” McQuagg said. “It’s the Taj Mahal of race tracks.”
For tickets to the Coke Zero 400 Weekend Powered By Coca-Cola, log on to www.racetickets.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP.