Beginning with the France’s, family has always been synonymous with Daytona International Speedway. Fathers paved the way for their sons. Brothers raced against brothers. From the Earnhardt’s to Petty’s, Andrettis, Allisons and so many more, nearly every page of the iconic track’s history is written with shared bloodlines. That list includes the thousands of fans who have made the "World Center of Racing” a treasured family memory; a shared bond that is passed down through generations.
In keeping with this familial tradition, we dove into some of the most iconic names in DAYTONA 500 history.
The family that began it all forever will forever have their legacy tied to that of Daytona International Speedway’s.
It all began when part-time auto mechanic Bill France Sr. ushered in a new era of motorsports with the founding of NASCAR. For his next feat, Big Bill has his sights set even higher -- building the world’s first superspeedway. Ultimately, it was his combination of resourcefulness, drive and determination that allowed the dream to be fully realized when 41,000 were on hand to witness 59 cars take the grid for the inaugural DAYTONA 500.
Bill Sr. stepped down in 1972, paving the way for his son, Bill Jr., to take over the family business. While he didn’t found NASCAR, Bill Jr. deserves as much credit as almost anyone for the tremendous growth NASCAR saw from a regional sport to a national pastime. Some of the most memorable moments of his tenure, as he brought the DAYTONA 500 into the mainstream, were the nationally televised 1979 DAYTONA 500 and Dale Earnhardt’s first victory in 1998.
Tributes to both men, in the form of gold statues, standing front of the DIS Tickets & Tours Building – welcoming all to their second home.
This four-generation NASCAR family is racing royalty.
Patriarch Lee Petty won the very first DAYTONA 500, while his eldest son Richard won more DAYTONA 500s (seven) than anyone else and his youngest son Maurice was Pete Hamilton’s crew chief for his 1970 DAYTONA 500 victory.
The tradition continued with Richard’s son Kyle. Not surprisingly, the Petty success at DAYTONA continued as Kyle won the very first race he entered –the 1979 DAYTONA ARCA 200. Overall, he started 29 DAYTONA 500s – only four less than his legendary father – and ultimately posted six top-15 finishes.
Lee’s great-grandson Adam raced twice at DAYTONA in the Xfinity Series, posting a sixth-place finish in his very first race at DIS.
The Pettys’ place in the history of “The World Center of Racing” is cemented forever.
The Earnhardt family has produced two of DAYTONA’s top three winningest drivers. Nobody has more DIS victories than Dale Earnhardt’s 34, while Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 16 victories trail only Tony Stewart (19) and his late father. The elder Earnhardt finally captured his elusive DAYTONA 500 victory in 1998. His son clearly learned lessons from his father as he won “The Great American Race” in 2004 in his fifth career DAYTONA 500 start and again 10 years later, leaving him with more DAYTONA 500 victory wins than his legendary father.
While Ned Jarrett’s DAYTONA career consisted of 14 top-10s and seven top-five finishes over 20 starts, he was never able to claim a DAYTONA 500 victory. He did, however, provide one of the most memorable moments in the history of the storied race as he called his son’s triumph for CBS Sports in the 1993 DAYTONA 500. Dale Jarrett went on to win the DAYTONA 500 two more times (1996 and 2000), joining Bobby Allison and Jeff Gordon for third-most all-time victories.
Bobby Allison is one of only five drivers to have won the DAYTONA 500 three or more times, while Davey Allison captured his lone DAYTONA 500 victory in 1992. The two will forever be remembered for providing perhaps the most fitting display of the family nature of NASCAR when they finished one-two in the 1988 DAYTONA 500.
Thanks to Chase Elliott’s successful 2016 rookie campaign, the Elliotts are the latest familyto be added to this list. Nicknamed “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville,” Bill Elliott won the DAYTONA 500 in 1985 and ‘87. He also holds a DAYTONA 500 record that will probably never be broken – fastest qualifying lap of 210.364 mph. In fact, Bill holds the three fastest DAYTONA 500 pole speeds in history. Chase didn’t take long to follow in his father’s footsteps as he won the 2016 DAYTONA 500 pole in his very first DAYTONA 500 – becoming the youngest pole winner in DAYTONA 500 history at 20 years of age.
Who did we miss on the list? What families do you think have the proudest DAYTONA 500 history? Let us know by leaving us a comment below!
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