Pete Hamilton Born: July 20, 1942
Died: March 22, 2017
Home: Dedham, MA
Daytona Beach News-Journal (Photo: Nigel Cook)
Pete Hamilton, winner of consecutive Daytona
500s, died Wednesday, March 22, 2017. He was 74.
Richard Petty Motorsports and NASCAR both
announced Hamilton's death.
Hamilton won four career Cup races, all on
superspeedways, including the Daytona 500 in 1970 and 1971.
He also won twice at Talladega Superspeedway in 1971.
Hamilton's 1970 Daytona victory was in the
No. 40 Plymouth Superbird fielded by Petty Enterprises. His
teammate was Hall of Famer No. 43 Richard Petty.
"We ran two cars in 1970, and Plymouth helped
introduce us to Pete," Petty said in a statement. "They
wanted us to run a second car with him on the bigger
Hamilton was teamed with Hall of Fame
mechanic Maurice Petty, and Richard Petty said that tandem
was the difference.
"Pete and `Chief' won the race, and it was a
big deal," Petty said. "It was great to have Pete as part of
the team. He was a great teammate."
Maurice Petty said Hamilton was "as fast as
anyone on the superspeedways in 1970."
Hamilton had 26 top-five finishes in 64
career starts from 1968-73.
"The Gentleman Racer"
Hamilton started his racing career driving a street division racer
in 1962 at the Norwood Arena. He went on to be the Thompson World Series
Twin 50ís champion in 1965, and won the NASCAR National Sportsman
championship in 1967 driving the Worcester Sand & Gravel #69.
star really began to shine when he moved South at the end of the 67
season. He was the 1968 Grand National Rookie of the Year and went on to
win 12 of 26 Grand American Division (pony cars such as Camaros,
Mustangs, etc.) in 1969.
Pete made 64 NASCAR Grand National (now Nextel Cup) starts with
impressive results. He scored 33 Top Ten finishes, 26 Top Fives, and 4
Wins along with 3 Pole Positions.
But unquestionably, Pete Hamiltonís greatest victory came in 1970 when
he won the Daytona 500 in the Petty Enterprises #40 Superbird. He won
twice more at both Talladega races in 1970 and won his fourth and final
super speedway win at the July race at Daytona driving for Cotton Owens.
He also won a Daytona 125 qualifier in 1971.
He was the first driver to win $100,000 on a super speedway in a single
season. He retired later in 1971 at the height of his career because of
a recurring neck injury suffered in a 1969 Grand American race. Pete
Hamilton later went on to be a successful car builder. (Thanks to
Hamilton was born on July 20, 1942 in Dedham, Massachusetts. In 1967,
Hamilton won the NASCAR Late Model Sportsman Championship title. He made
his NASCAR Grand National Division debut in 1968 driving Rocky Hintonís
#5 Ford in 10 of the yearís 49 events. In his third Grand National
event, the Tidewater 250 at Langley Field Speedway, Hampton, Virginia,
Hamilton finished 5th. Hamilton then recorded a second place finish
behind race winner Richard Petty at the Smoky Mountain Raceway at
Maryville, Tennessee. Hamilton then made 6 more starts driving A. J.
Kingís #1 Dodge. In 16, starts, Hamilton logged 3 top-5s and 6 top-10s.
His strong showing earned him the 1968 NASCAR Grand National Division
Rookie of the Year title.
returned to NASCARís premier division in 1969 driving Kingís #1 Dodge at
Daytona. He qualified 2nd for his Twin 125 qualifier race for the
Daytona 500 and finished 8th. Unfortunately, a crash on lap 44 took
Hamilton out of the event. He then drove Banjo Matthewís #27 Ford in the
Atlanta 500 qualifying 21st and finishing 5th.
1970, Richard Petty put Hamilton behind the wheel of the #40 Petty
Enterprises Plymouth and Hamilton rose to the occasion. He won the
Daytona 500 after starting 9th. He finished 3rd in the Atlanta 500 and
then won again in the Alabama 500 at Talladega. He qualified on the pole
for the Motor State 400 at Michigan and finished second to Cale
Yarborough. He qualified 4th for the Talladega 500 and recorded his
third win of the season. He finished 3rd in the Southern 500. Dick
Brooks put Hamilton in his #32 Plymouth for the Tidewater 300 at
Hampton, Virginia and Hamilton brought it home in 3rd place. For the
season, Hamilton made 16 starts and recorded 1 pole, 3 wins, 10 top-5s,
and 12 top-10s driving Plymouth Superbirds. Chrysler/Dodge pulled is
financial support from the NASCAR teams in the later part of the 1970
season and Petty Enterprises was forced to reduce the number of cars it
fielded. Hamiltonís #40 was not in the budget without Chryslerís
1971, Cotton Owens chose Hamilton to drive his #6 Plymouth.
his Twin 125 qualifier at Daytona, but an engine failure dropped him
from the running in the Daytona 500. He qualified on the pole for the
Yankee 400 at Michigan, but once again suffered an engine failure during
the running of the event. Hamilton qualified on the pole for the Texas
500 at College Station, Texas and finished 4th. Despite 6 engine
failures during the season and a handful of other mechanical failures,
Hamilton recorded 2 poles, 11 top-5s and 12 top-10s in 22 starts.
1972, Hamilton drove the Housby Racing #5 Plymouth in 5 events suffering
engine failures in 3 events, and crashing out of the fourth event. In
the American 500 at Rockingham, North Carolina, Hamilton qualified 4th
and finished 5th to record his only top-5 of the year. In 1973, Hamilton
started 2 events and lost an engine in both failing to score a top-10
finish. Hamilton retired from racing in 1973. He would later be quoted
to say, "Years ago my wife Suzy and I made a decision to go forward
instead of looking back. We wanted to continue living life."
In 1975, the
Rattler 100 at the Twin City Speedway (now the South Alabama Speedway)
was all Pete Hamilton. Hamilton set a new track record of 16.50 in
qualifying, then dominated the race to capture the $1,300 winner's
purse. Neil Bonnett, driving Bobby Allisonís Coca-Cola sponsored
machine, finished second. Jody Ridley was third with C.L. Fisher fourth.
Gathering of champions at the Short Track Summit in 2005
Michael Waltrip, Pete
Hamilton, Junior Johnson, Darrell Waltrip
1967 NASCAR Late
Model Sportsman Championship
1968 NASCAR Grand
National Division Rookie of the Year
1970 & 1971 Daytona 500
- He was inducted into theNew
England Auto Racers Hall of Famein
1998 in its first class.
- Hamilton won the 1974Snowball
After he retired, he became a successful car
HAMILTON Grand National / Winston Cup Statistics