Saturday, February 22, 2014
February 22, 1959: Lee Petty Wins The First Ever Daytona 500 With A Photo Finish
Once the photo came to the attention of Bill France the head of NASCAR, he immediately contacted Andy Anderson who recorded the event. After reviewing the film France and company felt the footage was inconclusive and name Beauchamp the unofficial champion. In the meantime, France put out a call for any amateur photographers that might have taken a photo that would help them come to a conclusion. Both drivers proclaimed they had won it while they waited for the official winner to be named. The difference between first and second was a big one. The first place prize $17,900 while second took home just $6,900. By today's standards that would be the difference between $144,000 and $55,000. You could bet your ass that they each were hoping for the top prize. After viewing a national newsreel, along with some more photos that came to the attention of France the original decision was overturned. Lee Petty was the victor.
One helluva way to kick off what has become one of the biggest events in the world of motorsports. 55 years later another driver hopes to add his name to the list that starts with the name Lee Petty. Check out the list here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daytona_500#List_of_Daytona_500_winner