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On This Date in Sports February 24, 1963: Tiny Driver

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Tiny Lund is a surprise winner of the Daytona 500, finishing 24 seconds ahead of Fred Lorenzen while running out of gas. Lund was running the race as a replacement driver for Marvin Panch, who was injured in a practice run. The victory in the Dayton 500 was the first for Tiny Lund in his NASCAR Cup Series career. He would win just four other races during his career.


DeWayne Louis Lund was born in Harlan, Iowa. Standing at six-foot-five inches and weighing 270 pounds, the nickname Tiny was one chosen out of irony, as Lund was a hulking presence among the rest of the drivers on the stock car various circuits. A Korean War veteran, Tiny Lund broke into NASCAR after racing motorcycles and midget cars. Mostly a journeyman, Lund rarely raced on the top circuit in NASCAR before his victory at Daytona. 

Tiny Lund arrived a Daytona in 1963, looking for a ride as he was without a sponsor when the season began. Marvin Panch, a close friend of Lund, had qualified to drive a Ford for the Wood Brothers but crashed testing an experimental Ford engine in a Maserati. Lund was nearby and helped pull Panch from the fiery wreck, saving the driver's life. However, when race day arrived, Marvin Panch was still in the hospital and needed a substitute for his ride. 


It was a gray day in Daytona, as the start of the race was delayed by rain. As the track dried, the race began under caution, which helped open the door for Tiny Lund. The Wood Brothers, knowing their driver was not among the best and knowing the field had an advantage, decided to go with one less pit stop. The strategy paid off, as Tiny Lund took the lead with ten laps to go. While Fred Lorenzen and Ned Jarrett made five fuel stops, Lund made four and won the race while his car was sputtering, having run out of gas on the last turn. As a bonus, Tiny Lund won the Carnage Award for saving Marvin Panch's life. 


After his victory at the fifth running of the Daytona 500, Tiny Lund raced several more times for the Wood Brothers, but soon found himself looking for a ride again as wins were few and far between. He spent time running on small circuits and had some wins racing “pony” cars, before returning to parttime status on the NASCAR Cup circuit. On August 17, 1975, Tiny Lund was killed when he crashed during the Talladega 500.