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Pete Hamilton (1942 - 2017)

Getty / Marc Serota

Pete Hamilton (1942 - 2017)

Pete Hamilton, the former NASCAR driver who won the Daytona 500 race in 1970, died Wednesday, March 22, 2017. He was 74.

NASCAR announced Hamilton's death on its website, issuing a statement:

"NASCAR extends its deepest condolences to the friends and family of Pete Hamilton. Hamilton’s career may seem relatively brief at first glance, but a careful study of the gentleman racer makes it abundantly clear that Hamilton achieved excellence during his extraordinary tenure in NASCAR."

In 1967, Hamilton won NASCAR's National Sportsman championship. The following year, he won the premier series Rookie of the Year Award, "and an abundance of victories throughout a variety of NASCAR-sanctioned series," the organization said. "But, of course, he will be remembered most fondly for his stirring victory in the 1970 Daytona 500 while driving for the iconic Petty Enterprises race team. And for that, his legend will live forever."


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Peter Goodwill Hamilton was born July 20, 1942, in Dedham, Massachusetts. His racing career started in 1962. 
In a 64-start racing career, Hamilton had three of his four wins while driving for Petty Enterprises, based in Randleman, North Carolina. His car, No. 40, was a Plymouth Superbird.

Hamilton also won twice at the Talladega Superspeedway during his career.

Seven-time champion Richard Petty also issued a statement on Hamilton's death:

"We ran two cars in 1970, and Plymouth helped introduce us to Pete. They wanted us to run a second car with him on the bigger tracks," Petty said. "'Chief' (Maurice Petty) led that car and started in the Daytona 500. Pete and 'Chief' won the race, and it was a big deal. Pete won both Talladega races that year.

"It was great to have Pete as part of the team. He was a great teammate. We send our prayers to his family."

In 1971, Hamilton also won a Daytona 500 qualifying race. Later that same year, he retired from racing full time.

He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Susan C. Hamilton; his daughter and son-in-law, Becky Hamilton Wells and Chip Wells; and two grandchildren, Rhett and Savannah Wells.

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