Tiny Lund: Larger than lifeBy: Tom Gillispie Published: September 22, 2011
DeWayne “Tiny” Lund, the last winner of a Cup race at Hickory Motor Speedway, was
most definitely not a tiny man. At 6-6 and close to 300 pounds, Lund rarely did anything
in a tiny way.
And he came up huge in the 1963 Daytona 500.
Ten days before the 500, Marvin Panch crashed a Maserati during sports-car testing
in the Daytona International Speedway infield. Lund pulled Panch from the upside
down and burning sports car and later received the Carnegie Medal of Honor for heroism.
Since Panch couldn’t race, Panch persuaded the Woods Brothers to let Lund drive their
Ford in the Daytona 500. He averaged 151.566 mph and became the first and only driver
to win the Daytona 500 on a single set of tires, perhaps one of the greatest feats
He also joined the list of drivers – Derrike Cope, Mario Andretti and Sterling Marlin
are among them– to get their first Cup victories in stock-car racing’s biggest race.
Lund loved fast cars, fishing, good times and children, as he often gave a racing
trophy to a child after winning that day’s featured race.
Only one month before his big Daytona 500 win, Lund caught a world-champion 55-pound
striped bass on Lake Moultrie near Cross, S.C., and he chose No. 55 for his car.
Lund was a four-time NASCAR Grand American champion and won a Grand National East
Along with his back-to-back Grand American championships in '70 and '71, Lund won
two Grand National races in 1971 – the Buddy Shuman 100, a 276-lap, 100-mile race
at Hickory Motor Speedway, and the Wilkes 400 at North Wilkesboro Speedway. He was
driving a Grand American Camaro owned by Ronnie Hopkins.
He wound up winning 5 of 303 Grand National (now called Sprint Cup) races.
His last race, one he entered while doing a favor for a friend, was on Aug. 17, 1975.
After a crash eight laps into the Talladega 500 at Alabama International Motor Speedway
(now Talladega Superspeedway), he died of massive chest injuries at 45 years of age.
Lund, who was born Nov. 14, 1929, in Harlan, Iowa, considered both Cross, S.C., and
Harlan home. And he has been well remembered in both areas. Now-defunct Summerville
Speedway near Charleston, S.C., used to hold a Tiny Lund Memorial race each year,
and Shelby County Speedway in Harlan runs annual Tiny Lund Memorial race in honor
of Lund, a member of the Iowa Sports Hall of Fame.
There’s also a Tiny Lund Grandstand at Daytona International Speedway.
Lund was also one of the most colorful drivers of his era. There’s the time he fought
the entire Petty family to a standstill, only to be pummeled by a woman with her
purse. There’s the time Buddy Baker, another colorful character, was swimming, and
Lund snuck up on him, alligator-like, from below. That gave Baker, deathly afraid
of gators, quite a scare. And Tiny got quite a giggle. And there’s the time Tiny
was showering and Cale Yarborough dumped cold water on him. Long story short, Lund
wound up flinging a mattress, with Cale clinging to it, into the motel’s pool. Lund,
of course, hadn’t taken time to get dressed.
The winner of the 1975 Talladega 500, by the way, was Baker, another member of Hickory
Motor Speedway’s Wall of Fame. When Baker went to the press box for the winner’s
interview, he learned of Lund’s death and fell to his knees in a near swoon.
Years later, Baker always has a Tiny Lund story. He once talked about a post-race
incident as Lund raised dust as he stalked toward Buddy. The men had just bumped
fenders and bumpers on track, and Lund apparently wanted to dent Baker's nose.
“I looked up and said, ‘Oh, Lord,' ” Baker said with a laugh. “Tiny was racing me,
and I was racing to win. I tried to get around him four or five times, so I just
moved him. It kinda made him mad.”
Naturally. Baker said he noticed part of an axle about the length of a ball bat.
“My first thought,” he has said, “was to take the axle and whop him across the head.
Then it occurred to me, ‘What if I miss?’ ”
So how did Baker handle the aroused and not-so-tiny DeWayne Lund?
“I was a good salesman, and I had a boost of adrenaline,” Baker said, laughing. “I
said, ‘You, of all people, are upset at me? You hit me four or five times in one
corner!’ He turned around laughing and walked off. I thought, ‘Are you kidding me?’
Baker, who was also 6-6 but not as hefty as Lund, was asked if he was happy that
the outsized Tiny departed without hostilities. “You tell me, if you were in a river
and a bear got in, would you be happy when it went away?"
Tiny Lund's first NASCAR race was on October 9, 1955 in Lehi, Arkansas. He started
in 23rd position in his 1955 Chevrolet, sponsored by Ruppert Safety Belt Company.
When his car flipped repeatedly on lap 65, he suffered a broken arm and multiple
bruises when his seat belt broke during his series of flips. He was credited with
finishing in 25th place.
Forward to February 1963 and Lund would receive the Carnegie Medal of Honor for heroism
when he pulled fellow driver and friend Marvin Panch from a burning sports car at
Daytona. Since he was not able to compete, Panch convinced the Woods brothers to
let Tiny drive his Ford in the Daytona 500. Lund won the race at an average speed
of 151.566 mph on a single set of tires! Later that year, he would win another premier
race...the 500 mile Modified Sportsman race in Atlanta.
Lund would go on to win two other NASCAR Grand National events: on April 28th, 1965,
he won the rain-shortened 100 mile event at the old Columbia, S. Carolina Speedway.
He has qualified Lyle Stelter's year-old Ford in fourth place, and ran among the
leaders all evening.
On June 15, 1966, he outlasted the Factory drivers to win at Beltsville, MD. He
started 7th, and took the lead on lap 71 when Richard Petty blew his engine. Lund
led the balance of the race.During his long and varied racing career, Tiny would
win races in USAC, ARCA and the Pacific Coast Racing Association, as well as the
Grand American Series. He won the Grand American Championship three times (1968,
1970 and 1971). And, he won the Grand National East Championship in 1973.
Tiny also won the Most Popular Driver title in the Grand National American Series
a total of four consecutive years: (1969, 1970, 1971 and 1972).
The Shelby County Speedway was Dewayne "Tiny" Lund's home track when he first started
racing. One of the most colorful drivers of his era, with a heart as big as his stature,
Tiny was a very generous man who loved fast cars, fishing, good times and children.
It was more than once when Tiny was seen giving his trophy to a child after winning
that day's main event. Tiny is also a member of Iowa's Motorsports Sports Hall of
Fame. Credit: Fletcher Williams Jeannie Barnes Painting*
50 years ago: A 'Tiny' miracle at Daytona International Speedway by Ken Willis
Sports Columnist – Daytona Beach News Journal - February 11, 2013
As the Maserati careened out of control, slid upside down through Turn 4, and finally
caught fire, consider the odds you could've gotten on the following possibilities:
* The driver of that flaming sports car would be here 50 years later to tell the
* One of the men helping with the rescue – a struggling racer with no big races on
his upcoming calendar – would go from February unemployment to NASCAR's “man of the
hour” just 10 days later.
Even on ovals and tri-ovals, racing can take some strange turns, and in the history
of the Daytona 500, there has never been a turn of events to match what happened
in 1963, when Marvin Panch nearly died and Tiny Lund became an overnight star.
Panch, two years removed from his Daytona 500 win and set to run the '63 500 for
the Wood Brothers, was turning practice laps in a Ford-powered Maserati – Panch would
race the Maserati in the upcoming American Challenge Cup race at Daytona. The wreck
and fire not only changed those plans, but nearly wiped out everything on Panch's
“I remember quite a bit of it,” said Panch, now 86 and a Daytona Beach-area resident
for more than 50 years. “Let me tell you, when you're trapped there in the car and
you can't get out, everything I'd done bad in my life flashed in front of me. When
someone tells you that, believe 'em, because it's true. Everything goes through your
mind at a thousand miles an hour. It's a bad feeling – it sure is.”
Safety protocol wasn't as advanced as it would become in later years, so it took
a few fellow drivers and two others to save Panch's life. Firestone engineer Steve
Petrasek and mechanic Jerry Raborn were joined at the fiery scene by drivers Bill
Wimble, Ernie Gahan and a part-time racer from Iowa named DeWayne Lund, whose 6-foot-5,
270-pound frame invited the ironic nickname of “Tiny.”
“The car was upside-down and I couldn't get out,” Panch recalled. “They lifted it
up enough for me to start getting out, then the tank blew up and they had to drop
The blast knocked the men back, and things went from bleak to bleaker for Panch.
But Petrasek looked into the flames and saw that Panch was still trying to escape.
“I could actually hear Steve – he yelled, ‘He's still kicking,' ” Panch said. “So
they came back and lifted it again, and Tiny grabbed me by the leg and pulled me
out. It's pretty obvious that if it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be talking to you
Eventually, the five men who rescued Panch would receive the Carnegie Medal for Heroism,
but for the hulking Iowan – the racer without a race – the best prize was more immediate.
With Panch hustled to Halifax Hospital for a lengthy recovery from burns, the Wood
Brothers needed someone to drive their No. 21 Ford.
Tiny Lund was the natural choice. While no star, Lund had run 131 big-league NASCAR
races since 1955 and had 44 top-10 finishes. He was well-liked and, given his size,
naturally respected by his peers.
“A really good guy,” Panch said of Lund. “But you didn't want to get him mad at you.
He was built like a bull. If he hit you, the lights went out.”
Panch saw this firsthand once at a nightclub in Darlington, S.C., where a rowdy local
was picking trouble with one of the visiting NASCAR racers. “We walked into the place
with Tiny and I said, ‘Tiny, why don't you take care of this for the fella,' ” Panch
“He took care of the guy, but then his buddies came. Once he hit 'em, they were done.
One of the guys could fight and was sparring with him pretty good, but once Tiny
got a punch in, it was done.”
The stories of Tiny Lund's feats of strength are legendary, but the story of his
driving career basically focuses on a Sunday afternoon in 1963 at Daytona International
Speedway. Lund took Panch's ride and, with the Wood Brothers putting together a winning
game plan, he won NASCAR's biggest race – he'd win four more times in his career
before he was killed in a crash at Talladega in 1975.
While it'd be nice to recall that the massive Tiny Lund manhandled the 1963 Daytona
500,he actually won it on fuel mileage. The Wood Brothers gambled that they could
run the 200 laps on one less stop than the competition, and they were right, but
not without some help. Over much ofthe final 10 laps, Lund was able to feather the
throttle and accept pushing from Ned Jarrett on his rear bumper.
Panch had hoped to defy doctor's orders and watch the events of that afternoon at
Daytona, but he ended up listening to them on the radio back at Halifax.
“I wasn't supposed to go to the track that day, but I think they did it just to please
me,” Panch said. “They hauled me out there in an ambulance because I wanted to go.
They said they'd take me if I promised not to get out when I got there. When I got
there, of course, I got out. I walked around a little bit and talked to the guys,
but they grabbed me and put me back in the ambulance and took me back to the hospital.”
Before he was boarded back into the ambulance and taken back to his hospital bed,
Panch had a short chat with his race-day substitute. In the shocked glow of Victory
Lane, Tiny was asked what words of advice he may have gotten from Panch before the
“He told me to just use good judgement and stand on it,” Lund said.