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Pete Hamilton Passes Away at Age of 74

Pete Hamilton NASCARMedia.com

NASCAR

Winner of the 1970 Daytona 500 Pete Hamilton has passed away today at the age of 74. Hamilton who is from Massachusetts was the first driver from New England to win the Daytona 500. He was the only New England driver to win the race until 2015 when Joey Logano won.

Pete Hamilton won the 1967 NASCAR Sportsman Division Championship and followed that up the next year by winning the 1968 Rookie of the Year Award in the Cup Series. It wasn’t until 1970 when he was picked by Plymouth to be Richard Petty’s teammate that his cup career took off, though. Running a partial schedule (just 16 of 48 races) Hamilton won three races and scored ten top five finishes. Of course the most significant of those three wins in 1970 was the Daytona 500 when he passed David Pearson with nine laps to go.

Hamilton scored his fourth and what would be final career victory in 1971. Driving for Cotton Owens this time, Hamilton won one of the qualifying races at Daytona.

At just the age of 30, Hamilton had his NASCAR career come to an end when he had to retire due to a neck injury.

Both Richard Petty and Maurice Petty have issued a statement about the tragic loss of Pete Hamilton.

Richard Petty on Pete Hamilton

“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. ‘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.”

Maurice Petty on Pete Hamilton

“Pete was as fast as anyone on the superspeedways in 1970. We had support from Plymouth to run two Superbirds, and they connected us with Pete Hamilton. He was a good match for us, and we won three races together. I enjoyed being around him and will miss him.”