Today the Daytona International Speedway celebrates 54 years of NASCAR’s blue ribbon event, the Daytona 500, a race that has seen its fair share of shocking moments. Cale Yarborough’s fight with Donnie Allison at the 1979 500 is legendary, while Richard Petty’s flip during the 1988 race was one of the most violent accidents the series had ever witnessed. In 2001, seven-time Champion Dale Earnhardt tragically lost his life after a collision on-track. Even last year, Trevor Bayne took a shock victory in only his second Sprint Cup start.

It seems fitting therefore that the first running back in 1959 should produce the closest finish the race has ever seen. Indeed, Lee Petty was only officially announced as the winner four days after the event when footage shot from the grandstands was broadcast >>>

James Gent first started as a freelance motorsport writer in the UK, before an urge to be paid a monthly wage saw him move to Dubai in late 2011. A keen motoring enthusiast, he hopes that one day his garage will hold a Lamborghini Countach, as well as a WRC Lancia Delta Integrale.

James Gent