The Pontiac displayed in our museum is a clone of the 1956 Pontiac stock car that Bob McKee built at Speedway Motors for racing legend DeWayne “Tiny” Lund (1929-1975). (This clone was built by Greg and Bea Schneider of Minnesota.) Nicknamed “Hard Charger,” Lund was dubbed a hero after pulling fellow driver Marvin Panch from his burning car. He then drove the injured Panch’s Wood Brothers 1956 Pontiac to victory in the 1963 Daytona 500 NASCAR race.
Here is Lund’s story and that of the 1956 Pontiac: A native of Harlan, Iowa, Lund started racing motorcycles at a young, then moved up to midget cars and sprint cars. A very big man who stood 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighed about 270 lbs., Tiny had a big heart when it came to children. After each victory at the Shelby County Speedway, Tiny would pass his trophy on to a lucky child.
He served in the Korean War in the United States Air Force, and in 1955 decided to try stock car racing.
The Pontiac we have is a faithful replica of the car Lund purchased in Lincoln and brought to Speedway Motors to be prepped for NASCAR racing. The original Pontiac was, and our clone is, powered by the new-for-1956 “extra hp” version of Pontiac’s 317 cubic inch V8. The special engine came with:
The output of this so-called “NASCAR” engine was 285 horsepower at 5100 rpm. It was tested for 0-to-60 mph in 11 seconds flat and 16.2 mpg fuel economy. Pontiac experts estimate that 200 cars were equipped with this motor, which was intended primarily for professional stock cars, but found its way into amateur drag racing cars.
Lund, despite earning several pole positions driving this ’56 Pontiac and several other cars over the next several years, did not have major success, and by 1963 was rideless. In February 1963, Lund went down to Daytona shopping around for any ride.
His friend Marvin Panch, the driver for the Wood Brothers racing team, had an accident while testing an experimental Ford-powered Maserati sports car for the second Daytona Continental three-hour sportscar race (a precursor to the Rolex 24). Panch's car swerved out of control, flipped over and burst into flames. Lund ran into the inferno and managed to pull Panch out of the wreckage. For his actions, Lund was awarded the Carnegie Hero's Medal.
Panch, in the hospital, asked Lund to race his Wood Brothers ’63 Galaxie and Glen Wood agreed. He timed in fourth in individual qualifying trials, and finished sixth in the second qualifying race. Lund took the green flag from 12th on the grid.
The start of the race was delayed due to heavy rains, and then the first 10 laps were run under caution. As the green flag waved on the Great American Race, it was Fireball Roberts on pole and "Flying" Fred Lorenzen outside of him. Lorenzen led the race while Lund worked his way through the field. The Wood Brothers team had an ace up their sleeve – they planned to complete the race on one stop less than the field.
Lund managed to take the lead very late in the race. Lorenzen passed Lund with 10 laps left to go, but ran out of gas and had to dive down pit road out of contention. Then Ned Jarrett made the pass on Lund for the top spot but with three to go he also ran out of gas. Lund's car ran out of fuel on the final lap, but he managed to coast home to win the 1963 Daytona 500 in storybook fashion, and ultimately became a much loved figure in early NASCAR racing. He would win four more times in his career before he was killed in a crash at Talladega in 1975.