Daytona Beach, Fla. (July 4, 1964) – A.J. Foyt, the Indianapolis 500 winner, swept by young Bobby Isaac on the final turn of the final lap and won the sixth annual Firecracker 400 stock car race by an eyelash on Saturday.Foyt and Isaac swapped the lead nine times in the last 50 miles in as thrilling a race as the Daytona International Speedway has ever seen.
Isaac gained the lead with only two laps to go, and it was not until they came into the home stretch that Foyt could edge his 1964 Dodge into the lead by a nose.
That’s they way they crossed the finish line. Isaac, the 26-year-old from Catawba, S.C., drove his Dodge into victory circle with Foyt and the two congratulated each other.
Third place went to Jim Pardue of North Wilkesboro, N.C., a Dodge driver.
It took a photo finish camera decision to give fourth place to Buck Baker of Charlotte, N.C. over Jim Paschal of High Point, N.C.
The average speed was a slow 151.985 miles per hour, brought about by five caution flags. One of the yellow flags came out when Ken Spikes of Cordelle, Ga., lost control in the fourth turn and slammed into the inner retaining wall. He was taken to a hospital with a fractured left leg, multiple abrasions, and three broken fingers.
It was the only major accident of the day.
In the final 25 laps, Isaac and Foyt traded the lead, lap after lap, sometimes swapping positions on the same lap. As they went into the final lap, Paul Goldsmith of Munster, Ind., a driving teammate of both men, pulled up even with Isaac on the outside, and set up a roadblock for Foyt.
After the race, Foyt said he didn’t believe that Goldsmith was trying to block him out.
“We’re all on the same team,” he said, then added with a straight face, “I would have been just as happy of Bobby had won.”
Foyt gave praise to car owner Ray Nichels for “putting together a fine car.”
“He knows how hard I am on machinery, so he put together a solid car,” Foyt said.
Foyt’s time for the 400 miles on the 2.5-mile Daytona “Big D” was 2 hours, 38 minutes, and 28 seconds for an average speed of 151.451 miles per hour. It was a record speed, exceeding last years’ time of 150.927 miles per hour by the late Fireball Roberts.
His victory was worth $12,150.
Richard Petty, winner of the “500” in February, appeared to be heading for repeat win on Saturday. He grabbed a quick lead at the start and moved far away from the rest of the field. He held the lead, trading only during the caution lap pit stops, until he went out with a blown engine on lap 103.
1. A.J. Foyt, Houston, Tex.
2. Bobby Isaac, Catawba, S.C.
3. Jimmy Pardue, North Wilkesboro, N.C.
4. Buck Baker, Charlotte, N.C.
5. Jim Paschal, High Point, N.C.
6. David Pearson, Spartanburg, S.C.
7. Johnny Rutherford, Fort Worth, Tex.
8. Earl Balmer, Floyd Knob, Ind.
9. Darel Dieringer, Charlotte, N.C.
10.Bunkie Blackburn, Daytona Beach, Fla.