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Iowa History Daily: August 17 - The Legend of "Tiny" Lund

Iowa History Daily: On August 17, 1975, Daytona 500 winner Dewayne Louis “Tiny” Lund of Harlan, Iowa, died in a crash during the Talladega 500. A larger than life driver with a misleading nickname, Lund won the Daytona 500 in 1963 and captured the NASCAR Grand American Championship title three times.

Growing up in Shelby County, Lund started racing on motorcycles, midget cars, and sprint cars. He found success at the Shelby County Speedway before graduating high school. After service with the Air Force in the Korean War, Lund decided to try to break into racing full-time. The 6’4”, 250+ “Tiny” first appeared in a NASCAR race at Lehi, Arkansas, during 1955. He crashed out of the race during the 65th lap and broke his arm. Racing out of Harlan, “Tiny” struggled to find consistent success and sponsor support. In a 1957 race an axle broke on his race car, tragically sending a tire into the stands and killing a spectator.

“Tiny’s” career continued to struggle, and in 1963 he arrived at Daytona hoping to find a seat in the race. Lund’s friend Marvin Panch crashed during a sports car race, and found himself trapped upside down in a burning car. “Tiny” dashed onto the track and saved his friend’s life by pulling him from the wreck. The Wood Brothers Racing Team decided to have Lund fill Panch’s spot in the Daytona 500. “Tiny” ended up capping off the unbelievable week by racing to a 1st place finish.

Although he only won four other top-tier NASCAR races during his career, Lund excelled at the lower-level NASCAR Grand American Championship Series. “Tiny” often raced the #55, in honor of a 55-pound striped bass he once caught. Lund captured three championships in the Grand American series while also seeking opportunities to race. When a driver suffered a heart attack in the week before the Talladega 500 in 1975, Lund stepped in to fill out the grid. During the seventh lap of the race, a multi-car crash on the backstretch of the famed American racetrack took Lund’s life. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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