By AMANDA VINCENT
Marvin Panch, former driver in NASCAR’s premier series, died Dec. 31, 2015, at the age of 89, according to a post on a Facebook page about Panch, maintained by his family.
Panch won 17 races at NASCAR’s top level, including the 1961 Daytona 500. During his NASCAR career he drove for Smokey Yunick and teams including Wood Brothers Racing and Petty Enterprises. He claimed his victory of the 1961 Daytona 500 while driving for Yunick. Nearly half his wins, though, came while driving for Wood Brothers Racing. His final win came in 1966 in Charlotte, N.C., as he won the World 600, NASCAR’s longest yearly race, from behind the wheel of a Petty Enterprises entry.
NASCAR released the following statement:
“For more than 60 years, Marvin Panch was a familiar and friendly face around NASCAR and Daytona Beach. He was one of the true pioneers of the sport, winning races across several NASCAR divisions, including the 1961 Daytona 500. As one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers, he represented the sport with class, both on and off the track. Marvin will be missed dearly, especially as we approach Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway, where he was a fixture.”
Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway also released a statement on Thursday.
“Marvin was a tremendous competitor in the sport with a memorable career,” the statement read. “He had a home in Daytona Beach and was a frequent visitor to Daytona International Speedway. We extend our sincere condolences to Marvin’s family and friends. We will miss him dearly.”
Panch was active as a driver in NASCAR premier series competition between 1961 and 1966. In 1998, he was named among NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers, a list compiled to celebrate the sanctioning body’s 50th anniversary. He was inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in 2002 and into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame in 1987.
Panch was a native of Menomonie, Wis. After his retirement from NASCAR competition, he lived in the Daytona Beach, Fla., area, and and was resident of Port Orange, Fla., at the time of his death.
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