In 2015 Middletown native Joey Logano won the Daytona 500 for the first time. But long before Logano was born, it was Pete Hamilton that became the first driver from New England to win stock car racing’s biggest event.
Hamilton, the 1970 Daytona 500 winner and a native of Newton, Mass., passed away Wednesday.
Hamilton was 74 years old.
Hamilton was inducted in the New England Antique Racers New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame as part of the Hall’s first induction class in 1998.
Hamilton rise through the sport was meteoric. He began his racing career at the former Norwood (Mass.) Arena 1962 and after racing locally for a short period NASCAR National Sportsman championship in 1967.
Hamilton began racing in NASCAR’s top level Grand National division (Monster Energy Cup today) in 1968 and was named the divisions Rookie of the Year that season.
In 1970, driving for Petty Enterprises, Hamilton won the Daytona 500. He went on to score two more victories in the top level division that season at Talladega Superspeedway.
Hamilton retired from full-time competition after the 1971 season because of a neck injury.