Petty Cash: Earnings in the 1960's
by Tom Jensen September 16, 2020
Like father, like son: Hall of Famer Richard Petty got paid in the 1960s – a lot.
In the 1950s, NASCAR’s first full decade of racing, Hall of Famer Lee Petty (2011) was the sport’s leading money-winner, earning $199,850 from 1950-59. In the go-go 1960s, it was son Richard Petty’s (2010) turn to make bank.
The younger Petty set two NASCAR records in 1967, winning 27 races in a single-season, including an amazing 10 in a row. Neither record has ever been approached since and likely never will be.
Petty wasn’t the only driver to gain traction in the 1960s, as both established veterans and some exciting newcomers had big paydays in NASCAR’s second decade.
Here are the five NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees who earned the most purse money during the decade of the 1960s. (All stats courtesy of racing-reference.info)
5. Ned Jarrett, $344,581
Although 1965 was his last full season of NASCAR racing, the 1960s were very good to Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett (2011), who earned 48 of his 50 career victories and a pair of championships in 1961 and ’65 during this decade. Just 33 years old when he retired from driving in 1966, Jarrett’s career was still on the rise when he stepped out of the cockpit. In his last two full seasons, “Gentleman Ned” won 28 races and had 82 top fives, with peak winnings of $93,524 in ’65.
4. Cale Yarborough, $344,681
Although he wouldn’t win his first of three consecutive NASCAR premier series championships until 1976, Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough’s (2012) career caught fire in the late 1960s. After earning just $131,565 from 1960-67, Yarborough more than doubled that total by winning six races and $138,051 in 1968 alone. Driving the No. 21 Mercury owned by Hall of Fame brothers Glen (2012) and Leonard (2013) Wood, Yarborough swept both the Daytona 500 and the Firecracker 400 at Daytona International Speedway in ’68.
3. Fred Lorenzen, $419,122
Known as “The Golden Boy” and “Fearless Freddie,” Hall of Famer Fred Lorenzen (2015) was an Illinois native and one of the first Northerners to enjoy success on a grand scale in NASCAR. In 1963 and ’64, Lorenzen drove the powerhouse Holman-Moody Racing No. 28 Ford to 14 victories in just 45 starts. In 1963, Lorenzen became the first driver to win more than $100,000 in a single NASCAR season, posting winnings of $122,587.
2. David Pearson, $669,093
With championships driving for fellow Hall of Famer Cotton Owens (2013) in 1966 and Holman-Moody Racing in 1968 and ’69, David Pearson (2011) was one of the decade’s dominant drivers and a threat to win almost everywhere he went. In the 1960s, Pearson earned 57 of his 105 career wins. In 1968, Pearson had his first six-figure season, earning $133,065; he nearly doubled that total a year later, posting winnings of $229,760.
1. Richard Petty, $789,363
For the second consecutive decade, the NASCAR racer earning the most money had the last name of Petty. Family patriarch Lee Petty (2011) was the big winner in the 1950s, while son Richard (2010) stepped up to the plate thereafter, scoring 101 of his 200 career race victories in the 1960s. Petty also won the first two of his record seven premier series titles in the 1960s, when he also finished second in points four times. His richest season was 1967, as Petty won a record 27 races and $150,196.