Speed Merchants: Fireball Roberts Paved the Way

By Ben White

Throughout NASCAR’s 65-year history, many drivers enjoyed reputations of being the very best at driving with the pedal to the metal. They knew no other way to race than to run flat out every lap, no matter if sheet metal got crushed in the process.

Glenn “Fireball” Roberts was known as one of NASCAR’s first superstars of stock car racing. The Apopka, Fla. driver was credited with helping build the sport’s popularity in the early 1960s. Roberts died on July 2, 1964 at the height of his career after suffering a crash at Charlotte Motor Speedway six weeks earlier.

“When Fireball was doing his thing, I was just learning,” said seven-time champion Richard Petty. “What I remember most about running with Fireball was the year he won the Daytona 500 in 1962. He had a Pontiac and it was awesome how fast it was.”