On Feb. 22, 1959, the first Daytona 500 took place in front of what was then a rather large crowd of 41,921. That first race was called the "500-Mile International Sweepstakes," and it paid out just over $67,000 in prize money—which, back then, was a large purse for an auto race.
Today, the Great American Race, as it is now known, draws crowds of more than 200,000 and is seen live on television and online around the world by millions of race fans. And the payout, well, it's quite a bit more these days.
For 55 years, the Daytona 500 has stood as NASCAR's premier event, and along the way, the racing has produced some very memorable moments. Some of those moments have been exhilarating. Others have been downright devastating.
I'll admit that it's difficult to pick 10 races that stand out among the 54 that have been contested, because NASCAR is a sport that creates memories with every lap. Some of the races in this top 10 are obvious, while others might be up for discussion.
Take a walk through NASCAR history with 10 of the most memorable Daytona 500 races.