Born: May 28, 1926
Home: Oakland, California
Marvin Panch was born on May 28th, 1926 in Menominee, Wisconsin. He started his racing career in Oakland, California as a car owner, but when his driver didn’t show up for a race, Marvin drove his own car to a third place finish. Marvin found he had a natural talent for racing and won many races on the West Coast…including winning a West Coast championship during the next six years. Panch became a fan favorite and always pulled in big crowds wherever he raced.
Marvin then experienced success driving for the DePaola Ford race team during the 1956 and ’57 seasons. However, with Ford’s decision to depart from NASCAR the next season, Panch’s career took a step backward. In 1961, Smokey Yunick offered Panch a ride, where Panch won the Daytona 500.
With his career back on track, Panch was hired by the legendary Wood Brothers to drive the famous #21 Wood Brothers racecar. This partnership produced 8 wins, 11 seconds and 11 third place finishes in 69 starts during the 1962 – 1966 seasons.
Marvin then drove for Lee Petty where he captured the Charlotte 600 for his 17th and last career victory in 1966. He retired after that season. Through his racing career, Marvin Panch drove for top car builders such as Smokey Yunick, the Wood Brothers, Ray Fox, Holman Moody and Petty Enterprises.
About Panch’s 1965 Ford Galaxie: In 1965, A.J. Foyt finished the Atlanta 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in the Wood Brothers #21 Ford Galaxie. Although Marvin Panch started and led throughout most of the race, he had to pull out near the end of the race due to becoming ill from gas fumes. A.J. took the car to victory. Panch received credit for the win.
Marvin Panch died December 31, 2015 of natural causes. He will be missed by his family, friends and NASCAR family.