Danny Byrd

Representing Toledo Speedway’s early decades of ARCA Late Model racing is the legendary Danny Byrd. Byrd won Toledo Speedway late model championships in 1965, 1973 and 1978, piling up 31 career feature wins. He also won the 1973 Flat Rock Speedway ARCA Late Model championship and has 29 feature wins there. He also won the track championship at Mt. Clemens Race Track in the 1960s when it was still dirt and recorded 30 Mt. Clemens feature wins. In what many consider the Golden Era of late model racing in the Midwest, Danny Byrd won over 200 late model feature races at short tracks throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. He raced, and regularly won, against drivers the likes of Joy Fair, John Anderson, Joe Ruttman, Jerry Makara, Dick Mitchell, Bob Senneker, Ed Howe, Ron Grana, Ray Barnard and Don Gregory. Most often driving a Ford #08, Byrd was highly successful in cars fielded by car owners Glen Sweet, Bill Hill, Len Fritz and Stan Yee.

Among Byrd’s most high profile victories were the 1972 Glass City 200 at Toledo, the 1968 MARC Times 100 at Flat Rock, multiple wins at the Michigan State Fairgrounds oval, the Wolverine Challenge Cup 100 at Owosso Speedway, the Coca Cola 100 at Berlin Raceway, the Marty Robbins 500 at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, the Hartford Graduation 100 at Hartford Speedway and the MSPA Invitational and Mt. Clemens 200 both at Mt. Clemens Race Track.

Byrd drove his first race in 1958 at Flat Rock and finished his career in 1979, abruptly walking away from the sport when he was in his prime due to back injuries from a passenger vehicle accident. Always extremely popular with fans and respected by fellow drivers, Byrd also ventured successfully into the ARCA New Car Series, now the ARCA Menards Series, in the early 60s and had five top-5 finishes including 2nd place finishes at Daytona and Toledo. He also raced in what is now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, recording a best NASCAR Cup finish of 5th at Asheville Weaverville Speedway in North Carolina in 1965 finishing behind winner Ned Jarrett and Cale Yarborough. Danny Byrd was inducted into the Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2003.

Danny Byrd is among over 100 former Toledo Speedway track champions who will be recognized, either in attendance or in memoriam, Saturday night in on-track activities.

Comments