1971 National 500 (lost footage of NASCAR Winston Cup Series race; 1971)

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Program for the race.

Status: Lost

The 1971 National 500 was the 42nd race of the 1971 NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Occurring on 10th October at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, the race would ultimately be won by Bobby Allison in a 1969 Mercury, in an event greatly impacted by rain-related delays.


The 1971 National 500 was the 12th running of the event, with the annual race typically lasting 500 miles in length.[1] It was one of two 1971 Winston Cup Series races conducted at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the other being the World 600,[2] which in 1971 occurred on 30th May and was won by Bobby Allison.[3] The race also has ties to the modern Bank of America Roval 400, having dropped the National name from 1983 onwards and being reduced to 400 miles from 2018.[4][5]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Charlie Glotzbach winning the pole position in a 1971 Chevrolet with a speed of 157.085 mph.[1] Directly behind him was 1971 Dodge driver Buddy Baker, with Allison lining up third.[1] The race almost never happened, however. In the early hours of race day, rain continued covered the speedway, and continued at the planned race time of 12:30 P.M..[6] Thus, the race had to be delayed for nearly two hours before it was deemed safe enough for the event to occur, the rain ultimately subsiding.[6] Even then, the drivers drove five unofficial laps to help dry the track, with the first ten official laps being ran under caution.[6]

The Race

With the starting order decided, and the circuit deemed dry enough to race on, the 1971 National 500 commenced on 10th October.[1][6] Glotzbach maintained his lead at the start, but was ultimately passed by Baker on lap 12.[1][6] The first 125 laps were a duel between the two drivers, with Glotzbach leading 56 laps after moving back into the first position on lap 70.[6][1] However, after a caution triggered by a crash involving Earle Canavan, which notably caused his 1971 Plymouth to catch fire,[6] the field was bunched up again.[1] This allowed Richard Petty in a 1971 Plymouth to take the lead, holding onto it for nine laps.[6][1]

By this point, Baker had dropped out of contention, with a four horse race between Petty, Glotzbach, Allison, and 1971 Dodge driver Bobby Isaac emerging.[6] Isaac led for 22 laps from lap 136, with Petty being his most notable challenger.[6][1] But by lap 158, the race centred into a duel between Allison and Glotzbach, with the former achieving what ultimately turned out to be the final leader change on lap 177.[6][1] Rain began to fall down again on the circuit by the 350-mark, and as darkness began to fall, NASCAR's official starter Johnny Bruner Jr. decided to draw the proceedings to a premature close by waving the white flag on lap 237.[6][7] Allison was able to hold off any further challenges, taking the victory, his ninth of the season, and $19,450 in prize money.[6][1] Isaac would finish second, with Donnie Allison in a 1969 Mercury taking third.[1][6] Despite Glotzbach's consistent challenges throughout the race, he would ultimately drop to fifth by the end.[1] Notably, only 357 of the planned 500 miles were covered.[6]


According to NASCAR on TV, 45 minutes of highlights were televised by ABC on 6th November 1971 as part of its Wide World of Sports, alongside the World Weightlifting Championships.[8] However, the broadcast has yet to resurface, and no footage of the race is currently publicly available. Nevertheless, a few photos, including some taken by Hugh Morton and others within the J. Murrey Atkins Library, are available to view.[6][7]

See Also