1973 Atlanta 500 (lost footage of NASCAR Winston Cup Series race; 1973)

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Cale Yarborough (11) leads David Pearson (21).

Status: Lost

The 1973 Atlanta 500 was the 6th race of the 1973 NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Occurring on 1st April at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, the race would ultimately be won by David Pearson in a 1971 Mercury, following a duel with the 1973 Chevrolet driver Cale Yarborough.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1973 Atlanta 500 was the 14th running of the event, with the race traditionally being around 500 miles in length.[1] It was one of two 1973 Winston Cup Series races conducted at Atlanta Motor Speedway,[2] the other being the Dixie 500,[1] which in 1973 occurred on 22nd July and was won by David Pearson.[3] The Atlanta 500 also has ties to the modern Quaker State 400, which resumed the event at a 400 mile length in 2021 after not being held from 2011-2020.[4][5]

Under normal circumstances, qualifying would commence prior to the race. However, rain prevented this, forcing NASCAR officials to draw the starting order from two lots.[6][7] The first lot contained the 17 drivers deemed the quickest, and were the only ones who could line up 1-17.[6] This was subject to significant controversy with drivers in the second lot upset they were not considered for the first.[6] Among those was Darrell Waltrip, who was initially given the 39th starting spot, but believed he should have been within the top 17.[6] NASCAR official Lin Kuckler would later agree with this, but by then it was too late to change the lots.[6] Waltrip would ultimately start 18th however, after exchanging spots with Charles Barrett.[6][8] In contrast, some were upset Jim Vandiver was in the first lot, as he was neither a regular within the Cup Series, nor had a competitive car.[6] Regardless, the draw was made, with Gordon Johncock in a 1972 Chevrolet starting first, with Bobby Isaac in a 1972 Ford in second, and Vandiver being assigned the third position.[7][8][6]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the draw decided and with good weather on the day, the 1973 Atlanta 500 commenced on 1st April.[8] Yarborough, who started fourth, took the lead immediately, and held onto to it for the first 41 laps.[8][9] Pearson, Isaac, and Richard Petty in a 1973 Dodge would provide challenges to Yarborough, but for the first 100 laps, he was in control.[8] His main rival was Pearson;[9] Petty had hoped to stay behind and capitalise as the duo battled, but The King was forced out on lap 140 following an engine failure.[9][6][8] This caused his Dodge to spin 180 degrees, resulting in his car slamming into the guardrail as other competitors like Waltrip and 1973 Dodge driver Buddy Baker spun to avoid him.[9][6] The vehicle nearly went over the fence during the crash, but Petty escaped unharmed.[9][6]

The race centred between Yarborough and Pearson, with the former seemingly having the upper hand after gaining the lead on lap 230.[6][8][9] However, 44 laps later, his car began to overheat, causing him to drop down the field.[9][6] Pearson took over and held onto the first position for the remaining laps to clinch the victory and claim $16,625 in prize money.[8][9] Isaac finished two laps down in second, with Benny Parsons in a 1972 Chevrolet a further three laps down in third.[9][8][6] Yarborough held on to finish fifth, albeit seven laps down from Pearson.[8][9][6]

Availability[edit | edit source]

According to NASCAR on TV, ABC televised the final 90 minutes of the race live.[10] However, this broadcast has yet to resurface, and no footage of the race is currently publicly available. Nevertheless, a few photos can be publicly viewed.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Images[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]