Open main menu

Wikipedia β

1973 American 500

The 1973 American 500 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing event that took place on October 21, 1973, at North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham, North Carolina. This event would mark the only instance that a NASCAR Cup Series season would end at Rockingham Speedway. Having a 43-car racing grid was a very infrequent case during this era of NASCAR racing. Today, it forms the mandated standards that NASCAR developed over the years.

1973 American 500
Race details[1]
Race 28 of 28 in the 1973 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
Layout of Rockingham Speedway
Layout of Rockingham Speedway
Date October 21, 1973 (1973-October-21)
Official name American 500
Location North Carolina Motor Speedway, Rockingham, North Carolina
Course 1.017 mi (1.636 km)
Distance 492 laps, 500 mi (804 km)
Weather Very hot with temperatures reaching a maximum of 81.9 °F (27.7 °C); wind speeds up to 9.9 miles per hour (15.9 km/h)
Average speed 117.749 miles per hour (189.499 km/h)
Attendance 48,000[2]
Pole position
Driver Petty Enterprises
Time 26.970
Most laps led
Driver David Pearson Wood Brothers Racing
Laps 396
No. 21 David Pearson Wood Brothers Racing

1973 would become the "year of the smaller engine" while declining sponsorship interests for the drivers resulted in NASCAR keeping the bigger gas-guzzling engines from being abolished from the sport. Following this race, NASCAR started to tighten up on their pre-race inspections as a precautionary measure to ensure that only legal racing components are being used.



David Pearson would defeat Buddy Baker by at least one lap after nearly four hours and fifteen minutes of racing. While the green flag was waved at noon, the checkered flag wasn't officially waved until 4:15 PM.[2] An incredible amount of people would show up for the race; exactly 48,000 people would see 20 different lead changes and five caution flags for a staggering distance of 36 laps.[2] While the average speed of the race was 117.749 miles per hour (189.499 km/h), Richard Petty would clinch the pole position in qualifying for his amazing run that reached 135.748 miles per hour (218.465 km/h).[2]

The complete racing grid was 43 American-born drivers; including the last-place finisher Frank Warren who crashed on lap 11 out of the 492 laps that made up the advertised distance. Benny Parsons would return to the track after being a part of that lap 11 crash which destroyed the whole right side of his car. Travis Carter, his crew and volunteers, including Ralph Moody and his staff of 20 people managed to complete the repairs in an hour and eight minutes. They had to replace a rear axle, rear suspension, side bars, braking system and roll bar cage. Parsons would encounter some vibration issues on lap 308 that would knock him out of the race. Even with the DNF, he would slide into a comfortable 28th-place finish.[2]

Only manual transmission vehicles were allowed to participate in this race; a policy that NASCAR has retained to the present day. Other notable drivers in this race included Darrell Waltrip, Elmo Langley, and Richard Childress (now the owner of Richard Childress Racing).[2] Eddie Bond, John Sears, and Paul Tyler would retire from NASCAR after this racing event.[3] Souvenir racing programs were sold at the event for the then-inexpensive cost of $2 USD per copy ($11.03 when adjusted for inflation).

Benny Parsons would eventually win the Winston Cup Championship after this race by a mere 67 points over runner-up Cale Yarborough.[4] Even though Parsons would finish in 28th during the race in his Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna machine,[4] Yarborough's third-place finish would not earn him enough points to overtake the championship lead. Individual race winnings for this event varied in grandeur from the winner's share of $16,795 ($92,586.53 when adjusted for inflation) to the last-place finisher's share of $485 ($2,673.68 when adjusted for inflation). NASCAR officials allowed a grand total of $99,715 to be given to the finishers of this racing event ($549,703.23 when adjusted for inflation).[5]


Grid No. Driver Manufacturer Speed[6] Qualifying time[6] Owner
1 43 Richard Petty '73 Dodge 135.748 26.970 Petty Enterprises
2 21 David Pearson '71 Mercury 135.352 27.049 Wood Brothers
3 88 Donnie Allison '73 Chevrolet 134.695 27.181 DiGard
4 12 Bobby Allison '73 Chevrolet 134.487 27.223 Bobby Allison
5 72 Benny Parsons '73 Chevrolet 134.398 27.241 L.G. DeWitt
7 88 Lennie Pond '73 Chevrolet 133.040 27.519 Ronnie Elder
8 14 Coo Coo Marlin '72 Chevrolet 132.823 27.564 H.B. Cunningham
8 15 Darrell Waltrip '73 Ford 132.703 27.589 Bud Moore
9 2 Dave Marcis '73 AMC Matador 132.319 27.669 Roger Penske
10 32 Dick Brooks '73 Dodge 132.223 27.689 Dick Brooks

Top ten finishersEdit

Pos[2] Grid No. Driver Manufacturer Money Laps Laps led
1 2 21 David Pearson Mercury $16,795 492 396
2 16 71 Buddy Baker Dodge $11,050 491 0
3 18 11 Cale Yarborough Chevrolet $7,925 491 85
4 4 12 Bobby Allison Chevrolet $6,525 488 1
5 9 2 Dave Marcis AMC Matador $4,175 484 0
6 3 88 Donnie Allison Chevrolet $2,725 484 0
7 10 32 Dick Brooks Dodge $2,525 483 1
8 13 90 Charlie Glotzbach Mercury $2,625 483 0
9 7 54 Lennie Pond Chevrolet $1,625 481 0
10 8 14 Coo Coo Marlin Chevrolet $1,925 479 1


  1. ^ Weather information for the 1973 American 500 at The Old Farmers' Almanac
  2. ^ a b c d e f g 1973 American 500 racing information at Racing Reference
  3. ^ 1973 American 500 racing information at Race-Database
  4. ^ a b 1973 Winston Cup Recap at How Stuff Works
  5. ^ Racing information for the 1973 American 500 at Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet
  6. ^ a b Qualifying information at Racing Reference
Preceded by
1973 National 500
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
Succeeded by
1974 Winston Western 500
Preceded by
American 500 races
Succeeded by