1966 National 500 (lost footage of NASCAR Grand National Series race; 1966)

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1966national5001.jpg

Program for the race.

Status: Lost

The 1966 National 500 was the penultimate race of the 1966 NASCAR Grand National Series. Occurring on 16th October at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, the race would ultimately be won by LeeRoy Yarbrough in a 1966 Dodge, after having led 301 of the 334-lap race.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1966 National 500 was the 7th running of the event, with the race now expanded from 400 to 500 miles in length.[1] It was one of two 1966 Grand National Series races conducted at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the other being the World 600,[2] which in 1966 occurred on 22nd May and was won by Marvin Panch in a 1965 Plymouth.[3] The race also has ties to the modern Bank of America Roval 400, having dropped the National name from 1983 onwards and reverting to 400 miles from 2018.[4][5]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Fred Lorenzen in a 1966 Ford winning the pole position with a speed of 150.533 mph.[6][1] Directly behind him was fellow 1966 Ford driver Gordon Johncock, with Curtis Turner in a 1966 Chevrolet starting third.[1] LeeRoy Yarbrough qualified 17th out of 44 runners with a speed of 151.101 mph after experiencing engine issues on the first two days of qualifying.[6][1] Notably, he had not finished a single major event throughout the season, and was aiming to end the dubious streak at this race.[6] Meanwhile, the race set a Charlotte Motor Speedway attendance record, at 55,000.[6][1]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1966 National 500 occurred on 16th October.[1] Turner managed to beat Lorenzen to the first position on lap 1, holding onto it until being overtaken by Cale Yarborough in a 1966 Ford on lap 10.[1] Neither driver finished the race, with Turner out on lap 93 following an engine failure, with Yarborough retiring due to a wheel bearing issue.[1]

However, it became clear according to The New York Times that Yarbrough had the fastest car.[6] Despite his poor starting position, Yarbrough quickly climbed the order, and overtook Yarborough for the lead on lap 19.[1][6] With the exception of a few leads from Paul Goldsmith in a 1966 Plymouth, 1966 Ford driver Darel Dieringer, and Johncock, Yarbough dominated the event, leading 301 of the 334 laps.[1][6] On lap 203, he took the lead from Johncock, and led for 100 straight laps.[1] After losing it to Dieringer for one lap, Yarbrough moved back into the first position on lap 304, holding onto it for the remaining 34 laps to claim victory and $17,705 in prize money.[6][1] Dieringer held on to finish second, while Goldsmsith overtook Johncock to finish third.[1][6]

Availability[edit | edit source]

According to NASCAR on TV, 30 minutes of highlights were broadcast by ABC on 29th October 1966 as part of its Wide World of Sports alongside a football game in Japan.[7] However, the broadcast has yet to publicly resurface, and no footage of the race is currently available.

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]