1974 Mason-Dixon 500 (lost footage of NASCAR Winston Cup Series race; 1974)

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1974masondixon5001.jpg

Program for the race.

Status: Lost

The 1974 Mason-Dixon 500 was the 19th race of the 1974 NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Occurring on 19th May at the Dover Downs International Speedway, the race would ultimately be won by Cale Yarborough in a 1974 Chevrolet, capitalising when Richard Petty retired from the lead with fewer than four laps remaining.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1974 Mason-Dixon 500 was the 6th running of the event. The annual race typically lasted 500 miles, but a growing energy crisis in the United States led to NASCAR shortening the race to about 450 miles, with 50 laps thus not being scored.[1][2][3] It was one of two 1974 Winston Cup Series races conducted at Dover Downs International Speedway, the other being the Delaware 500,[4] which in 1974 occurred on 15th September and was won by Richard Petty.[5] The race also has ties to the modern DuraMAX Drydene 400, having dropped the Mason-Dixon title from 1984 and being reduced to 400 miles since 1998.[6]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with David Pearson winning the pole position with a record speed of 134.403 mph.[7][2][1][3] Directly behind him was Petty, with Yarborough lining up third.[1][2] Yarborough was challenging for the points lead heading into the race, and was aiming to win his fifth event of the Cup Series.[7] Additionally, the estimated 32,000-33,000 in attendance is believed to have broke the record for the largest crowd at a Delaware sports event.[3][7]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1974 Mason-Dixon 500 commenced on 19th May.[2] Pearson maintained his lead for the first 18 laps, only for Yarborough to take over on lap 69, leading for 179 laps.[1][2][7] This early dominance was briefly ended by Pearson on lap 248, but Yarborough again controlled the first position for another 11 laps, starting from lap 250.[2][1] Pearson's race would be compromised however, as it turned out that his car was down on horsepower compared to his rivals.[3]

However, Petty also began to emerge as a serious contender, with both him and Yarborough leading considerable numbers of consecutive laps during the mid-point.[7][1][2] But on lap 341, The King again emerged in first, and it seemed that it was going to remain as such.[7][1][3][2] For over 150 laps or almost the remainder of the race,[2] Petty extended his margin ahead of Yarborough and Pearson, despite the latter two's best efforts, causing most in attendance to assume The King was to emerge victorious.[7][1][3] Suddenly, with fewer than four laps remaining, Petty's Dodge suffered an engine failure.[7][1][3] It cruised around until the car finally grinded to a halt with two laps remaining.[7][1][2][3] This enabled Yarborough and Pearson to pass the stricken Dodge.[7][3][1] The former ultimately won his fifth Cup Series race of the season by a 20-second or three-quarter lap margin over the latter, earning $15,500 in prize money.[7][3][1][2] Despite not completing the final two laps, Petty had performed well enough to be classified third.[7][1][2][3] Yarborough gained the points lead as a result of winning the race.[3]

Availability[edit | edit source]

According to NASCAR on TV, 45 minutes of highlights were televised by ABC on 1st June 1974 as part of its Wide World of Sports, alongside the International Track and Field Championships.[8] However, this broadcast has yet to resurface, and no footage of the race is currently publicly available. Nevertheless, some photos and newspaper clippings remain viewable.[1]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Images[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]