1976 Firecracker 400 (lost footage of NASCAR Winston Cup Series race; 1976)

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The starting grid for the race.

Status: Lost

The 1976 Firecracker 400 was the 16th race of the 1976 NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Occurring on 4th July at the Daytona International Speedway, on the same day as the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence being enacted, the race would ultimately be won by Cale Yarborough in a Chevrolet.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1976 Firecracker 400 was the 18th running of the event, with its name a reference to the fact it was held on the United States' Independence Day.[1] The annual event was therefore extra special as it occurred on the 200th anniversary since America was founded after the Declaration of Independence was enacted.[2] It was also the second 1976 NASCAR Winston Cup Series event to be held at Daytona International Speedway,[3] after the Daytona 500, which in 1976 occurred on 15th February and was won by David Pearson in a Mercury.[4] The Firecracker 400 also has ties to the modern Coke Zero Sugar 400 race, having dropped the Firecracker name in 2019.[1]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with A.J. Foyt in a Chevrolet winning the pole position with a speed of 183.09 mph.[5] Yarborough qualified second, ahead of third-placed and previous year's winner Richard Petty in a Dodge.[5]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1976 Firecracker 400 occurred on 4th July.[5] The race is notable for its many lead changes, with the first 29 changes lasting fewer than ten laps.[5] Initially, the race was between Foyt, Yarborough, Buddy Baker in a Ford, and Bobby Allison in a Mercury.[5] Despite his strong start, Baker's race ended early following an engine failure on lap 32.[5] With Foyt also dropping out of contention after experiencing a shredded tyre and handling issues,[6] the race was between Yarborough, Allison and the fast-closing Mercury driver David Pearson. On lap 72, Allison assumed the lead, becoming the first to hold it for more than ten laps at 12 before dropping it to Yarborough.[5] They continually swapped places until on lap 135 when Pearson charged through to take the lead.[5]

This lead was short-lived though, as Yarborough passed Pearson on lap 136 to again hold the first position.[6][5] From then on, Yarborough was able to fend off both Pearson and Allison, leaving them behind to take victory ahead of Pearson by eight seconds and claim $22,215 in prize money.[5][6] Pearson was able to re-take second after overtaking Allison on the third turn of the final lap.[6][5] Post-race, Yarborough stated that his game plan was to get Pearson and Allison to duel amongst themselves, allowing him to build a significant gap between himself and them.[6] He exclaimed that he was "hot as a firecracker and mighty tired, but everything on the car worked perfectly.”[6]

Availability[edit | edit source]

According to NASCAR on TV, 45 minutes of highlights were broadcast by ABC on 14th August 1976 as part of its Wide World of Sports alongside the AAU Swimming Championships.[7] However, this broadcast has yet to resurface, and as of the present day, no footage of the race is publicly accessible. Nevertheless, a few photos of the event are publicly viewable.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Images[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]