1976 National 500 (lost footage of NASCAR Winston Cup Series race; 1976)

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1976national5001.jpg

Program for the race.

Status: Lost

The 1976 National 500 was the 27th race of the 1976 NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Occurring on 10th October at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, the race would ultimately be won by Donnie Allison in a Chevrolet, his first win in the Cup Series in five years.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1976 National 500 was the 17th running of the event, with the annual race typically lasting 500 miles in length.[1] It was one of two 1976 Winston Cup Series races conducted at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the other being the World 600,[2] which in 1976 occurred on 30th May and was won by David Pearson in a Mercury.[3] The race also has ties to the modern Bank of America Roval 400, having dropped the National name from 1983 onwards and being reduced to 400 miles from 2018.[4][5]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Pearson winning the pole position with a speed of 161.223 mph.[1] He therefore was looking to replicate his success at the World 600 earlier that year. Directly behind him was Buddy Baker in a Ford, with Dodge driver Richard Petty lining up third.[1] Donnie Allison qualified only 15th,[1] but was still nevertheless aiming to win his first Cup Series race in five years.[6] Rain postponed the second day of time trials which would have determined who lined up in positions 21-40.[7] These ultimately did take place later on, with Chevrolet's Bill Dennis the fastest of the remaining competitors.[1]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1976 National 500 commenced on 6th October.[1] Pearson maintained his lead for seven laps, before Baker overtook him on lap 8, holding onto it until lap 25.[1] The initial stages would lead to an open competition for the first position however, with seven drivers battling it out in the early stages.[1] Baker would lead the most laps overall at 106, but Chevrolet's Cale Yarborough did dominate as the race entered its midpoint, leading for 74 consecutive laps before dropping the first position to Allison on lap 224.[1]

By lap 278, there appeared to be four main contenders in Allison, Baker, Yarborough, and Pearson, the latter leading briefly leading before Baker overtook him on lap 279.[1] Baker led for a further 19 laps, before Allison retook the lead on lap 298.[1] After a tussle with Yarborough, Allison would achieve the winning overtake on lap 308,[1] which was about 40 miles before the race ended.[6] He would generally extend his lead overtime to take victory 12.2 seconds ahead of Yarborough, and claim $22,435 in prize money, $2,000 of this in lap bonuses.[6][1] This would prove to be his first victory in the Series in five years.[6] Interestingly, Yarborough actually earned more than Allison in finishing second, primarily thanks to the $6,000 he earned in lap money, taking his total to $22,925.[6] Allison's brother Bobby duelled with Baker for third, eventually succeeding in taking the final podium spot in a Mercury by less than a hood-length.[6][1] Buddy Baker's father Buck finished 24th, with this being his retirement Cup Series race.[8][1]

Availability[edit | edit source]

According to NASCAR on TV, 45 minutes of highlights were televised by ABC on 23rd October 1976 as part of its Wide World of Sports, alongside a feature on Evil Knievel.[9] However, the broadcast has yet to resurface, and no footage of the race is currently publicly available. Nevertheless, photos of the event can be viewed, including from within the J. Murrey Atkins Library.[8]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]