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

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1976riverside4001.jpg

Program for the race.

Status: Lost

The 1976 Riverside 400 was the 14th race of the 1976 NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Occurring on 13th June at the Riverside International Raceway, the race would ultimately be won by pole sitter David Pearson, defeating fellow Mercury driver Bobby Allison by 1.6 seconds at the end. It was also the first NASCAR race to utilise the metric system.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1976 Riverside 400 was the the 8th running of the event. For this race, plans changed when the "400" race distance was measured in km instead of miles, following a request by CBS.[1][2][3] Thus, instead of being 400 miles, the race distance 400km, roughly just under 250 miles to the relief of some drivers.[4][1][2] It was one of two 1976 Winston Cup Series races conducted at Riverside International Raceway, the other being the Winston Western 500,[5] which in 1976 occurred on 18th January and was won by David Pearson.[6] The annual race ran until 1988 as the Budweiser 400,[7] before it was dropped off the Cup Series schedule a year later as the land the raceway was on was being sold off so that housing and a shopping mall could be established on it.[8]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Pearson winning the pole position with a speed of 111.437 mph.[4][2][1] Directly behind him was Bobby Allison, with Chevrolet's Benny Parsons lining up third.[4][2][1] Pearson was seeking to achieve the Riverside double for the season, after having won the Winston Western 500 earlier in the year.[1][6] The use of the metric system was a first for American stock car racing, with drivers like Pearson supporting the concept of having all future NASCAR events measure via metric distance.[1]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1976 Riverside 400 commenced on 13th June.[4] Pearson led until lap five, when Bobby Allison took over.[2][1][4] Allison would drop it to Chevrolet's Cale Yarborough on lap 7, only to briefly regain it on lap 8, then drop it immediately to Yarborough a lap later.[4] Yarborough then led for 22 consecutive laps, with his main challenger being Allison.[1][2][4] Pearson seemingly dropped back a few seconds with the intent to allow the two to duel.[1] However, Pearson admitted that the reason he was falling behind was simply because he was being outpaced, stating "I was runnin' hard all day. I couldn't do anything about it when they were pullin' away from me."[1]

Allison retook the lead from Yarborough on lap 31, over for the latter to regain it on lap 35, holding it for another 25 laps.[4][1] But in the final third of the race, Pearson began to charge back towards the leaders, overtaking Allison on lap 60.[1][2] Then, on the same lap, Yarborough began to slow considerably on the long back straightaway, enabling the Silver Fox to move into the first position.[1][4] Pearson ultimately extended his lead to Allison by six seconds at one point, but the latter was able to cut it down to 1.6 by the end.[1][4] However, it was not enough to stop Pearson, who claimed his second consecutive Riverside victory and $15,150 in prize money.[1][2][4] Allison held on to finish second, with Parsons taking third.[4][1] Yarborough ultimately continued to fall back, finishing two laps down in 7th.[4][1] Pearson meanwhile set a record average speed of 105.256 mph at the raceway.[1][4]

Availability[edit | edit source]

According to NASCAR on TV, 30 minutes of highlights were televised by CBS on 19th June 1976 as part of its CBS Sports Spectacular, alongside the 1976 Swedish Grand Prix and the Royal Ascot horse race.[3] However, the broadcast has yet to resurface, and currently no footage of the race is publicly available. Nevertheless, newspaper clippings and photos of the event, including how it was filmed, are publicly viewable.[2]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Images[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]