1971 Medal of Honor Firecracker 400 (partially found footage of NASCAR Winston Cup Series race; 1971)

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Bobby Isaac (71) about to lap Joe Frasson (18) and Bill Dennis (90).

Status: Partially Found

The 1971 Medal of Honor Firecracker 400 was the 27th race of the 1971 NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Occurring on 4th July at the Daytona International Speedway, the race would ultimately be won by Bobby Isaac in a 1971 Dodge, with Chrysler achieving a clean sweep as the top four were driving vehicles linked to the Chrysler brand. Isaac notably climbed from 21st in the race order to claim victory.


The 1971 Medal of Honor Firecracker 400 was the 13th running of the event, with its name a reference to the fact it was held on the United States' Independence Day.[1] The Medal of Honor part of its name was intended to show respect to those who earned the Congressional Medal of Honor, with the proceeding 1969 and later the 1973 versions of the race sharing that moniker.[2] It was also the fourth 1971 NASCAR Winston Cup Series event to be held at Daytona International Speedway,[3] after the Twin 125s and the Daytona 500, which in 1971 occurred on 24th February and was won by Richard Petty.[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 Donnie Allison winning the pole position in a 1969 Mercury with a pole time of 49.119 seconds.[5] Buddy Baker, also in a 1971 Dodge, qualified second, ahead of the 1971 Chevrolet driven by Charlie Glotzbach. Isaac qualified only 21st of the 40 competitors.[6]

The Race

With the starting order decided, the 1971 Firecracker 400 occurred on 4th July. Prior to the race starting, four of Chrysler-owned Dodge and Plymouth entries decided to incorporate older type wedge engines so that they could compete against the Fords, who had superior carburettor restrictors.[7] By lap 13, there had already been ten lead changes, with no driver successfully leading more than two laps by that point. In total, there would be 34 lead changes, with Isaac charging through the order to take the lead from Petty's 1971 Plymouth on lap 62.[6] 18 laps later, Tiny Lund in a 1969 Mercury crashed out, scrapping one of the walls for 800 feet and resting sideways against the barrier. Lund was taken away by ambulance, but suffered no serious injuries.[7]

After receiving competition from Petty, Baker and the 1971 Plymouth driven by Pete Hamilton, Issac overtook the latter on lap 136, and remained in the first position for the rest of the race.[6] This was despite facing intense pressure from Petty throughout, and the suffering a loose hood after losing a closing pin.[7] He held on to win by four seconds against Petty, claiming his second superspeedway victory of his career and $16,450 in prize money.[6] Chrysler achieved a clean sweep with Petty finishing 2nd, ahead of Baker and Hamilton.[7][6]


According to NASCAR on TV, ABC broadcast 45 minutes of highlights on 17th July 1971, as part of its Wide World of Sports.[8] However, while confirmation of a television broadcast has been achieved, no televised footage of the race is currently publicly available. However, three minutes of home video footage from Patriot1 can be viewed on YouTube.



Home video footage of the race.

See Also