1971 Rebel 400 (partially found footage of NASCAR Winston Cup Series race; 1971)

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Program for the race.

Status: Partially Found

The 1971 Rebel 400 was the 16th race of the 1971 NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Occurring on 2nd May at the Darlington Raceway, the race would ultimately be won by Buddy Baker in a 1971 Dodge, capitalising when long-term leader Donnie Allison retired near the end when his 1971 Mercury's engine failed.


The 1971 Rebel 400 was the 15th running of the event, with the annual race typically lasting around 400 miles in length.[1] Its name is a reference to the race typically being held near Confederate Memorial Day,[2] with Confederate flags often being featured on race programs and within the stands.[3] It was one of two 1971 Winston Cup Series races conducted at Darlington Raceway, the other being the Southern 500,[4] which in 1971 occurred on 6th September and was won by Bobby Allison in a 1969 Mercury.[5] After the two Darlington races were merged into one 400 mile race for 2005,[6] the Rebel 400's legacy would continue in 2020 under the current name of the Goodyear 400.[7]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Donnie Allison winning the pole position with a speed of 151.471 mph.[1] Directly behind him was 1971 Mercury driver David Pearson, with Fred Lorenzen qualifying third in a 1971 Plymouth.[1] Baker qualified 5th,[1] and was aiming to score his second consecutive win at Darlington, having won the 1970 Southern 500 beforehand.[8]

The Race

With the starting order decided, the 1971 Rebel 400 commenced on 2nd May.[1] Pearson shot into the lead, holding it until lap 4 when Allison retook the first position.[1] With the exception of a few challenges from his brother Bobby, who was driving a 1971 Dodge for the event, as well as 1969 Dodge driver Dave Marcis and 1971 Plymouth racer Richard Petty, Donnie Allison dominated the early stages of the race, often leading for more than laps at a time.[9][8][1] Many of these early challengers retired, with Pearson ending his race on lap 30 because of steering issues, while Bobby Allison and Petty exited because of engine failures on laps 177 and 185 respectively.[8][1]

By lap 163, Allison was again leading, this time defending it for 89 consecutive laps.[1] The only driver who could challenge was Baker, with him successfully overtaking his opponent on lap 252.[8][1] Allison managed to retake the lead on lap 268,[1] but the battle for the race win continued to intensify as both drivers refused to concede to the other.[8] Eventually, Baker performed another overtake on lap 282,[8][1] only for the duel to suddenly end when Allison's Plymouth suffered an engine failure, preventing a potential classic encounter.[8][9][1] This enabled Baker to cruise to victory, claiming $17,065 in prize money.[8][9][1] Baker could afford to slow down in the final stages, as 1970 Dodge driver Dick Brooks and Marcis, who finished second and third respectively, were seven laps down from the leader.[8][9][1]

Allison performed well enough in the end to be classified fourth.[8][9][1] Following the race, he stated "I worked my fanny off out there all day and then it ends like this. I felt I was faster than Richard (Petty) and Buddy most of the day. But at the end, I was running faster than I had all day and Buddy was gaining on me. Buddy ran a heck of a race and he is to be congratulated."[8]


According to NASCAR on TV, 45 minutes of highlights were televised by ABC on 15th May 1971 as part of its Wide World of Sports, alongside wrestling championships between the United States and USSR.[10] However, this broadcast has yet to resurface. Nevertheless, over six minutes of silent race footage was uploaded to YouTube on 4th July 2016 by Team SC Midlands RacersReunion Chapter. Photos and newspaper clippings of the event are also publicly viewable.[8]



Silent footage of the race.


See Also