1972 Carolina 500 (lost footage of NASCAR Winston Cup Series race; 1972)

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Bobby Isaac celebrating his 37th and final Cup Series victory.

Status: Lost

The 1972 Carolina 500 was the 5th race of the 1972 NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Occurring on 12th March at the North Carolina Motor Speedway, the race would ultimately be won by Bobby Isaac in a 1972 Dodge, which would be his 37th and final Cup Series victory.


The 1972 Carolina 500 was the 7th running of the event, with the annual race typically lasting 500 miles in length.[1] It was one of two 1972 Winston Cup Series races conducted at North Carolina Motor Speedway, the other being the American 500,[2] which in 1972 occurred on 22nd October and was won by Bobby Allison in a 1972 Chevrolet.[3] The annual event lasted until 2004 as the Subway 400, before it was removed from the Cup Series schedule.[4]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Bobby Isaac winning the pole position with a speed of 137.539 mph.[1] Initially, Bobby Allison was to have started on pole in a 1972 Chevrolet, but he was ordered to the back of the field after being found to have made an illegal switch of tyres, with left side tyres bolted onto the right side of the car.[5][6][7][8] Allison notably disagreed with NASCAR's decision, claiming "I don't think it was fair since we were the only one they checked. Somebody told on us."[7] Directly behind Isaac was 1972 Plymouth driver Richard Petty, who was deemed the favourite to win by the Spartanburg Herald, with Benny Parsons qualifying third in a 1971 Ford.[1][5] Isaac was looking to achieve his first victory of the season, as well as his first at North Carolina since his first attempt seven year prior.[8] Additionally, the event set an attendance record for the speedway, at 42,500.[6][8][1]

The Race

With the starting order decided, the 1972 Carolina 500 commenced on 12th March.[1] Isaac maintained the lead at the start, holding onto the first position for 13 laps, until Petty took over.[1] Isaac was able to take it back on lap 23 however, holding on for another 45 laps.[1] His main competition would then become a fast-charging Allison, who managed to pass Petty on lap 43, and then succeeded in making it all the way from last to the first position by lap 79.[8][6][1] While Isaac briefly took the lead again for a combined total of eight laps, Allison was proving to be extremely dominant for the race.[1] By lap 345, it was assumed that victory for him was certain, holding a lap lead on Isaac.[6][7][8]

Suddenly, his Chevrolet's engine expired, handing back the lead to Isaac.[6][7][8][1] Isaac gained a further advantage when Petty suffered a broken right spring, affecting The King's handling significantly.[6][7][8] Petty later remarked that "It seemed like I drove the last 100 miles sideways. I shouldn't have to tell you how it was handling."[7][8] He was therefore unable to catch Isaac, especially when he suffered two cut tyres that forced an earlier-than-planned pit stop.[6][7] Thus Isaac was able to maintain a steady pace when his crew gave him the "EZ" signal with only 15 laps to go.[8] Nevertheless, Isaac still managed to lap Petty, crossing the line by over a lap margin to claim victory and $15,250 in prize money.[8][6][1] Petty managed to finish second, with 1970 Dodge driver Jim Vandiver 13 laps down from Isaac in third.[1][8][6]

Post-race, Isaac admitted that had Allison not retired, the latter would have been victorious, stating "I couldn't run with him... none of us could. I just kept hoping everything would workout for me."[6] Meanwhile, a dejected Allison said to the press "Right now I would have to say this was perhaps my biggest disappointment in racing."[7] This would be Isaac's first win for 1972 and at the circuit,[8] as well as proving to be his 37th and final Cup Series victory.[9][5]


According to NASCAR on TV, 90 minutes of highlights were televised by ABC on 18th March 1972, being billed as "ABC Championship Auto Racing".[10] However, this broadcast has yet to resurface, and no footage of the race is currently publicly available. Nevertheless, photos ands newspaper clippings of the event remain viewable.[5]



See Also