1972 Daytona 500 (partially found footage of NASCAR Winston Cup Series race; 1972)

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Program for the race.

Status: Partially Found

The 1972 Daytona 500 was the 2nd race of the 1972 NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Occurring on 20th February at the Daytona International Speedway, the race would ultimately be won by A.J. Foyt in a 1971 Mercury, dominating the event following the retirement of Richard Petty in a 1972 Plymouth.


The 1972 Daytona 500 was the 14th running of the event, with the annual race typically lasting 500 miles in length.[1] Since its inception in 1959, the Daytona 500 has become the most prestigious race on the Cup Series calendar, including being defined as "The Great American Race", offering the largest prize pot and generally defining a driver's career.[2] The race would be one of two main 1972 Winston Cup races at Daytona International Speedway, the other being the Firecracker 400,[3] which in 1972 occurred on 4th July and was won by David Pearson in a 1971 Mercury.[4]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Bobby Isaac winning the pole position in a 1972 Dodge with a speed of 186.632 mph, Foyt taking second.[5][6][1] The Twin 125s then commenced, which helped determine who qualified for the Daytona 500, as well as its starting order.[7] Isaac won the first race, which proved infamous following the fatal accident of Friday Hassler.[6] Meanwhile, Foyt won the second race.[6]

The Race

With the starting order decided, the 1972 Daytona 500 commenced on 20th February.[1] Foyt shot into the lead on the first lap, holding it until Allison took over on lap 4.[1] Foyt regained the first position on lap 6 however, and began a duel with Richard Petty when the latter took the lead briefly on lap 21.[8][1] Some of the favourites, including 1972 Dodge driver Buddy Baker and Isaac, hit problems.[9][8] Baker retired after 18 laps following a collision with Walter Ballard in a 1971 Ford, causing the latter to flip over.[9] Ballared ultimately escaped uninjured.[9] Meanwhile Isaac experienced issues with his Dodge from the start, eventually retiring after 19 laps because of an engine failure.[9][8][1] Allison also proved unable to challenge for the win after experiencing valve issues.[9]

The battle for the first position was therefore primarily between Foyt and Petty, with the two contributing towards the race having 13 lead changes.[9][8][1] But while The King was leading on lap 81, his Plymouth's engine failed, allowing Foyt to take over.[9][8][1] In fact, Foyt would be unchallenged for the remainder of the race, leading 120 consecutive laps and achieving a record average speed for the Daytona 500 at 161.550 mph.[9][8][1] This was despite a phony caution being declared to try and create further action upon the restart.[9] He therefore claimed victory and $38,400 in prize money, with Charlie Glotzbach in a 1971 Dodge finishing second, and 1970 Dodge driver Jim Vandiver taking third.[9][8][1] Post-race, Foyt believed his main challenge following Petty's retirement was dealing with boredom, stating "when it's close you race heads-up all day but after Petty fell out there was no competition".[8]


According to NASCAR on TV, 45 minutes of highlights were televised by ABC on 26th February 1972, alongside speed-skating.[10] This broadcast has yet to publicly resurface. Nevertheless, all Daytona 500s have at least some footage that is publicly available courtesy of the DVD set Daytona 500: 50 Years The Greatest American Race.[11]



Highlights of the race.
Clips of the race.

See Also