1972 Rebel 400 (lost footage of NASCAR Winston Cup Series race; 1972)

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Program for the race.

Status: Lost

The 1972 Rebel 400 was the 8th race of the 1972 NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Occurring on 16th April at the Darlington Raceway, the race would ultimately be won by polesitter David Pearson in a 1971 Mercury, his first major stock car victory for two seasons.


The 1972 Rebel 400 was the 16th 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 1972 Winston Cup Series races conducted at Darlington Raceway, the other being the Southern 500,[4] which in 1972 occurred on 6th September and was won by Bobby Allison in a 1972 Chevrolet.[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 David Pearson winning the pole position with a speed of 148.209 mph.[8][9][1] Directly behind him was Allison, with 1972 Plymouth driver Richard Petty lining up third.[8][1] Pearson was looking to win his first major stock car race in around two seasons, having recently joined the Wood Brothers team and seeking to move back up the field after generally being in the back half for much of 1971.[10][9] This was primarily a consequence of losing Ford factory backing in 1970 after Ford left the sport that year.[10][9] He was confident he could be as competitive as fellow Wood Brothers driver A.J. Foyt, stating prior to the race "I think I can drive as well as A.J. You know, he isn't the only driver who has won in that car."[9] Jackie Oliver became the first international driver to compete in the race, the Englishman qualifying 13th out of 36 runners.[8][1] The race would also commence under a record crowd for Darlington, at around 45,000-45,300.[11][10]

The Race

With the starting order decided, the 1972 Rebel 400 commenced on 16th April.[1] Allison shot into the lead on lap 1, leading until lap 4 when Pearson moved back into the first position.[1] Allison had the advantage in the very early stages however, leading for 24 consecutive laps following an overtake on Pearson on lap 10.[1] Nevertheless, after 1972 Ford driver LeeRoy Yarbrough assumed the lead on lap 34, the first third of the race became an open competition for the first position, with Pearson, Allison, Petty, 1970 Dodge driver Jim Vandiver, 1971 Dodge driver Bobby Isaac, and 1972 Dodge driver Buddy Baker all vying for the lead.[11][9][1] Isaac and Yarbrough would later drop out of the race however, with a piston failure ending Isaac's running at 76 laps, and a valve issue costing Yarbrough after 145.[1]

After Baker led from lap 70 to 96, Pearson assumed the lead and would generally control the rest of the race, leading for 89 consecutive laps.[9][1] Baker would later retire after 242 laps when his Dodge's engine blew, causing his vehicle to spin down the front stretch before slamming into the wall.[12][10][9][1] With Baker out, Pearson's main rivals would be Allison and Petty, but aside from 15 laps outside the first position, Pearson continued to primarily hold the first position, performing the final lead change on lap 201.[1][9][10] Petty would be a lap down to refuel and gambled on Pearson pitting again so that a duel could commence.[11][10][9] However, The King's race would be compromised after experiencing a flat tyre, forcing him to pit for new tyres and fuel and costing him another lap.[11][10] With this, Pearson cruised to win his first major stock car race in two seasons, claiming $14,850 in prize money.[10][11][9][1] Petty finished second, eventually performing well enough to finish a lap behind Pearson, with 1971 Dodge driver Joe Frasson coming home in third, eight laps down from Pearson.[10][1][9][11] Post-race, Pearson expressed how being unable to drive competitive cars prior to the race motivated him to win, stating "“The fact is that I haven't had anything good to drive. It's been frustrating. Today I was really hungry to win.”[10]


According to NASCAR on TV, 45 minutes of highlights were televised by ABC on 6th May 1972 as part of its Wide World of Sports, alongside NCAA Wrestling.[13] However, the broadcast has yet to resurface, and no footage of the race is publicly available as of the present day. Nevertheless, some photos and newspaper clippings of the event are publicly viewable.[9]



See Also


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 Racing-Reference detailing qualifying and race results for the event. Retrieved 2 Apr '22
  2. Yahoo! News noting the race was typically held near Confederate Memorial Day. Retrieved 2 Apr '22
  3. SB Nation detailing the extent of Confederate flags and celebrations during the Rebel races. Retrieved 2 Apr '22
  4. Racing-Reference detailing the 1972 NASCAR Winston Cup Series calendar. Retrieved 2 Apr '22
  5. Racing-Reference detailing the results of the 1972 Southern 500. Retrieved 2 Apr '22
  6. Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet detailing the history of Darlington Raceway and how both races were merged into one from 2005. Retrieved 2 Apr '22
  7. Jayski noting the race carries on as the Goodyear 400. Retrieved 2 Apr '22
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 The New York Times reporting on Pearson winning the pole position. Retrieved 2 Apr '22
  9. 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 9.11 Bench-Racing detailing the qualifying and race events. Retrieved 2 Apr '22
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 10.8 10.9 The New York Times reporting on Pearson winning the race. Retrieved 2 Apr '22
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 TMC reporting on Pearson winning the race (report found on Bench-Racing. Retrieved 2 Apr '22
  12. Florence Morning News reporting on Baker's crash and providing photos of it (report found on Bench-Racing. Retrieved 2 Apr '22
  13. NASCAR on TV detailing the ABC broadcast of the race. Retrieved 2 Apr '22