1973 Medal of Honor Firecracker 400 (partially found footage of NASCAR Winston Cup Series race; 1973)

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Daytona Beach Morning Journal providing a photo of David Pearson winning the race ahead of Richard Petty.

Status: Partially Found

The 1973 Medal of Honor Firecracker 400 was the 17th race of the 1973 NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Occurring on 4th July at the Daytona International Speedway, the race would ultimately be won by David Pearson in a 1971 Mercury. This would be the last Firecracker 400 race to run under the Medal of Honor moniker. It would also continue Pearson's dominant record in that year's Series.


The 1973 Medal of Honor Firecracker 400 was the 15th running of the event, with its name a reference to the fact it was held on the United States' Independence Day.[1] The race marked the last instance of Medal of Honor being utilised as part of the Firecracker 400 name, which was used to show respect to those who earned the Congressional Medal of Honor, with the proceeding 1969 and 1971 versions of the race sharing that moniker.[2] It was also the second 1973 NASCAR Winston Cup Series event to be held at Daytona International Speedway,[3] after the Daytona 500, which in 1973 occurred on 18th February and was won by Richard Petty in a 1973 Dodge.[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 Bobby Allison winning the pole position in a 1973 Chevrolet at a speed of 179.619 mph.[5] Fellow Chevrolet driver Cale Yarborough qualified second, ahead of 1973 Ford driver Bobby Isaac, with Pearson 6th.[5] Allison was aiming to break the Firecracker 400 pole curse, where since 1959, no pole position winner would ultimately go on to win the event.[6] The race itself marked the first instance where regulations demanded new carburettor restrictors and air intake systems be inserted into all cars, with the intent to slow them down.[7]

The Race

With the starting order decided, the 1973 Medal of Honor Firecracker 400 occurred on 4th July.[5] By lap 14, there were already seven lead changes, with the top three of Allison, Yarborough, and Isaac contending for the first position.[5] But on lap 14, Yarborough was able to hold onto the first position for 21 laps, before resuming a duel with Allison. Yarborough's race would end on lap 65 however, following a crash triggered when a tyre blew, resulting in his car slamming into the first turn's wall.[8][5] He would walk away from the crash, albeit with a bruised forehead. Allison's new rivals were Pearson and Petty, but ultimately on lap 125, he continued the pole winners curse when he retired following an engine failure.[5][8][6]

On lap 141, Pearson overtook Petty for the lead.[5] The latter was still in contention for the last 10 laps of the event however, attempting to overtake the Mercury on multiple occasions.[8] Pearson however remained in control, winning ahead of Petty by sixth lengths and claiming $16,100 in prize money.[5][8] Both him and Petty were four laps ahead of Buddy Baker in a 1973 Dodge, who finished third.[5][8] By winning this race, Pearson, who was running a limited schedule for this Series, had now won eight of the nine races he started.[9][8] Meanwhile, this would be Petty's third consecutive second place finish at the Firecracker 400, with him having never won the event.


According to NASCAR on TV, 45 minutes of highlights were broadcast by ABC on 28th July 1973 as part of its Wide World of Sports alongside boxing championships between the USA and the USSR.[10] However, the broadcast has yet to resurface. As of the present day, a small highlights package lasting over a minute can be accessed on YouTube. A few photos and newspaper clipping also helped to document the race.[9]



Highlights of the race.


See Also