1975 Champion Spark Plug 400 (lost footage of NASCAR Winston Cup Series race; 1975)

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Richard Petty narrowly edges out David Pearson for the win.

Status: Lost

The 1975 Champion Spark Plug 400 was the 20th race of the 1975 NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Occurring on 24th August at the Michigan International Speedway, the race would ultimately be won by Richard Petty in a 1974 Dodge, edging out 1973 Mercury driver David Pearson by half a car length.


The 1975 Champion Spark Plug 400 was the 6th running of the event, with the annual race typically lasting around 400 miles in length.[1] It was one of two 1975 Winston Cup Series races conducted at Michigan International Speedway, the other being the Motor State 400,[2] which in 1975 occurred on 15th June and was won by David Pearson.[3] The race also has ties to the modern FireKeepers Casino 400, having dropped the Champion Spark Plug title from 1994.[4]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Pearson winning the pole position with a speed of 159.798 mph.[5][6][1] Directly behind him was Buddy Baker in a 1975 Ford, with 1973 Chevrolet driver A.J. Foyt lining up third.[1][5] Richard Petty qualified 4th out of 36 runners.[1]

The Race

With the starting order decided, the 1975 Champion Spark Plug 400 commenced on 24th August.[1] Pearson maintained his lead until lap 4, before Foyt took over for the next 16.[1] During that time period, Coo Coo Marlin in a 1975 Chevrolet crashed out after 17 laps following an engine failure,[1] slamming heavily into a guardrail.[6] He ultimately escaped uninjured, though it took almost 30 minutes to replace the guardrail.[6] While the early stages of the race provided an open competition for the lead, with Dave Marcis, David Sisco, Ed Negre, and Henley Gray all leading at some point,[1] it appeared Foyt was generally in control.[6] However, rain suddenly brought the race to a halt on lap 67,[1] with it not being resumed for another 132 minutes.[5][6] While Foyt remained competitive, leading from laps 92 to 116, he would ultimately retire after lap 117 when his Chevrolet's engine failed.[6][1] Post-race, he claimed the rain removed most of the traction from the speedway, giving the heavier cars an advantage and forcing him to go beyond his vehicle's limit to stand a realistic chance of winning the race.[6]

As the race reached its end, it appeared Petty had the event under control.[6] He took the lead from the 1975 Matador driven by Bobby Allison on lap 193, defending it for 39 consecutive laps.[5][6][1] However, a clash between Cale Yarborough's 1975 Chevrolet and Marcis' 1974 Dodge brought out a caution period, wiping out a 10-12 second lead Petty had accumulated.[6][5][1] When the race resumed, Allison briefly retook the lead, only for The King to move back into the first position a lap later.[1] It was there he faced Pearson, swapping the lead with the Silver Fox five times during the final five laps.[7][5][1] On the last lap, Pearson was in the lead, but ultimately, heading into the fourth and final turn, he went slightly sideways, allowing Petty to move back into the first position.[6][1] He edged out Pearson by just half a car length to claim victory and $15,000 in prize money.[5][6][7][1][5] Yarborough recovered to finish third.[5][1] Post-race, Pearson admitted that Petty was the faster of the two, stating "I couldn't outrun Petty. He outran me all day. I knew he was faster and I was lucky to finish as close as I did."[6]


According to NASCAR on TV, 30 minutes of highlights were televised by CBS on 30th August 1975 as part of its CBS Sports Spectacular.[8] However, the broadcast has yet to resurface, and no video footage of the race is currently publicly available. Unlike most other lost NASCAR race broadcasts however, the full Motor Racing Network (MRN) radio broadcast is available as part of MRN's series of Classic Races.[7][5] Photos and newspaper clippings of the event are also viewable.[7][5]



The full MRN radio broadcast.


See Also