• Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

1979 Daytona 500 singled out as most memorable NASCAR race — turned boxing match


Feb 18, 2023
1979 Daytona 500 singled out as most memorable NASCAR race — turned boxing match


Bobby Allison holds race driver Cale Yarborough’s foot soon after Yarborough, suitable, kicked him pursuing the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18, 1979. (AP/Ric Feld)


DAYTONA Seaside, Fla. — Take a trip as a result of Daytona Worldwide Speedway’s key tunnel, and pics of some of the most celebrated events in keep track of record line the partitions.

One can’t be skipped.

It shows Cale Yarborough, helmet in hand, completely ready to unload on Bobby Allison and ignite a muddy, bloody slugfest in the 1979 Daytona 500 that turned the very predicted first live flag-to-flag broadcast of a race into a spectacle that stamped NASCAR on the nationwide sports activities map.

Who were these good ol’ boys on Television set battling in its place of racing?

The seminal moment legitimized the Daytona 500 in a flash — far more like in a punch — and quickly even regular adhere-and-ball fans were being buzzing above NASCAR and the brawl that adjusted it all.

The battle was a viral clip just before this sort of a time period was even a factor and it is stood for 44 yrs close to the best of the limited listing of most talked about, dissected and even now-just cannot-consider-it days in excess of NASCAR’s very first 74 several years.

As section of the celebration of NASCAR’s 75th year, The Involved Press interviewed 12 veteran contributors to the industry on matters ranging from the biggest motorists to crucial difficulties in advance.

With significant names, a throwdown and a country of viewers, the 1979 Daytona 500 was the winner in the AP survey as the most memorable race for its function as possibly the most pivotal field-changer in NASCAR heritage.

“While there are dozens of prospective honorable mentions, this a person appears to be to be replayed in emphasize films more than any other, which helps it qualify as most memorable in addition to most pivotal,” reported longtime Motor Racing Network announcer Winston Kelly.

Amid the other races stated had been Dale Earnhardt’s breakthrough 1998 Daytona 500 victory and Richard Petty’s 200th gain in 1984 in the July Daytona race attended by President Ronald Reagan. Heck, Edsel Ford, prolonged-time executive at the company that bears the identify of his fantastic-grandfather Henry Ford, could not narrow it down to just one.

“I would say that any race that a Ford Motor Co. product gained is my most unforgettable race,” Ford mentioned.

All ideal nominees. But the 1979 Daytona 500 race — it was Petty’s sixth acquire in the crown jewel race — was a thing unique. Far more than 15 million individuals watched the race and all its aftermath. It stood as the highest-rated NASCAR race right up until 2001.

The mayhem was activated early in the race when Yarborough arrived up on brother Bobby and Donnie Allison and tapped Bobby’s rear bumper, sending all a few vehicles careening by means of a muddy infield. All a few motorists recovered, and Yarborough and Donnie Allison eventually battled for the direct prior to spinning out.

Yarborough later on stated Bobby Allison experienced slowed down to block him, then claimed Donnie knocked him into the grass. Bobby Allison experienced stopped his automobile near the crashed cars to see if Donnie essential a journey back to the garage. Yarborough confronted him as a result of his window.

“He ran toward me and commenced yelling at me,” Bobby told the AP in 2019 for a 40th-anniversary remembrance. “And then he strike me in the face with his helmet, which really amazed me. I continue to experienced my seatbelts on. I had my helmet on, and that shielded me a tiny little bit, but it cut my nose and my lips.

“By then, blood was dripping in my lap. I’ve either received to get out of the motor vehicle and handle this or operate from him the relaxation of my life. So I got out of my auto and he went to beating on my fists with his nose.”

Though Yarborough and Allison traded haymakers in the Florida solar, it was actually a snowstorm that helped broaden the race’s publicity.

The Daytona 500 was broadcast stay in its entirety for the to start with time, reaching marketplaces that knew small, if nearly anything, about stock vehicle racing. There was a blizzard that forced a huge portion of the country within. Metropolitan areas have been shut down, and TVs were turned on.

Deb Williams, an AP panelist now in her fourth decade of racing coverage, was pressed into assistance in her initially calendar year writing for UPI. She viewed the race on Tv set at her parents’ household in North Carolina — snow blanketed the property outside — and afterwards wrote the story from the Raleigh bureau about admirers that had banded jointly to pay back Donnie Allison’s $6,000 good.

“There was just so considerably raw emotion of features that people saw for the 1st time,” reported Williams, who is covering her 29th Daytona 500 this year, for Autoweek.

And not for the very last.


AP NASCAR at 75 voting panel: Edsel Ford, extensive-time Ford govt Tony Gibson, retired NASCAR crew main Jeff Gordon, four-time NASCAR champion Denny Hamlin, a few-time Daytona 500 winner Rick Hendrick, founder of Hendrick Motorsports Jimmie Johnson, 7-time NASCAR winner Winston Kelley, govt director of the NASCAR Corridor of Fame Steve O’Donnell, Main Running Officer for NASCAR Richard Petty, NASCAR Corridor of Fame driver Lyn St. James, one particular of 9 females who have skilled for the Indianapolis 500 Deb Williams, award-winning NASCAR journalist Eddie Wooden, co-owner of Wood Brothers Racing.


An AP Pictures blog on Daytona’s history 

AP vehicle racing 

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