1973 American 500

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1973 American 500
Race details
Race 28 of 28 in the 1973 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Map of the track
Map of the track
Date October 21, 1973 (1973-October-21)
Location North Carolina Motor Speedway (Rockingham, North Carolina, USA)
Course Permanent racing facility
1.017 mi (1.636 km)
Distance 492 laps, 500 mi (804 km)
Weather Temperatures reaching a maximum of 81.9 °F (27.7 °C); wind speeds up to 9.9 miles per hour (15.9 km/h)[1]
Average speed 117.749 miles per hour (189.499 km/h)
Pole position
Driver Richard Petty Petty Enterprises
Most laps led
Driver David Pearson Wood Brothers Racing
Laps 396
No. 21
David Pearson
Wood Brothers Racing
Television in the United States
Network untelevised
Announcers none

The 1973 American 500 is a NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing event that took place on October 21, 1973, at North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham, North Carolina, U.S.. This event would mark the only instance that a NASCAR Cup Series season would end at Rockingham Speedway. Having a 43-car racing grid was a very infrequent case during this era of NASCAR racing. Today, it forms the mandated standards that NASCAR developed over the years.

1973 would become the "year of the smaller engine" while declining sponsorship interests for the drivers resulted in NASCAR keeping the bigger gas-guzzling engines from being abolished from the sport. Following this race, NASCAR started to tighten up on their pre-race inspections as a precautionary measure to ensure that only legal racing components are being used.


David Pearson would defeat Buddy Baker by at least one lap after four hours of racing.[2] An incredible amount of people would show up for the race; exactly 48,000 people would see 20 different lead changes and five caution flags for a staggering distance of 36 laps.[2] While the average speed of the race was 117.749 miles per hour (189.499 km/h), Richard Petty would clinch the pole position in qualifying for his amazing run that reached 135.748 miles per hour (218.465 km/h).[2] The complete racing grid was 43 American-born drivers; including the last-place finisher Frank Warren who crashed on lap 11 out of the 492 laps that made up the advertised distance.[2]

Other notable drivers in this race included Darrell Waltrip, Elmo Langley, and Richard Childress (now the owner of Richard Childress Racing).[2] Eddie Bond, John Sears, and Paul Tyler would retire from NASCAR after this racing event.[3]

Benny Parsons would eventually win the Winston Cup Championship after this race by a mere 67 points over runner-up Cale Yarborough.[4] Even though Parsons would finish in 28th during the race in his Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna machine,[4] Yarborough's third-place finish would not earn him enough points to overtake the championship lead. Individual race winnings for this event varied in grandeur from the winner's share of $16,795 ($89,225.01 when adjusted for inflation) to the last-place finisher's share of $485 ($2,576.61 when adjusted for inflation). NASCAR officials allowed a grand total of $99,715 to be given to the finishers of this racing event ($529,745.28 when adjusted for inflation).[5]

Top ten finishers[edit]

  1. 21-David Pearson
  2. 71-Buddy Baker
  3. 11-Cale Yarborough
  4. 12-Bobby Allison
  5. 2-Dave Marcis
  6. 88-Donnie Allison
  7. 32-Dick Brooks
  8. 90-Charlie Glotzbach
  9. 54-Lennie Pond
  10. 14-Coo Coo Marlin


  1. ^ Weather information for the 1973 American 500 at The Old Farmers' Almanac
  2. ^ a b c d e 1973 American 500 racing information at Racing Reference
  3. ^ 1973 American 500 racing information at Race-Database
  4. ^ a b 1973 Winston Cup Recap at How Stuff Works
  5. ^ Racing information for the 1973 American 500 at Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet
Preceded by
1973 National 500
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
Succeeded by
1974 Winston Western 500
Preceded by
American 500 races
Succeeded by