1974 American 500

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1974 American 500
Race details
Race 29 of 30 in the 1974 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Map of the track
Map of the track
Date October 20, 1974 (1974-October-20)
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 up to 66.9 °F (19.4 °C); wind speeds up to 11.8 miles per hour (19.0 km/h)[1]
Average speed 118.493 miles per hour (190.696 km/h)
Pole position
Driver Richard Petty Petty Enterprises
Most laps led
Driver Cale Yarborough Junior Johnson & Associates
Laps 231
No. 21
David Pearson
Wood Brothers Racing
Television in the United States
Network untelevised
Announcers none

The 1974 American 500 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing event that was held on October 20, 1974, at North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham, North Carolina.

Joe Millikan would make his NASCAR Cup Series debut while Jerry Schild would exit the series in this event. A rare NASCAR Winston Cup appearance by former Champ Car team owner and driver Tony Bettenhausen, Jr. would make this race into a landmark event in motorsports history. His first NASCAR appearance was at the 1973 Atlanta 500 while his final appearance at the Cup Series level would be at the 1982 Champion Spark Plug 400.


There were 36 drivers who competed in this 492-lap racing event. All except for Canadian native Earl Ross were born and bred in the United States of America. Joe Frasson's difficulties in handling his steering problems on lap 4 caused him to be credited with the last-place finish for this event. Elmo Langley became the lowest-finishing driver to finish the event; while J.D. McDuffie would be the last driver to achieve a DNF due to troubles with his stock car engine on lap 447. The model years of the vehicles ranged from 1972 to 1974; with most of the field driving Chevrolet and Dodge vehicles.[2]

After four hours and thirteen minutes of racing, David Pearson would defeat Cale Yarborough by slightly more than two seconds in front of an eager audience of 35,000 NASCAR followers. While Richard Petty, Buddy Baker and David Pearson would dominate the opening laps of this event, the final laps would become a "Cale Yarborough and David Pearson show." The average speed of the vehicles in this racing event was 118.493 miles per hour (190.696 km/h) while Richard Petty would metaphorically scorch the track with his solo qualifying speed of 135.297 miles per hour (217.739 km/h).[2]

Individual earnings for each driver ranged for the winner's share of $16,350 ($78,186.54 when adjusted for inflation) to the last-place finisher's share of $550 ($2,630.13 when adjusted for inflation). NASCAR officials permitted the handover of $99,465 for all the qualifying drivers of this racing event ($475,646.73 when adjusted for inflation).[3]

Top ten finishers[edit]

  1. 21-David Pearson
  2. 11-Cale Yarborough
  3. 43-Richard Petty
  4. 12-Bobby Allison
  5. 95-Darrell Waltrip
  6. 88-Donnie Allison
  7. 2-Dick Trickle
  8. 52-Earl Ross
  9. 72-Benny Parsons
  10. 93-Jackie Rogers


  1. ^ Weather information for the 1974 American 500 at The Old Farmers' Almanac
  2. ^ a b 1974 American 500 racing information at Racing Reference
  3. ^ Prize winnings information for the 1974 American 500 at Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet
Preceded by
1974 National 500
NASCAR Winston Cup Season
Succeeded by
1974 Los Angeles Times 500
Preceded by
American 500 races
Succeeded by