1979 Winston Western 500

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
1979 Winston Western 500
Race details
Race 1 of 31 in the 1979 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Souvenir magazine cover of the 1979 Winston Western 500
Souvenir magazine cover of the 1979 Winston Western 500
Date January 14, 1979; 36 years ago (1979-01-14)
Location Riverside International Raceway (Riverside, California)
Course Permanent racing facility
2.62 mi (4.216 km)
Distance 119 laps, 311.8 mi (501.7 km)
Weather Temperatures reaching up to 60.1 °F (15.6 °C); wind speeds up to 9.9 miles per hour (15.9 km/h)[1]
Average speed 107.820 miles per hour (173.519 km/h)
Pole position
Driver David Pearson Wood Brothers
Most laps led
Driver Darrell Waltrip DiGard
Laps 87
No. 88
Darrell Waltrip
Television in the United States
Network Untelevised
Announcers None

The 1979 Winston Western 500 is a NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing event that took place on January 14, 1979, at Riverside International Raceway in Riverside, California, U.S.A.[2][3][4] Buying a souvenir magazine at this race was relatively inexpensive for the era at $2 USD per copy ($6.5 when adjusted for inflation).

By the following season, NASCAR had completely stopped tracking the year model of all the vehicles and most teams did not take stock cars to the track under their own power anymore. Only manual transmission vehicles were allowed to participate in this race; a policy that NASCAR has retained to the present day.


This race would serve as Williamson's Cup Series debut. Tragically, he would lose his life in a racing accident the following year during the running of a Grand American series race. This race was the final caution-free race in NASCAR road course history; bringing the idea of a "perfect game" to an end. The final oval course race that went the entire distance without a single caution flag would be the 2002 EA Sports 500;[5] which was won by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. of Dale Earnhardt, Inc..

During the 1970s, Riverside International Raceway had its configurations modernized in order to create the fast-paced racing that the public started to demand for after engine technology picked up during the 1960s.[6] NASCAR would develop a "fetish" for mile and a half tracks by the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season; with Sonoma and Watkins Glen serving as the sole road course tracks.

There were 35 American-born male drivers on the grid; Terry Labonte received the last-place finish due to an engine issue on lap 7 out of 119.[2][3][4] Darrell Waltrip defeated David Pearson by 3.27 seconds in front of 68,000 live audience members.[2] Although there were no cautions in this "perfect game," there were still 13 lead changes and the race lasted two hours and fifty-three minutes.[2][4] While Pearson would clinch the pole position with an average speed of 113.659 miles per hour (182.916 km/h), the average speed of the race was 107.820 miles per hour (173.519 km/h).[2][4] The other drivers in the top ten were: Cale Yarborough, Bill Schmitt, Donnie Allison, Joe Millikan, Buddy Baker, Jim Thirkettle, Tim Williamson, and Harry Gant.[2][3][4]

Standings after the race[edit]

Pos Driver Points[2]
1 Darrell Waltrip 185
2 David Pearson 175
3 Cale Yarborough 170
4 Bill Schmitt 160
5 Donnie Allison 155


  1. ^ "1979 Winston Western 500 weather information". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2012-08-02. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "1979 Winston Western 500 racing information". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2012-03-24. 
  3. ^ a b c "1979 Winston Western 500 racing information". Driver Averages. Retrieved 2012-03-24. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "1979 Winston Western 500 racing information". Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet. Retrieved 2012-03-24. 
  5. ^ "EA Sports 500". Jayski's Silly Season Site. Retrieved 2013-04-03. 
  6. ^ "Tracks of Yesterday - Riverside International Raceway". Insider Racing News. Retrieved 2012-09-04. 
Preceded by
1978 Los Angeles Times 500
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
Succeeded by
1979 Daytona 500
Preceded by
Winston Western 500 races
Succeeded by