1971 Daytona 500
|Race 4 of 48 in the 1971 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season|
|Date||February 14, 1971|
|Official name||Daytona 500|
|Location||Daytona International Speedway
Daytona Beach, Florida, U.S.
|Course||Permanent racing facility
2.5 mi (4.023 km)
|Distance||200 laps, 500 mi (800 km)|
|Weather||Partly cloudy and cold with a high of 54 °F (12 °C); wind speed 13.23 miles per hour (21.29 km/h)|
|Average speed||144.462 miles per hour (232.489 km/h)|
|Most laps led|
|Driver||Richard Petty||Petty Enterprises|
|No. 43||Richard Petty||Petty Enterprises|
|Television in the United States|
|Announcers||Chris Economaki (color commentator),
Keith Jackson (lap-by-lap announcer)
The 1971 Daytona 500, the 13th running of the event, was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series (now Sprint Cup Series) race held on February 14, 1971 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Spanning 500 miles (800 km) on the paved oval track, all of the racing action commenced during daytime hours and ended prior to dusk since there was no lighting available until at least the 1998 season. It was the first Daytona 500 in the Winston Cup era of NASCAR. During this time, Richard Petty (the race winner and the eventual Winston Cup champion) was becoming one of the winningest veterans on the NASCAR circuit.
Daytona International Speedway is a race track in Daytona Beach, Florida that is one of six superspeedways to hold NASCAR races, the others being Michigan International Speedway, Auto Club Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway. The standard track at Daytona is a four-turn superspeedway that is 2.5 miles (4.0 km) long. The track also features two other layouts that utilize portions of the primary high speed tri-oval, such as a 3.56-mile (5.73 km) sports car course and a 2.95-mile (4.75 km) motorcycle course. The track's 180-acre (73 ha) infield includes the 29-acre (12 ha) Lake Lloyd, which has hosted powerboat racing. The speedway is owned and operated by International Speedway Corporation.
The track was built by NASCAR founder Bill France, Sr. to host racing that was being held at the former Daytona Beach Road Course and opened with the first Daytona 500 in 1959. The speedway has been renovated three times, with the infield renovated in 2004, and the track repaved in 1978 and 2010.
The Daytona 500 is regarded as the most important and prestigious race on the NASCAR calendar. It is also the series' first race of the year; this phenomenon is virtually unique in sports, which tend to have championships or other major events at the end of the season rather than the start. Since 1995, U.S. television ratings for the Daytona 500 have been the highest for any auto race of the year, surpassing the traditional leader, the Indianapolis 500 which in turn greatly surpasses the Daytona 500 in in-track attendance and international viewing. The 2006 Daytona 500 attracted the sixth largest average live global TV audience of any sporting event that year with 20 million viewers.
Manufacturers and statistics
The manufacturers that were involved on the twelfth running of the Daytona 500 included Chevrolet, Mercury, Ford, Plymouth, and Dodge. All the vehicles were manufactured directly from the same Detroit factories that made normal passenger automobiles as opposed to the specialized stock car production facilities of today (which are mostly made in South Carolina). Out of the 500 miles it takes to make a complete race, the average speed achieved at the 1971 Daytona 500 was 144.462 miles per hour (232.489 km/h). Today's Sprint Cup vehicles can only go up to 200 miles per hour (320 km/h) at today's Daytona 500.
Overall, the maximum qualifying speed for the 1971 Daytona 500 time trials was more than 190 miles per hour (310 km/h). Forty cars were lined with legends like A. J. Foyt and David Pearson eventually acquiring top five finishes at the end of this prestigious race.
Note: All participants were born in the United States except for Pedro Rodríguez.
- Richard Petty (race time: 3 hours, 27 minutes, 40 seconds)
- Buddy Baker† (10 seconds behind)
- A. J. Foyt (less than 1 lap behind)
- David Pearson (1 lap behind)
- Fred Lorenzen
- Jim Vandiver (2 laps behind)
- Dick Brooks†
- Jim Hurtubise† (3 laps behind)
- James Hylton
- Bobby Isaac†
- Ramo Stott (5 laps behind)
- Joe Frasson (6 laps behind)
- Pedro Rodríguez†
- Elmo Langley† (7 laps behind)
- Freddy Fryar (8 laps behind)
- Bill Champion (9 laps behind)
- Cecil Gordon† (13 laps behind)
- Bobby Allison
- Marv Acton (14 laps behind)
- Coo Coo Marlin† (16 laps behind)
- Tommy Gale† (17 laps behind)
- Larry Baumel (21 laps behind)
- Ben Arnold
- Frank Warren (22 laps behind)
- Dave Marcis* (27 laps behind)
- Donnie Allison* (30 laps behind)
- Bill Dennis* (38 laps behind)
- Pete Hamilton* (43 laps behind)
- John Sears†* (74 laps behind)
- Bill Seifert* (89 laps behind)
- Henley Gray* (107 laps behind)
- Red Farmer* (109 laps behind)
- Cale Yarborough* (139 laps behind)
- LeeRoy Yarbrough†* (155 laps behind)
- Benny Parsons†* (161 laps behind)
- Friday Hassler†* (162 laps behind)
- Neil Castles* (176 laps behind)
- Maynard Troyer* (191 laps behind in his Cup Series debut)
- Tiny Lund†* (193 laps behind)
- Ron Keselowski* (199 laps behind)
† Driver is known to be deceased
* Driver failed to finish race
Winnings and championship potential
The winner's purse for the 1971 Daytona 500 was considered to be $45,450 in American dollars ($265,566.93 when inflation is taken into effect). Even the last place finisher received $1,000 ($5,843.06 with inflation) in take-home pay. Richard Petty would go on to win four more Daytona 500 races after this one (1973, 1974, 1979, and 1981). There were seven cautions involving forty-four laps of yellow flag racing and zero laps of red flag racing.
Attendance for the 1971 Daytona 500 reached 80,000 spectators; outnumbering the maximum attendance possible at Soldier Field by 18,500 people. Expansion in the next eighteen years would bring attendance up to 180,000 people (even when considering the increased television and Internet coverage that today's NASCAR Sprint Cup races experience). ABC's Wide World of Sports televised the race during an era where televised NASCAR programming was restricted due to its mostly regional appeal with citizens of the Southern United States. Commentary was done by the legendary Chris Economaki who did the Daytona 500 races in the 1970s. NASCAR would not see a significant growth in their "northern audience" until at least the 1990s. Today, NASCAR can be found nearly seven days a week through digital satellite television channels like ESPN, Speed, and TNT from Hawaii to Maine (while their Canadian counterpart TSN makes the events accessible for cable and satellite customers from British Columbia to Newfoundland).
Darrell Waltrip often complained in his early racing career that NASCAR should have been televised more. It could be said that Darrell Waltrip would have accomplished racing as a young man in the 1990s as opposed to the more company-oriented days of the 1970s. He would race in the next year's Permatex 300 Sportsman race for his first Daytona start in a car once driven by Mario Andretti. Often, it was only the Daytona 500 and a few major Grand National/Winston Cup events that were televised during the 1970s and 1980s when NASCAR was predominantly a "Southern sport."
End of a tradition
Most of the vehicles utilized during that running of the Daytona 500 were manufactured between 1969 and 1971. Since each and every driver was still expected to compete in the same passenger vehicle that he commuted to the race course in, not all drivers had the same model year of vehicle. Deviation of up to two or three model years was expected because parity wasn't enforced by NASCAR during that era and different teams had different budgets from each other.
This tradition would finally end at all NASCAR events where passenger stock cars were involved because of the 1973 oil crisis. In the ensuing panic, homologation rules would finally be discontinued, allowing vehicles that are specifically designed for racing (i.e., not street legal). Detroit's role in the sport would later be relegated to engine parts and decals as seen by the looks of today's "stock car" automobiles. Famous drivers that raced in this running of the Daytona 500 included Coo Coo Marlin (father of Sterling Marlin and grandfather of Steadman Marlin), Donnie Allison, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough, and Benny Parsons. Out of the forty racers competing in the 1971 Daytona 500, thirty-nine were American and only one was Mexican. The only Mexican competitor (who would finish in thirteenth place) would have an asphalt racing course named after him after he died six months later in Germany during an open wheel race (along with his older brother Ricardo Rodríguez).
On a side note, Dick Brooks would be the final driver to make a competitive run with a winged vehicle. Following the 1970 season, special, limited production 'aero' cars such as the Dodge Daytona and Plymouth Superbird, as well as the Ford Torino Talladega and Mercury Spoiler II, were restricted to a 305 ci engine. Brooks' Mario Rossi team was the only team to run a winged car in the race, and although they had a 7th-place run in the race, elected to run a conventional big-block powered car the rest of the season, thus ending the 'aero warrior' era in NASCAR. Rear wings would not appear again in NASCAR until 2008 with the 'Car of Tomorrow', but due to unpopularity with fans and teams alike, the wings eventually were replaced with rear spoilers again in the middle of the 2010 NASCAR season.
- "Weather History for the 1971 Daytona 500 race". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
- "1971 Daytona 500 information". Racing-Reference. Archived from the original on 2009-07-21. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
- "Daytona 500 information for Richard Petty". Daytona International Speedway. Archived from the original on 2009-07-21. Retrieved 2009-06-29.
- "Race Tracks". NASCAR. Turner Sports. Archived from the original on June 28, 2011. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
- "Track facts". DaytonaInternationalSpeedway.com. Daytona International Speedway. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
- "The History of ISC". InternationalSpeedwayCorporation.com. International Speedway Corporation. June 14, 2015. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
- "Daytona Announces Facility Renovation Plans, No Track Alterations". Roadracing World (Lake Elsinore, California: Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.). March 24, 2004. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
- "Daytona International Speedway set to repave following the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola". DaytonaInternationalSpeedway.com. Daytona Beach, Florida: Daytona International Speedway. April 24, 2010. Retrieved November 24, 2015.
- What Makes Daytona Special. Daytona International Speedway. May 10, 2012. 2:51 minutes in. YouTube.
- "World’s most watched TV sports events: 2006 Rank & Trends report". Initiative. January 19, 2007. Archived from the original on February 8, 2007. Retrieved November 24, 2015.
- "1971's Average Race Winning Speed". About.com (NASCAR). Retrieved 2009-06-27.
1970 Daytona 500
|Daytona 500 races
1972 Daytona 500
1971 Motor Trend 500
|NASCAR Winston Cup Season
1971 Miller High Life 500
1970 Georgia 500
|Richard Petty's Career Wins
1971 Richmond 500