1973 Atlanta 500

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1973 Atlanta 500
Race details
Race 6 of 28 in the 1973 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Atlanta Motor Speedway
Atlanta Motor Speedway
Date April 1, 1973 (1973-April-01)
Official name Atlanta 500
Location Atlanta International Raceway (Hampton, Georgia)
Course Permanent racing facility
1.522 mi (2.449 km)
Distance 328 laps, 499.2 mi (803.3 km)
Weather Temperatures reaching up to 72 °F (22 °C); wind speeds up to 24.1 miles per hour (38.8 km/h)[1]
Average speed 139.351 miles per hour (224.264 km/h)
Pole position
Driver Ellington Racing
Most laps led
Driver David Pearson Wood Brothers Racing
Laps 155
No. 21 David Pearson Wood Brothers Racing
Television in the United States
Network ABC
Announcers Keith Jackson
Chris Economaki

The 1973 Atlanta 500 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race that was held on April 1, 1973, at Atlanta International Raceway in the American community of Hampton, Georgia.[2][3][4] Souvenir magazines were handed out at this event for a then-inexpensive price of $2 USD ($10.63 when adjusted for inflation).

This racing event was officially resolved after took three hours and thirty-four minutes of action in front of a live audience of 46,000 people.[2][4] If the modern capacity of Atlanta Motor Speedway were used, then approximately 37% of the seats for this event would have been full. Darrell Waltrip would first develop his outspoken attitude at this event; a trait that he would carry over to later races and eventually to his announcing duties on NASCAR on FOX.


No time trials were conducted due to weather issues; the average speed of the race was 139.351 miles per hour (224.264 km/h).[2][3][4] Multiple-car teams were beginning to the de facto rule of NASCAR as complications from the increased level of national brand sponsorship made the sport more expensive to be a part of. Famous teams like Wood Brothers Racing, Nord Krauskopf's K&K Insurance Racing along with Penske Racing South would make their early impressions on the sport with their massive budgets and corporate sponsors paying for new tires and engines instead of an individual owner or driver. There were only five traditional single-car owners at this racing event.[5] Kentucky Fried Chicken and Coca-Cola were two examples of the major sponsors of the official racing grid.[2][4]

David Pearson defeated Bobby Isaac in his 1971 Mercury Cyclone by at least two laps ; NASCAR officials were responsible for giving out four cautions that lasted a duration of 31 non-consecutive laps.[2][3][4] Tony Bettenhausen, Jr. was the last-place finisher due to an oil leak on lap 9 out of 328.[2][3][4] Pete Hamilton and Mark Donohue would retire from NASCAR after this race while Charles Barrett and Tony Bettenhausen, Jr. would make their grand introductions to the Cup Series during this race.[6] David Pearson would join the NASCAR elite after the 1973 Winston Cup Series season; but would be prevented by a shorter racing career from reaching and exceeding Richard Petty's lofty standards.[7] Pearson's final race would be at the 1986 Champion Spark Plug 400 while his final win would take place at the 1980 CRC Chemicals Rebel 500.

The winner received $16,625 in race winnings ($88,321.87 when adjusted for inflation) while the last place finisher received $900 in total race winnings ($4,781.33 when adjusted for inflation).[4][8] After combining all the race winnings from all 40 drivers, the total prize purse for this race was $103,485 ($549,773.76 when adjusted for inflation).[9] Only manual transmission vehicles were allowed to participate in this race; a policy that NASCAR has retained to the present day.

Finishing order[edit]

Note: All 40 of the drivers on the racing grid were American-born males.[2]

* Driver failed to finish race


  1. ^ "1973 Atlanta 500 weather information". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2012-09-18. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "1973 Atlanta 500 race information". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  3. ^ a b c d "1973 Atlanta 500 race information (second reference)". Database Racing. Retrieved 2011-03-31. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "1973 Atlanta 500 race information (third reference)". Ultimate Racing History. Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  5. ^ "1973 Atlanta 500 race information". Driver Averages. Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  6. ^ "1973 Atlanta 500 race information". Race Database. Retrieved 2012-09-19. 
  7. ^ "AMS Flashback: Pearson's No. 21 Rides High In 1973". Database Racing. Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  8. ^ "1973 Atlanta 500 earnings information". Everything Stock Car. Retrieved 2011-03-31. 
  9. ^ "1973 Atlanta 500 total prize purse information". Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet. Retrieved 2012-09-19. 
Preceded by
1973 Southeastern 500
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
Succeeded by
1973 Gwyn Staley 400