Today our History Minute will take us back to the .533 mile asphalt track situated in the foothills between Tennessee and Virginia. I can't recall the actual degree of banking in 1977 but I know this was before the concrete and before the now gradual banking or whatever they wish to call it now.
It was a pleasantly warm day in Bristol, only reaching the mid seventies that afternoon, but a young man from Timmonsville, SC was as hot as a firecracker in the Fourth of July heat of Key West, Florida. Cale started his Junior Johnson Chevrolet on the pole and led 495 of the 500 laps, losing the lead only when he pitted. Cale said after the race that he didn't know if he could finish the event because he was suffering with the flu. Obviously, the best medicine for flu treatment was leading the race, a fact medical science still has not acknowledged!
Second place finisher, Dick Brooks, was seven laps behind Cale at the finish and Dick opined that the only way he could have won was to have someone in the pits shooting out Cale's tires. Some 30,000 fans watched Cale decimate the field that afternoon as several drivers required relief. Ed Negre took over the Matador for Bobby Allison and drove it home sixth. Elmo Langley took over for Richard Childress and Rick Newsome moved in the seat for Janet Guthrie. J.D. McDuffie simply pulled out of the race due to driver fatigue.
Tighe Scott, a modified driver driving for owner Walter Ballard, brought out one of two caution flags when he hooked James Hylton and crashed. Ballard was furious with Hylton stating "that is the third time he has taken us out". Just another example of tempers at Bristol it would seem. There were only two caution flags for 9 laps which allowed Cale to average 100.989 mph for the race.
Noteworthy here is that Cale's win was the 150th consecutive win for Goodyear tires in that event. Of course,these days that means nothing as Goodyear is the sole supplier for racing tires for NASCAR in the "Premier" divison, but back in the day, there was competition, first with Firestone, very prominent in the sixties and later Hoosier tires. I clearly remember Firestone supplying tires to The King in the sixties for some events.
Top Five finishers were:
1. Cale Yarborough, Chevrolet, winning $23,300.00
2. Dick Brooks, Ford, winning $7,750.00 (7 laps down)
3. Richard Petty, Dodge, winning $6,100.00 (9 laps down)
4. Neil Bonnett, Dodge, winning $4,200.00 (10 laps down)
5. Benny Parson, Chevrolet, winning $3,950.00 (12 laps down)
Bobby Allison, James Hylton, Richard Childress, Jimmy Means and Ricky Rudd rounded out the top ten. Other finishers of note are Janet Guthrie in 11th, Frank Warren 13th, Buddy Arrington 14th, Elmo Langley 16th, Cecil Gordon 17th, Darrell Waltrip 19th, J.D. McDuffie 20th, Dave Marcis 21st, D.K. Ulrich 26th, Buddy Baker 29th. Only 30 cars started the race. Oh, by the way, Bobby Allison's Matador started second to Cale that day. I remember Bobby actually singing a song on an album I have/had entitled "Watch Out For The Matador".
Honor the past, embrace the present, dream for the future.
updated by @tim-leeming: 12/05/16 04:00:58PM