Racing HIstory Minute - October 1, 1978

Tim Leeming
@tim-leeming
6 years ago
3,119 posts

As difficult as it is for me to believe that we turn the calendar over to October already it is even more difficult for me to believe the race we feature today was 35 years ago. The year, 1978, seems like no more than two or three years ago! Wow, how time flies.

Today we feature the 1978 "Wilkes 400" at North Wilkesboro, NC which was 250 laps on the .625 mile paved track. Darrell Waltrip in the DiGard Chevrolet would start on the pole with a speed of 109.397 mph which was moving on in that era for a track that size. Benny Parsons qualified the L.G. DeWitt Chevy second, Cale Yarborough in Junior Johnsons Oldsmobile was third, Lennie Pond in the Harry Ranier Chevrolet fourth, and fifth place qualifier was Neil Bonnett in the Rod Osterlund Chevrolet.

Darrell Waltrip stormed into the lead when the green flag waved and led the first 382 laps as his competitors were fighting tire issues and other problems that kept anyone from competing with D.W. Problem was that no one was paying attention to the chassis adjustments the Junior Johnson crew was making on each stop for Cale. Suddenly, he was flying around the track and eating up the three lap deficit to D.W. Finally D.W. had to stop for tires and that was all Cale need to cement the win. He would finish 14 seconds ahead of D.W. for his ninth win of the season.

20,000 fans watched Cale average 97.847 mph for the race as only one caution flag for 4 laps slowed the pace. Cale was jumping up and down with joy with the win and said "that's the kind of race they write movie scripts about". Crew chief for Waltrip, Buddy Parrott, said "out tires wore out. Cale was flying. He never gave up". Bobby Allison, who also suffered major tire issues throughout the race said of Cale's win "I can't understand how Cale went 130 laps on on set of tires. Our tires wore out. Everyone's tires wore out. It may have been another of Junior Johnson's miracles."

Another interesting fact about this race is that the top ten qualifiers all finished in the top ten in the race. Oh, for sure, NOT in their qualifying positions but still in the top ten.

Top five finishers were:

1. Cale Yarborough, Junior Johnson Oldsmobile, winning $14.000.00

2. Darrell Waltrip, DiGard Chevrolet, winning $13,450 (14 seconds behind)

3. Bobby Allison, Bud Moore Ford, winning $6,075.00 (1 lap down)

4. Richard Petty, Petty Enterprises Chevrolet, winning $4,875.00 (3 laps down)

5. Neil Bonnett, Rod Osterlund Chevrolet, winning $4,400.00 (3 laps down)

Sixth through tenth were Benny Parsons, Lennie Pond, Dave Marcis, Dick Brooks and Tighe Scott. Parsons had started 2nd, Lennie Pond 4th, Marcis 9th, Brooks 7th, and Scott 10th.

J. D. McDuffie finished 11th, Buddy Arrington 12th, Richard Childress 13th, James Hylton 16th, Ronnie Thomas 19th, Jimmy Means 23rd, Frank Warren 24th, Dick May 25th, Cecil Gordon 26th.

Honor the past, embrace the present, dream for the future.


updated by @tim-leeming: 12/05/16 04:00:58PM
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
6 years ago
9,129 posts

Like you, Tim - I can't believe 35 years has passed since the event you've recapped.

Today is my late father's birthday. He would be 98 today. After I introduced him to auto racing, he became a huge fan of Junior Johnson and his 70s era Chevys. I guess the highlight for Dad of all the racing trips he accompanied me on was seeing Junior's #3 Charlie Glotzbach Monte Carlo on the pole for the World 600. He loved to watch Cale wheel Junior's Chevy and would have enjoyed your retelling of the North Wilkesboro race.




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
Will Cronkrite
@will-cronkrite
6 years ago
167 posts

Tim, thanks for posting these 'minutes'. This one reminds me that I ran up to Wilkesboro to watch the race, than back home to get the motor in the car for Dales last ride in my car at the upcoming NAPA National 500. Thanks for the memories.

Tim Leeming
@tim-leeming
6 years ago
3,119 posts

Will, I am having a really fun time with these "minutes" and so many of them take me back to that point in time in my life as a race fan, then a driver, then a fan again. I have been so fortunate in all that has happened with my life around racing.

TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
5 years ago
4,019 posts

Race program and ticket stub.

Qualifying report from Spartanburg Herald-Journal . I still remember 1st and 2nd day qualifying sessions. But I guess I'd forgotten about a 2-day average speed qualifying format.

Miss Winston, Cale, Betty Jo and Junior in victory lane. - Getty Images

Race report from Spartanburg Herald-Journal . Click to view larger article in new tab.




--
Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.

updated by @tmc-chase: 10/01/19 12:02:09PM
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
2 weeks ago
4,019 posts

Wilkesboro bump




--
Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.