Today, February 15, 2009, is the 33rd anniversary of the 1976 Daytona 500. Many view the 1976 edition as the 2nd most memorable of all time - second only to the 1979 500 where Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison wrecked and fought while Richard Petty went on to win his 6th Daytona 500 victory.
The 1976 Daytona 500 was shown nationwide; however, it wasn't shown flag-to-flag like the 1979 edition. ABC's Wide World of Sports joined it off-and-on during the race and then carried the last handful of laps.
Richard was coming off a spectacular 1975 season - 13 wins and his 6th championship. Pearson, who ran a limited schedule for the Wood Brothers for much of the 70s, had a moderately successful 1975 but was not poised to rip off an incredible 1976 season.
The finish came down to two long-time competitive but respectful drivers - The King and The Silver Fox, David Pearson. In an era of aero-dirty cars with unrestricted engines, drivers had the ability to pass using the sling-shot. Pearson and Petty battled back and forth the entire last lap before settling it in turn four. The King misjudged the rear of his Dodge and the front of Pearson's Mercury. When he clipped him...well just watch for yourself. Let's put it this way. The King COULD have been the only driver to win 8 Daytona 500s vs. the 7 he's got.