Talladega opened in 1969 amidst controversy - and a lot of what happened at the track in the years to follow got even more bizarre. On race morning of the 1974 Talladega 500, many teams discovered their cars had been sabotaged overnight. To my knowledge, no one was ever caught.
Some early action featuring Bobby Isaac in Hoss Ellington's #28 Chevy, Bobby Allison in the #12 Penske Matador, and Coo Coo Marlin in the red and gold #14 Chevy. At the back of this pack is the recognizable purple and yellow Dodge of country singer Marty Robbins who had great day with a 9th place finish.
Buddy Baker was the lap bully of the day. He led 98 of the race's 188 laps and pulled the King behind him most of the day. In the late stages, the two had a comfortable lead over Pearson.
With 20 to go, the trio pitted for the final time. The 43 got the edge off pit road and Baker tried to latch on to the bumper. Bad luck bit Baker as it did often in his career. His Bud Moore problems developed drive train issues and he faded to a sixth place finish and three laps down to the leader. Petty was then all alone out front with a sizable lead over Pearson. But as often happens in racing, a late caution flew - the final one for a blown engine.
When the green was unfurled again, Petty gapped Pearson by a few car lengths. But the 21 was able to close the gap and draft by the 43 to take the lead with 3 to go. Coming out of turn 4 of the last lap, Petty headed to the outside. Pearson countered by moving up to block. When he did, Petty hooked it right and side drafted to Pearson's inside. The two banged door-to-door as they headed through the tri-oval, and the Petty blue and STP day-glo red Dodge Charger nipped the Purolator Mercury at the line.
|Source: Gadsden Times via Google News Archive|
|Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire|
Edited August 9, 2014