Saturday, October 1, 2011

October 1 - This day in Petty history - part 2

1972 - Richard Petty scores his 148th career Grand National win in the Wilkes 400 at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Much is made in today's historical reporting about the 'rivalry' between The King Richard Petty and the Silver Fox David Pearson. However, the true rivalry beginning in the late 1960s and continuing through the early 1970s was between the factory-supported Petty and the upstart, independent Bobby Allison.

Program Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers
Richard had established himself as The King by the late 60s. Bobby had established himself as an exceptionally talented 'car guy', a solid on-track racer, and a driver who routinely whined about conspiracies against him when he didn't win. Just as today's drivers such as Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski have said take THAT to the established drivers, Allison did the same in his era.

After a series of minor run-ins prior to 1972, Allison and Petty took it to a different level at Wilkesboro. They beat the absolute snot out of each other lap after lap.
With two laps to go, one car carried the other into the turn 1 guard rail. Somehow, both cars took off again with Allison leading. On the last lap, Richard muscled by Allison again and took the win...
...and Allison crossed the start-finish line with smoke billowing everywhere.

After Richard took the checkers and went to victory lane (the track's frontstretch I think), an Allison fan who disagreed with how things went down decided he'd settle up with Richard. One problem: the one thing Maurice Petty may have done better than build engines for the 43 was fight - especially to defend his brother. The guy got clocked upside the head with Richard's helmet and DING DING DING that was the end of that. (Had Maurice not been successful with his L.L. Cool J's Mama Said Knock You Out approach, I wonder if that Hank Williams Jr. look-alike could have had Richard's back.)

Headline, article and victory photo courtesy of Jerry Bushmire

Edited August 25, 2014

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