Monday, January 23, 2012

January 23 - This day in Petty history

1972 - Richard Petty wins the Winston Western 500 at Riverside International Raceway in southern California. Scheduled for 191 laps on the road course, the race is shortened to 149 laps because of dense fog.

Though the race was not the first one at Riverside, the event was known for the first time as the Winston Western 500. R.J. Reynolds' Winston cigarettes began sponsoring NASCAR's top series in 1971 and took over title sponsorship of Riverside's season-opening race in 1972.

Source: Motor Racing Programme Covers
The win was Petty's 141st victory - and his first with STP as his primary sponsor. Even the most casual NASCAR fan knows Richard Petty for his autograph, cowboy hat, sunglasses, and mustache. And many more easily associate the iconic day-glo STP red and Petty blue colors as a natural fit for the 43.

The combination of the two colors, however, almost didn't happen. The sponsorship agreement between STP and Petty Enterprises was reached just a few days before the Riverside race. But let Richard tell the story of what almost happened ... and what did happen.

As Richard said and history knows, the two parties agreed on the details. The press conference was held, and then Richard flew on to Riverside.

The newly-labeled STP Plymouth as it raced ... and won ... at Riverside:

Credit for following two photos to Beentherebefore at the H.A.M.B. at

A final 'first' for the race - The event was the first NASCAR Winston Cup star as a car owner for the now legendary Roger Penske. His driver, Mark Donahue, started an AMC Matador but finished 39th in the 40-car field. No worries though as The Captain went to have a modicum of success in the decades to follow.


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