Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May 1 - This day in Petty history

1983 - Starting 15th, Richard Petty leads 52 laps - including the final 24 - and beats Benny Parsons to the line by two car lengths to capture his 197th career race in the Winston 500 at Talladega.

The win was Richard's next to last victory driving for Petty Enterprises. After winning once more at Charlotte in the fall, he left Petty Enterprises after the '83 season to drive for Curb Motorsports. He won twice - 199 and 200 - for Curb in 1984.

Kyle Petty finished 30th in his #7 Petty Enterprises, green-white-orange 7-Eleven Pontiac after being caught up in The Big One.

Darrell Waltrip raced a one-time only white Pepsi paint scheme. His yellow Pepsi Challenger Chevy scheme was unique enough in its own right. But the white one was almost comically bad.

Courtesy of Ray Lamm
A couple of other notable trivia items about this race:
  • Morgan-McClure Racing made its debut in this race with Tennessee's Connie Saylor behind the wheel. The team had a myriad of drivers in its early years but really came of age in the 1990s with drivers such as Ernie Irvan and Sterling Marlin.
  • Perennial independent driver Jimmy Means notched his career best finish - 7th - in this race.
 Around lap 70, Waltrip cut a tire and got into Phil Parsons' #66 Skoal Pontiac just a little bit. But it was enough to get Parsons really messed up and Talladega's typical Big One began. Several cars including Kyle's #7 Pontiac were eliminated from the race. Though he barrel-rolled about a dozen times and was taken to the hospital, Parsons was not injured critically - nor did the other drivers get hurt. (Don't bang your computer or speakers. The following video clip does not have audio.)

Today, the wrecked hulk of Parsons' Pontiac sits in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame adjacent to Talladega Superspeedway.

Credit to & courtesy of Brian Cleary / bcpix.com
'Bumpertag', a fellow member at RacersReunion.com remembers:
I've been a Richard Petty fan since 1972 and started going to races in 1973. When I helped on the crew of James Hylton in 1983, I saw Richard win at Talladega. This was an amazing race from the pits. I watched Petty go to the outside in the tri-oval many times that day and pass cars running side by side all day. He would go 3-wide. When they hit the short chute to turn 1, he would be in the fastest line and make the pass. When he won, I stood in the middle of pit road so I could see him approach and turn into Victory Lane. That was the last race I saw Petty win, but it was amazing.
The finish! Richard takes the victory with Phil Parsons' older brother Benny in hot pursuit. Lake Speed finished third.

Source: Stock Car Racing magazine

Photo courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
The whole team got to celebrate in victory lane.
The race was featured in Stock Car Racing magazine.

NSSN cover courtesy of Russ Thompson
Article courtesy of Jerry Bushmire

Edited: April 30, 2014

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