FEB 20th 2015

Video: 'Flat‑out and Fearless' – the 1976 Daytona 500

After last week’s sensational example of the 2015 Festival of Speed theme ‘Flat-out and Fearless: Racing on the Edge, and with the Daytona 500 kicking off the NASCAR season this Sunday, we though we’d stay Stateside for another week.

Mind you, we’re sure you’ll agree that this footage requires no apologies whatsoever. Considered by some NASCAR fans as the greatest finish there’s ever been (there is, we must add, a lot of competition in that department!) , this clip shows the final stages of the 1976 Daytona 500.

The protagonists are ‘The King’ Richard Petty in his familiar Plymouth and David Pearson in a Mercury. Petty is leading going in to the last lap but Pearson reels the living legend in bit-by-bit and passes him going into the final turn. Predictably, the greatest NASCAR driver of all time is having none of this and manages to get back in front with only a simple sprint along Daytona’s famous final straight (which is actually a gentle curve) to glory.

However, the two cars (which are way ahead of the rest of the field) touch, begin to spin, agonisingly strike the wall and end up on the grassy infield. One of them spins to a stop while the other continues, still spinning and heavily damaged, in the direction of the finishing line. The commentator, who by now is understandably a bit excited, announces that ‘he’s gonna win it spinning!’ but the car comes to a halt yards before the line, leaving the other to limp home for the win.

Bear in mind that the final stages of this race were shown live on national television and you get some sense of the excitement surrounding the finish.

Oh and by the way, can anyone tell who the guest commentator is? 

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