An Artists Communion Through A Lens

1979 Daytona 500

Cale Yarborough Oldsmobile from the 1979 Daytona 500

The first “live” US national television broadcast of a 500 mile auto race was in 1979.  Until then, even the INDY 500 was shown on tape delay and then only portions of the race.  Held in Florida on 18 February, the “Daytona 500” was seen by a lot of new viewers,  stuck indoors due to a major snowstorm in the Midwest and Northeast.  New “in car” cameras were first used.   Some think it was the most important in NASCAR history because of the new audience and the finish.  On the last lap, the car above and another driven by Donnie Allison “got into it” for the second time that day.  Previously, Yarborough had repaired his car and made up the lost laps.  Both cars now crashed, ending up in the infield while Richard Petty, a half lap behind, won the race.  Still on live national television, a fight started between Cale Yarborough and brothers Donnie and Bobby Allison.  It was a real fight too, with fists, helmets and blood.  Next day, it was the front page story of the New  York Times Sports section.

Cale said “I was going to pass him and win the race, but he turned left and crashed me. So, hell, I crashed him back. If I wasn’t going to get back around, he wasn’t either.”  There was a reason that Cale was driving for Junior Johnson.  Cale had a pretty good year during the rest of the season but he and a lot of other drivers would be getting familiar with a new driver, one who would be named 1979’s Rookie Of The Year, Dale Earnhardt.

Disclaimer: Like most museums, tripods aren’t allowed and there are crowds and ropes and less than great conditions to photograph.   Not a great photograph but a great story.

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