DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The 1979 Daytona 500 is remembered as one of the most memorable and significant NASCAR races of all-time.
For the first time in history, CBS Sports broadcasted the entire Daytona 500 flag-to-flag on live television with Ken Squier, David Hobbs and Chris Economaki serving as the booth announcers.
With a major snowstorm keeping most of the nation inside their houses, fans were able to tune in on television and watch the epic final lap battle between Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison.
Neither Yarborough nor Allison ever made it to the checkered flag. On the backstretch, Yarborough pulled out to make a pass on Allison and the two drivers began beating and banging on each other until finally crashing entering Turn 3.
Richard Petty benefited from the crash and held off Darrell Waltrip and A.J. Foyt to win his sixth Daytona 500.
As Petty celebrated, one of the landmark moments in the history of NASCAR took place in Turn 3 as Yarborough and Allison began a heated debate that turned into a fist fight with Allison’s brother Bobby jumping into the fray.
Donnie Allison, reflecting on the 1979 race prior to the 50th running of the Daytona 500 in 2008, said he never would have imagined crashing out in Turn 3 on the last lap.
“If I had to do it over, and I know what I know now, I would have done something different,” Allison said. “But to be perfectly honest, it caught me by surprise. It caught everybody by surprise because how many times in the 50 years they run the Daytona 500 have you seen the leader and the second-place car wreck coming off of Turn 2. Turn 4 yes. I expected something to happen down there.”
Many of today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers look back on the 1979 Daytona 500 as one of those landmark moments in the history of the sport.
“That was huge,” said Richard Childress Racing’s Jeff Burton said. “I think it has a lot to do with how big the sport is today.”
“It was a great race and a fun finish,” said two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip, who attended the 1979 race as a fan in the grandstands. “The whole East Coast obviously was inundated with a snow storm so a lot people noticed what we were doing back then.”
Tickets for the NASCAR’s biggest, richest and most prestigious race – the 55th annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 24 – start at $65 and are available at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
For the second straight year, the Speedway is offering special youth pricing for the Daytona 500. Children 12 and under will receive 50 percent off all backstretch grandstand seats for the Daytona 500 while supplies last. In addition, children 12 and under are free in the Sprint FANZONE throughout Budweiser Speedweeks.
Fans can follow NASCAR on Twitter (@NASCAR) and stay up to speed on the latest news by using hashtags #NASCAR and #DAYTONA500. In addition, fans can also stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest for all the latest news all season long.