|Race 22 of 28 in the 1973 NASCAR Winston Cup Series|
Layout of Darlington Raceway
|Date||September 3, 1973|
|Official name||Southern 500|
|Location||Darlington Raceway, Darlington, South Carolina|
|Course||1.375 mi (2.212 km)|
|Distance||367 laps, 500.5 mi (805.4 km)|
Race start time: Extremely hot with temperatures approaching 95 °F (35 °C)
|Average speed||134.033 miles per hour (215.705 km/h)|
|Driver||Wood Brothers Racing|
|Most laps led|
|Driver||Cale Yarborough||Howard & Egerton Racing|
|No. 11||Cale Yarborough||Howard & Egerton Racing|
|Television in the United States|
Bill Flemming |
|Radio in the United States|
|Radio||Darlington Universal Racing Network (URN)|
|Booth Announcers||Dave "Silver Throat" Rogers, Hal Hamrick|
|Turn Announcers||Charlie Bailey, Paul Sexton, Earl Kelley, Dick Jones|
The 1973 Southern 500, the 24th running of the event, was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing event held on September 3, 1973, at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina. This race would highlight the relative lack of safety involved when an engine-related oil spill caused four cars to spin out on the track before a caution flag settled things back down to normal.
Bud Moore would ultimately leave the NASCAR Cup Series as a driver after the conclusion of this event. Only manual transmission vehicles were allowed to participate in this race; a policy that NASCAR has retained to the present day.
Darlington Raceway, nicknamed by many NASCAR fans and drivers as "The Lady in Black" or "The Track Too Tough to Tame" and advertised as a "NASCAR Tradition", is a race track built for NASCAR racing located near Darlington, South Carolina. It is of a unique, somewhat egg-shaped design, an oval with the ends of very different configurations, a condition which supposedly arose from the proximity of one end of the track to a minnow pond the owner refused to relocate. This situation makes it very challenging for the crews to set up their cars' handling in a way that will be effective at both ends.
The track is a four-turn 1.366 miles (2.198 km) oval. The track's first two turns are banked at twenty-five degrees, while the final two turns are banked two degrees lower at twenty-three degrees. The front stretch (the location of the finish line) and the back stretch is banked at six degrees. Darlington Raceway can seat up to 60,000 people.
Jim Vandiver, who was dealing with a child custody case with his first wife, was to appear in a Greenville, South Carolina court on Friday, August 31 for a hearing. He was assured by his lawyer that appearing would not be necessary because he was expected in Darlington. The judge at the hearing did not consider this grounds for absence, and found Vandiver in contempt of court. An arrest warrant was issued.
|1||21||David Pearson||'71 Mercury||Wood Brothers|
|2||12||Bobby Allison||'73 Chevrolet||Bobby Allison|
|3||43||Richard Petty||'73 Dodge||Petty Enterprises|
|4||15||Darrell Waltrip||'72 Ford||Bud Moore|
|5||71||Buddy Baker||'73 Dodge||Nord Krauskopf|
|6||28||Charlie Glotzbach||'73 Chevrolet||Hoss Ellington|
|7||73||Benny Parsons||'73 Chevrolet||L.G. DeWitt|
|8||11||Cale Yarborough||'73 Chevrolet||Richard Howard|
|9||54||Lennie Pond||'73 Chevrolet||Ronnie Elder|
|10||77||Charlie Roberts||'72 Chevrolet||Charlie Roberts|
|11||18||Joe Frasson||'73 Dodge||Joe Frasson|
|12||67||Buddy Arrington||'72 Dodge||Buddy Arrington|
|13||24||Cecil Gordon||'72 Chevrolet||Cecil Gordon|
|14||14||Coo Coo Marlin||'72 Chevrolet||H.B. Cunningham|
|15||49||G.C. Spencer||'72 Dodge||G.C. Spencer|
|16||31||Jim Vandiver||'72 Dodge||O.L. Nixon|
|17||64||Elmo Langley||'72 Ford||Elmo Langley|
|18||03||Tommy Gale||'71 Mercury||Tommy Gale|
|19||29||Dick May||'71 Mercury||Bill Hollar|
|20||48||James Hylton||'71 Mercury||James Hylton|
Two Greenville County sheriff's deputies arrived at Darlington on race day. In Darlington Raceway president Barney Wallace's office, they informed him of their intent to arrest Vandiver on the contempt charge. Wallace convinced them to make their arrest after the race. Neil Castles had been in Wallace's office at the time, overheard this conversation, and informed Vandiver before the race.
Early in the race, Roy Mayne relieved Jabe Thomas in his car. NASCAR points structure meant that Thomas would receive the points for Mayne's finish. Other drivers took advantage of a relief driver, in part because of the very hot day. Richard Petty was one of these.
40 drivers competed in this race; only one foreigner competed - Canadian-born Vic Parsons. This event took three hours and forty-four minutes to complete 367 laps. Richard Childress was credited as the last-place finisher due to a problem with his stock car engine on lap 19. Frank Warren was the lowest-finishing driver to complete the event while being nearly 100 laps behind the lead lap cars.
Jim Vandiver, who was already nursing a problematic engine, would deliberately spin his car on lap 223, on Darlington's backstretch. This caused a caution, and in a break in race traffic, Vandiver jumped the back fence and left raceway property. From there, he hitchhiked home to Monroe, North Carolina, and thus avoided arrest on race day.
Cale Yarborough defeated David Pearson under caution in front of the collective eyes of 70,000 loyal NASCAR followers. Ironically, Pearson would qualify for the pole position by driving speeds up to 150.366 miles per hour (241.991 km/h) during the solo qualifying sessions. Average race speeds would end up being 134.033 miles per hour (215.705 km/h) due to the seven yellow flags that NASCAR officials handed out for a duration of 37 laps.Chevrolet and Ford were the dominant manufacturers at this racing event. Richard D. Brown suddenly quit this race on lap 30 for no apparent reason.
Individual race earnings for each driver ranged from the winner's portion of $23,140 ($127,564.89 when adjusted for inflation) to the last-place finisher's portion of $1,700 ($9,371.66 when adjusted for inflation). NASCAR officials authorized a total amount of $126,725 to be handed out to every qualifying driver on the conclusion of this event ($698,602.44 when adjusted for inflation).
* Driver failed to finish race