August 27, 1972 - 250 Miles - Purse $31,955

The start of the race was delayed an hour and 15 minutes as crews repaired a pothole that developed in turn two.  As the race progressed, the pothole began to resurface much to the dismay of the drivers.  At the time, the track had 35 degree banking.  The steepness of the banking required that the roller be secured by a heavy-duty wrecker(Ted Marchman photo)



Darrell Waltrip shows off his 1971 Mercury to some friends

 


Bobby Allison (pictured at right with car owners Richard Howard and Junior Johnson in Victory Lane) captured his first Winston Cup Grand National victory at the Fairgrounds in a controversial win over Richard Petty.  Petty ran an officials "stop" paddle after making a pit stop on lap 344.  A visibly angry Petty pounded on the wheel of his 1972 STP Plymouth while NASCAR officials held him for a one lap penalty. 

Local favorite Darrell Waltrip finished 3rd in the event in his independently owned Mercury.  The car had began life as a 1967 Holman-Moody Ford and  captured the 67 Daytona 500 with Mario Andretti at the wheel. The car was rebodied as a 71 Mercury and used by Waltrip 17 times during his career.  The best finish for the car would be a second in the 1973 Alamo 500 at Texas World Speedway

1970 Pole Sitter Lee Roy Yarbrough "quit" the race on lap one. This would be his last start at the Fairgrounds.

Fan favorites Coo Coo Marlin and Bobby Isaac wrecked before completing lap one.

In a post-race interview, Bobby Allison stated "The pits need to be reworked. You have to circle around and go the wrong way. It can be dangerous." The Hueytown, Alabama native went on to add, "You're never safe here."

 

The Ford Thunderbirds of Charlie Roberts (77) and Henley Gray (19), perhaps two of the largest cars to ever compete in NASCAR 

   

Bobby Allison battles Richard Petty down the front straight while the lights of fairgrounds rides serve as a colorful backdrop.



Cecil Gordon heads into turn three during qualifying his qualifying run. He would start 4th on the grid.
 


 The Junior Johnson team hauler dominates the infield of Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway


The Junior Johnson team prepares the Coca-Cola Chevrolet for Bobby Allison


The cars of Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison race past the Plymouth of John Sears.



James Hylton celebrates his 38th birthday in the shade of his truck


Teams unload prior to first practice session for the 1972 Nashville 420
 

The Winston Cup leader board, parked on the front stretch of the speedway
 

Harry Hyde and the crew make last minute adjustments to the 1972 Dodge of driver Bobby Isaac.


                                             "I Quit": The End of the Road for Lee Roy Yarbrough

During the late sixties, there was perhaps no other driver who epitomized the hard charging character of NASCAR more than LeeRoy Yarbrough.  The Jacksonville, Florida native’s name became synonymous with winning as he reigned dominate in the white Junior Johnson-prepared Ford’s and Mercury’s.  In 1969, Yarbrough captured an impressive 7 victories and 21 top-tens in 30 races.  He would win 14 races in total during his all-to-short career. Junior Johnson would describe Yarbrough as “The best driver I ever had.”  

Yarbrough tried his hand at Indy Car racing and led the inaugural California 500 at Ontario in 1970.  Unfortunately, in April 1970, he suffered a hard crash at a test session at Texas World Speedway (lost). This crash caused Yarbrough to have significant mental issues accompanied by memory loss. 

Factory pull-outs and other issues caused Yarbrough to drop down to a second-tier team for the 1972 NASCAR Winston Cup season.  He would drive the 45 car for journeyman driver Bill Siefert.  The team would put together an incredible run with Yarbrough placing in the Top-Five 5 times and the Top-Ten 9 times. 

When I saw Yarbrough at Nashville in August 1972, he looked a bit different than he did a few years before.  His hair was long and he looked rough.  Yarbrough qualified 13th in the Siefert Mercury and I looked for him to have a good race. However, as the field headed to the flag stand to complete the first lap, the 45 car pulled into the pits.  Yarbrough climbed out of his powder blue Mercury and stated “I quit.”  He would run two more races during the 1972 season, crashing out of each race early.  His career had come to an end.

In February 1980, Yarbrough would attempt to kill his 65 year-old mother. For that action, he would be committed to a Florida State Mental Facility.  Yarbrough had suffered brain trauma from his crashes and he had also contracted Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. He would die of a seizure on December 7, 1984. 

Perhaps fellow driver James Hylton summed it up best by stating “that doggone tick. The Rocky Mountain spotted fever—if it goes untreated, it’s a mental thing, and it’ll drive you insane. They gave Lee Roy so much medication when they finally did treat it that it eventually caused his death. He just deteriorated to the point where he was unmanageable. The man did not deserve that. Lee Roy was one of the good ones.”

Rest in Peace LeeRoy.

Average Speed:   92.578 mph Time of Race:      2:42:14 Margin:     10 car lengths
Pole Winner:        Bobby Allison 116.932 mph Attendance::      19,500 Cautions    3 for 53 laps
Lap Leaders:  Bobby Allison 1-42, Cecil Gordon 43, Richard Petty 44-167, Allison 168-324, Petty 325-327, Allison 328-336, Petty 337-344, Allison 345 - 420
 
DriDriver Fin Str Car Team / Owner Car Laps Money Status Led
Bobby Allison 1 1 12 Coca-Cola -
Richard Howard
72 Chevrolet 420 6,925 Running 283
Richard Petty 2 2 43 STP - Petty Enterprises 72 Plymouth 420 5,010 Running 136
Darrell Waltrip 3 12 95 Terminal Transport -
Darrell Waltrip
71 Mercury 404 2,040 Running 0
Benny Parsons 4 6 72 Pop Kola - L.G. Dewitt 71 Mercury 400 1,630 Running 0
Elmo Langley 5 8 64 Clyde Lynn Auto Parts - Elmo Lanlgey 71 Ford 387 1,400 Running 0
Cecil Gordon 6 4 24 Collins & Aikman - Cecil Gordon 71 Mercury 383 1,125 Running 1
Henley Gray 7 18 19 Henley Gray 71 T-Bird 381 1,025 Running 0
James Hylton 8 9 48 Pop Kola - Hylton Engineering 71 Ford 369 925 Running 0
Walter Ballard 9 25 30 Hekimian Foreign Parts - Ballard Racing 71 Mercury 363 875 Running 0
J.D. McDuffie 10 17 70 J.D. McDuffie 71 Chevrolet 357 850 Running 0
D.K. Ulrich 11 19 40 Noel's Auto Parts - D K Ulrich 71 Ford 320 560 Running 0
John Sears 12 28 4 J. Marvin Mills 70 Plymouth 277 800 Engine Failure 0
Earl Brooks 13 15 26 Earl Brooks 71 Ford 158 540 Rear End 0
Frank Warren 14 21 79 Frank Warren 70 Plymouth 153 775 Drive Shaft 0
David Ray Boggs 15 24 57 David Ray Boggs 70 Dodge 118 485 Engine 0
Richard Childress 16 23 96 Richard Childress 71 Chevrolet 106 445 Steering 0
David Sisco 17 7 5 Charlie McGee 72 Chevrolet 105 415 Rocker Arm 0
Raymond Williams 18 27 47 Jet Way Wax -
Raymond Williams
71 Ford 56 615 Crash 0
Charlie Roberts 19 20 77 Sunny King Ford - Charlie Roberts 71 T-Bird 46 565 Broken Brake Line 0
Ben Arnold 20 10 76 Ben Arnold 71 Ford 40 515 Crash 0
Robert Brown 21 16 58 Allan Brown 70 Chevrolet 37 245 Engine Failure - crash 0
Jabe Thomas 22 26 25 Don Robertson 70 Plymouth 37 485 Crash 0
Dean Dalton 23 11 7 Belden Asphalt - Dean Dalton 71 Mercury 34 480 Crash 0
George Altheide 24 22 0 George Altheide 70 Dodge 29 225 Steering 0
Bill Champion 25 14 10 Bill Champion 71 Ford 3 475 Engine Failure 0

Coo Coo Marlin 26 3 14 Cunningham-Kelly - H.B. Cunningham 71 Chevrolet 0 300 Crash 0
Bobby Isaac 27 5 71 K&K Insurance - Nord Krauskopf 71 Dodge 0 1,750 Crash 0
Lee Roy Yarbrough 28 13 45 Porter Ford -
Bill Seifert
71 Ford 0 475 Quit 0