Auto racing -- particularly the NASCAR Grand National tour -- in the United States was billed as "The Sport of the 1970s" as the new decade approached. With new, ultra-modern facilities popping up all over the country and millions of dollars being poured into NASCAR stock racing by the automotive factories, the sport seemed to be on a roll.
Despite the overall rosy appearance, the earth was rumbling a bit within the NASCAR domain. Most of the licensed NASCAR Grand National drivers had formed a union called the Professional Drivers Association. The drivers were serious about gaining awareness from NASCAR about conditions at the speedways, including the alarmingly high speeds, the amount of time teams had to spend at a track to prepare for a race, the perceived lack of posted awards, and amenities for the competitors.
Even with behind-the-scenes friction, the 1970 NASCAR tour produced many great moments. This article will cover the highlights of the season, and give you the year's full standings, along with plenty of great pictures.
January 18, 1970
A.J. Foyt's Ford nips Roger McCluskey's Plymouth Superbird to win the season opener at Riverside. Five-time Riverside winner Dan Gurney finishes sixth.
Cale Yarborough leads Tiny Lund in a close battle for the lead in the early laps of the Feb. 22 Daytona 500. Cale blew an engine on the 31st lap while leading. Lund encountered overheating problems and finished 13th. In the Twin 125-mile qualifying race three days before the 500, Yarborough won at an average speed of 183.295 mph, an official race speed record that stood for 14 years. See more pictures of NASCAR.
February 19, 1970
Cale Yarborough and Charlie Glotzbach win the Twin 125-mile qualifiers at Daytona. Rookie Talmadge Prince is fatally injured in a 19th-lap crash in the second qualifier.
February 22, 1970: Daytona 500
Pete Hamilton, recently signed to drive a Petty Enterprises Plymouth, posts an upset victory in the Daytona 500. Hamilton passes Ford's David Pearson with nine laps to go and wins by three car lengths.
March 1, 1970: Richmond 500
James Hylton holds off a furious rally by Richard Petty to win the Richmond 500. It is Hylton's first career NASCAR Grand National win and his first start in a Ford after campaigning a Dodge for four years.
On March 24, Buddy Baker took Chrysler's company car, a royal blue Dodge Daytona, to Talladega for a special world record attempt for a closed circuit. In an officially timed run, Baker became the first driver to surpass the magic 200-mph barrier on a closed oval. His best lap was 200.447 mph.
March 24, 1970
During a Goodyear tire test at Talladega, Buddy Baker becomes the first man to break the 200-mph barrier on a closed course. Baker turns in a lap of 200.447 mph to establish himself as the "Fastest Man on Four Wheels."
April 12, 1970: Alabama 500
Pete Hamilton cruises to victory in the Alabama 500 at Talladega as ABC Sports televises the second half of the race live to a nationwide audience. The network squeezes the three hour and 17 minute race into a 90-minute time slot.
April 18, 1970: Gwyn Staley Memorial 400
Richard Petty breezes to an easy win in the Gwyn Staley Memorial 400 at North Wilkesboro, the second event televised live by ABC Sports. Petty leads 349 of the 400 laps, and is ahead of the pack every lap shown during the live telecast.
Pete Hamilton's #40 Plymouth Superbird passes #34 Wendell Scott and John Sears on the short chute at Alabama International Motor Speedway during the Alabama 500. Hamilton took the lead 18 laps from the finish and recorded his second win of the 1970 season. Hamilton, in his second full season in NASCAR Grand National racing, was the superspeedway sensation in 1970, winning the Daytona 500 and both events at Talladega.
May 9, 1970: Rebel 400
David Pearson scores his first win of the season in the Rebel 400 at Darlington. Richard Petty is injured when his Plymouth flips on the front chute. ABC Sports picks up live coverage a few minutes before Petty's crash.
May 24, 1970: Charlotte World 600
Donnie Allison finishes two laps ahead of the field to win the Charlotte World 600. Fred Lorenzen ends a three-year retirement with a competitive run, but exits with a blown engine after 378 miles. ABC cameras join the race in progress for the fourth live telecast of the season.
July 25, 1970: Nashville 420
Bobby Isaac dominates the Nashville 420, finishing two laps ahead of the field. Only nine cars finish the grueling race, which is televised in part by ABC Sports. Third-place finisher Neil Castles finishes 26 laps behind Isaac.
August 16, 1970
Restrictor plates make their first appearance in NASCAR racing at Michigan International Speedway. Charlie Glotzbach drives a winged Dodge Daytona to victory under the caution flag.
Number 8 Ed Negre, #61 Hoss Ellington, and #34 Wendell Scott hustle down the front chute in the Sept. 7 Southern 500 at Darlington. Negre had an unusual sponsor for his self-owned NASCAR Grand National team. Negre's Ford Torino Talladega was sponsored by Pyramid Motors, a small Carolina Chrysler-Plymouth dealership. None of the trio finished in the top 10. Negre experienced engine problems and finished 36th. Ellington placed 18th, and Scott came home 17th.
September 30, 1970
The final dirt-track race in NASCAR Grand National history is run at State Fairgrounds Speedway in Raleigh, N.C. Richard Petty wins in a Don Robertson-owned Plymouth.
October 4, 1970
Legendary NASCAR driver Curtis Turner perishes in a private plane crash in Pennsylvania. Bobby Isaac finishes first in the 250-miler at North Wilkesboro Speedway.
November 15, 1970: American 500
Cale Yarborough hustles to victory in the American 500 at Rockingham, and announces from victory lane that he will move to the USAC Indy Car trail in 1971.
November 19, 1970
Ford announces that it will cut back its factory effort in 1971. Jacques Passino, director of Ford's racing program, quits the company.
Bobby Isaac drove the K&K Insurance Dodge to the 1970 NASCAR Grand National championship. Team owner Nord Krauskopf started his operation in 1966 with a five-year plan to win the NASCAR title. With Isaac driving and Harry Hyde filling the role of crew chief, Krauskopf realized his dream in the allotted time frame. Isaac won 11 races and finished second nine times in 47 starts.
November 22, 1970
Bobby Allison captures the season finale at Hampton, Va., as Bobby Isaac is declared the 1970 NASCAR Grand National champion.
R.J. Reynolds announces its Winston brand of cigarettes will become the title sponsor of NASCAR's premier stock car racing series. The official title will be NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National Series.
See the next section to learn the full results of the 1970 NASCAR Grand National season.
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1970 NASCAR Grand National StandingsBobby Isaac overtook James Hylton in late August and won the 1970 NASCAR Grand National championship. It was the most competitive title chase in NASCAR history. A total of seven drivers swapped the points lead on 12 occasions during the 48-race campaign, a record that still stands.
1970 NASCAR Grand National Champion Bobby Isaac
Isaac moved to the front with a runner-up finish in the Talladega 500 and stayed atop the standings for the final 14 events. Hylton lost his fading hopes for the championship when he crashed in Charlotte's National 500 in October. Bobby Allison surged past Hylton to capture second place in the final standings, 51 points behind Isaac.
For the second straight year, Richard Petty's hopes for a third title were dashed when he missed five races due to an injury suffered at Darlington. The King managed to climb to fourth place in the standings at the end of the season.
The seven drivers who led the points standings at one point in the 1970 season were Isaac, Hylton, Allison, Petty, Dave Marcis, Neil Castles, and LeeRoy Yarbrough. See the chart below for the complete 1970 NASCAR Grand National Standings.
1970 NASCAR Grand National Standings
||Dr. Don Tarr
||Coo Coo Marlin
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