The 1974 National 500 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series (now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series) racing event that took place on October 6, 1974, at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the American community of Concord, North Carolina.
This race was considered to be the 28th race out of the 30 races completed during that year. Weather for this race was forecast from Charlotte/Douglas International Airport; located in nearby Charlotte.
Three hundred and thirty four laps were done on a paved track spanning 1.500 miles (2.414 km). The race lasted four hours, ten minutes, and forty-one seconds. Nine cautions were given out by NASCAR officials for seventy-nine laps.
Notable speeds were: 119.912 miles per hour (192.980 km/h) for the average speed and 158.749 miles per hour (255.482 km/h) for the pole speed.David Pearson defeated Richard Petty in this race by almost 1½ seconds. With a live attendance of 56,000 people, this race could rival today's sports attendance standings.
The race saw several hard crashes. Before the fifth lap was completed a ten-car crash erupted past the start/finish line and involved Buddy Baker, who'd started 40th after he spun in practice and blew his tires, necessitating he change from the tires on which he'd qualified; NASCAR rules at the time requires teams to start the race on the tires on which they'd qualified. Marty Robbins hit the outside wall so hard it required some 37 stitches in his face.
Other incidents occurred following the lengthy cleanup. During the yellow for a spinout by rookie Richie Panch ABC Sports, which filmed the race for air later that year, recorded and aired radio conversation between Petty and crew chief Dale Inman about the incident; this caused commentator Chris Economaki to quip that "I don't drive stock cars and I wish Richard Petty wouldn't do expert commentary."
Late in the race Grant Adcox spun out and was hit in the driver side by Ramo Stott in Turn Four. During the yellow for this wreck a fire erupted in Richard Petty's pit but there were no injuries.
Forty-one American drivers competed; with Earl Ross (from Canada) being the only competitor that wasn't born in the United States of America. Fifteen other drivers with lesser known backgrounds initially failed for this race. This list would grow to include 1974 Indianapolis 500 champion Johnny Rutherford, Joe Frasson, and David Sisco. Most of them did end up qualifying after a "second chance qualifying session" on October 3. Rutherford, the 1974 Indianapolis 500 champion, was driving a third Chevrolet fielded by Junior Johnson, as teammate to Yarborough and Earl Ross.
Other notable names competing in the race were: Darrell Waltrip, Dick Trickle, Ron Keselowski, J.D. McDuffie, Cale Yarborough, and Neil Castles. Bobby Isaac drove a Harry Hyde-prepared Dodge as a teammate to Dave Marcis; it was Isaac's first race in a K&K car since leaving that team after the 1972 Southern 500.
Despite finishing second, Petty effectively clinched the Winston Cup Grand National championship as Yarborough fell out with engine failure.
The day before this race, Dale Earnhardt made his first appearance at Charlotte/Lowe's in the NASCAR Late Model Sportsman race (the predecessor to the Nationwide Series) and finished 13th. This would be the last race for owner Ray Fox, his #3 Dodge Charger finished 29th after a blown engine with Wally Dallenbach Sr. as the driver (also making his last NASCAR start). Darrell Waltrip finished on the lead lap of a Winston Cup race for the first time; it was his sixth top-five finish of the season.
The winner of the race received $22,575 in race winnings ($109,630.41 in when adjusted for inflation) while the last place finisher received $649 in race winnings ($3,151.72 when adjusted for inflation). The lead changed hands 47 times among 11 drivers and was the most competitive Charlotte race in the track's history to that point (the track completed its 15th season of racing).
Even though this race was considered a classic during the 1970s, sparse television coverage has caused it to be lost through the years; a filmed package of the event was aired in late October 1974 on Wide World of Sports. Information about this race has been found in NASCAR's archives and were "unearthed" following David Pearson's induction to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
† signifies that the driver is known to be deceased
* Driver failed to finish race