|Official name Southern 500|
|Date September 5, 1976 (1976-September-05)|
Location Darlington Raceway, Darlington, South Carolina
Course Permanent racing facility 1.375 mi (2.212 km)
Distance 367 laps, 500.5 mi (805.4 km)
Weather Warm with temperatures reaching a maximum of 84.9 °F (29.4 °C); wind speeds of 7 miles per hour (11 km/h)
The 1976 Southern 500 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing event that took place on September 5, 1976, at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina.
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.
The race took four hours and nine minutes for David Pearson to defeat Richard Petty by nearly three seconds. This would give Pearson a win in all three "crown jewel" events of 1976; the Daytona 500, the World 600, and this race. Souvenir programs were handed out at the race for only $2 ($8.42 when adjusted for inflation). Soft drinks were sold at the event in addition to French fries, hot dogs, and hamburgers.
Eight cautions were given for 65 laps in front of a live audience of 70000 people. There were 31 lead changes and the average speed of the race was 120.534 miles per hour (193.981 km/h). Forty drivers were on the starting grid; all the drivers were born in the United States of America. Most of the drivers in the race brought Chevrolet vehicles into the race. There were only three Ford entries and two entries by the drivers Mercury automobiles.
The entire racing purse was worth $169,700 ($714,228.60 when adjusted for inflation). Pearson would receive $16,155 of the total purse ($67,992.71 when adjusted for inflation) while last-place finisher Darrell Bryant would receive only $1,135 of the total winnings ($4,776.96 when adjusted for inflation).