Fist fights in any contact sport are not unheard of, and we are most likely going to see fists fly and tempers flare in some of the rougher sports like hockey and football and even basketball. But something that we seldom witness is an all-out brawl in the racing world. One particularly famous slugfest took place during the Daytona 500 back in 1979, and it turned out to be one of the most memorable events in the history of the sport.
What added to the hype was the fact that it was going to be the first time that a race of 500 miles was going to have a live broadcast from beginning to end courtesy of CBS. It was NASCAR's idea to cook up a little something special for the Daytona 500 of '79.
Back in the day, races like the Indianapolis 500 were shown on replays in the evening while only half of other race events, the second half or the end part, was usually aired. So racing fans really got more than they bargained for on that fateful day back in 1979, enjoying not just a great race in the Daytona 500 but a little sideshow from the drivers as well.
The 1979 Daytona 500 fiasco
All the craziness happened during the last lap of the race when there was a crash that involved the race leaders. The drivers involved were brothers Donnie and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Allison –">Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough.
It all started when Cale Yarborough tried to slingshot around Donnie Allison. Unfortunately, Donnie moved with Cale and Cale most likely tried to veer away but ended up partially on the infield which caused him to lose control. It resulted in a collision between Donnie and Cale's cars which took them skidding into a wall before ending up on the infield.
Bobby Allison stopped and jumped out of his car to check if both drivers were okay. Instead, Cale, who felt like he was being blocked by Bobby on the final lap, started to holler at him and then hit him right in the face with a helmet. And then, as Donnie mentioned during an interview, the rest was history.
Richard Petty ended up winning the '79 Daytona 500. Oh, and here's a fun fact. The driver who finished eighth was Dale Earnhardt, still a rookie back then, and he would eventually tie Petty's record for number of Cup titles.
For better or worse
Fighting in any sport, or any situation for that matter is never a good thing. It just leaves a negative image in our minds. It's even worse when it happens in a sport where fighting is unlikely going to break out because it just sends the wrong message across.
However, the brawl that took place in the '79 Daytona 500 certainly generated a lot of attention for NASCAR. At least in terms of that, maybe it wasn't all negative.
Whatever your take on that historic event, let's just keep things in perspective. Fighting is bad and should be avoided as much as possible. And NASCAR and stock car racing remain iconic fixtures in the world of motorsport.