April 8, 1973
“Gwyn Staley 400”

Top 5 finishers.....

Happy Birthday, Mr. Enoch Staley. It was Staley’s 55th birthday. It was one of three occasions in which NASCAR’s premier series ran at NWS on his birthday—1956, 1973 and 1984. During the pre-race ceremonies, a “surprise” party was held. Richard Petty read a special tribute to Staley.

Let’s go racin'.....

Richard Petty qualified on the outside pole with a lap of 21.225seconds/106.006mph. Petty took the lead from the start and led the first three laps. Petty also led laps 11-84, and in dominating fashion, laps 91-400. He won by over 4 laps. It was Petty’s 10th career win at North Wilkesboro and his 151st career NASCAR victory.

Benny Parsons started 6th (21.384seconds/105.219mph) and finished 2nd. Parsons led briefly during laps 85-90. Did you know that while Parsons was driving in NASCAR he was also president of the Ellerbe (NC) primary school Parent-Teacher Association? A PTA president and NASCAR Champion........interesting.

Buddy Baker started the race from the seventh position—21.435seconds/104.969mph. Baker finished 3rd. As he did in the fall race of 1972, Baker drove the #71 K & K Insurance Dodge owned by Nord Krauskopf. That car was previously driven by Bobby Isaac.

Bobby Allison finished 4th in the race. His qualifying lap of 21.077seconds/106.750 landed him on the pole. It was Allison’s second of five starts from the pole at NWS. Like Parsons, Allison led briefly during laps 4-10. Unlike so many of the Petty-Allison battles at NWS, this day belonged to Petty.

A qualifying lap of 21.323sec/105.520mph gave Cecil Gordon a fifth place starting position. He finished in the same position at the end of the day. Gordon never won a Cup race in his 450 starts, but he was popular with the drivers and fans. He showed up week after week. After he finished driving, Cecil Gordon worked for Richard Childress as a gear specialist and mechanic. He was a member of Earnhardt’s crew. He then went on to be the crew chief for Jimmy Spencer and the Smokin’ Joe’s team.

The race lasted 2 hours, 34 minutes, 17 seconds. There was just one caution period which lasted nine laps. 20 of the 30 cars entered were running at the finish. James Hylton improved the most spots during the race. He moved up 16 positions from 24th to 8th. Cale Yarborough returned to NWS for the first time in 4 ½ years. He finished 6th. The 1973 Rookie of the Year, Lennie Pond ran his first Cup race at NWS. Another new face to NWS wasn’t know for his auto racing abilities. His name was Yvon DuHamel, a French-Canadian from Quebec. DuHamel was a top AMA road racer during the 1960s and '70s. He raced in the Daytona 200 motorcycle road race and at the time was the back to back winner of the Talladega 200 race while driving for the Kawasaki factory team. It was his only career Winston Cup race. He drove a Mercury prepared by master mechanic Junie Donlavey and finished in 10th place.

Some pics from the race.......

Opening pace lap of the 1973 Gwyn Staley 400

Racing “down” the frontstretch.......literally

Petty wins by over 4 laps!

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