David Pearson’s Ford Torino Driven by Richard Petty!
If you have ever been to the Bristol Speedway you know it is a very special place. I have been fortunate enough to have been there for several races both in the daytime and the evening. I have also been able to drive our own Talladega at speed on the track and that is one of my all time top thrills! In 1969 it must have been a very hot and muggy day in Bristol. I can only imagine how hot it must have gotten in the race cars in those days.
The article below may give you a bit of an idea of what it was like and also give you a new appreciation of the hard work it was to drive those cars in 1969. Beyond that is the story of how two fierce competitors who highly respected each other also came together to win a race. Can you imagine the driver in second place in NASCAR Championship points helping the driver in first place win a race today? It shows you the respect David Pearson had for Richard Petty to even ask him to relieve him in his car. A lesser driver could have gotten into David’s Ford and drove it into the wall to ensure they stayed close in points but no, Richard went out and put David’s Ford in first place.
Read the article below and get a much better idea of what NASCAR was like in 1969.
Competition Press & Autoweek August 8, 1969
Big Pay Day!
Take a close look at the competitors’ winnings for Bristol in 1969. David won $5,525 for the race but it put him over $100,000 for the year and he was the Championship leader at that point. That is a ridiculously low amount compared to today. However, the average wage in 1969 was $5,894! You might say that is a years pay for the average Joe and you would be right. However, in today’s dollars (as calculated by the Bureau of Statistics) that is equal to $39,911 in 2017! What was the purse for the 2015 (no information could be found for 2016) August Bristol Race for the winner? $217,961 to win out of a total purse of $5,775,910. When the drivers we admire from the Aero War days say they didn’t get paid very will compared to today’s drivers they are correct! Jeff Gordon won over $150,000,000 dollars in his career.