'Twas the fifth day of May, 1985 at the Winston 500. Me and my dad got to a hotel room in Anniston, AL, on Saturday and drove to the track on Sunday morning. We found our seats and then walked over to the track museum.
One of Cale Yarborough's cars (below) was on display outside not far away from the museum building.
Below are some of the cars that were inside the museum at the time.
Bobby Allison's Matador (below). The guy in the straw hat is my dad.
It was a perfect day for a race. Bill Elliott had qualified for the pole with top speed of 209.398 MPH.
The late, great Neil Bonnett driving Junior Johnson's #12 Budweiser Chevy (below).
Elliott's car started smoking badly all of a sudden about a quarter way into the race and everyone in the stands thought he was done for the day. You could feel the disappointment all around because many had come to see him race. However, to everyone's surprise he pitted and went back out after going more than a lap down. I remember the folks around us who had radios saying it was a loose oil line instead of a blown engine.
The freight train was less than 10 car lengths behind him when he finally got back up to speed. Technically he only went one lap down, but everyone who saw the race knew it would been two in another lap or less.
Instead of quickly being overtaken by the pack, he increased the interval between himself and the leaders close to a second per lap. I know this because I timed the interval for almost every lap with my digital watch. The gap decreased only after a round of green flag pit stops, then grew again after a few laps. I seem to recall a caution flag only after he had made it up to the middle of the pack.
Everyone in the stands watched something TV could never do justice to. When Bill finally slingshot his car down the backstretch and into lead in Turn 3, the whole crowd went nuts.
The Awesome One (below) goes onto pit road on his way to Victory Lane after the race ended.
The scoreboard (below) after the race tells the story.
1. Bill Elliott #9
2. Kyle Petty #7
3. Cale Yarborough #28
4. Bobby Allison #22
5. Ricky Rudd #15
Today I can't remember who won last week's NASCAR race, but I will always remember this day for the rest of my life.