Footage From First Cup Points Race Televised Start-To-Finish Is Found
By Rick Houston
It’s amazing what can happen when a few racing enthusiasts put their heads together to figure out a problem.
The 1971 Greenville 200 at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina was the first points race in what is now the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series ever shown live on television from start to finish. That trumps the 1979 Daytona 500, the first 500-miler ever broadcast live in its entirety, by nearly eight years. And if the Greenville-Pickens race was shown by ABC Sports, surely the footage is still around, somewhere. Right?
Wrong. Or that’s what everybody seemed to think.
NASCAR Media Group didn’t think it existed. Strike one. A call to the race track itself turned up … well … nothing. Strike two. Still, that nagging feeling lingered. I knew I’d seen at least a clip or two in a documentary at some point in time, but which one? I checked out ESPN’s Ultimate NASCAR four-volume series. Nope, not there. I remembered American Stock: The Golden Era of NASCAR, a four-disc documentary produced by John W. Warner IV, the son of the longtime Virginia senator, and released in 2005.
On fast forward, the footage wasn’t there, either. I turned to Jay Coker, a longtime collector. He said he would pass word around and see if he could come up with anything. In less than 24 hours, Kevin Simmons had responded, saying that clips were, in fact, included on the third disc of American Stock: The Golden Era of NASCAR.
I tried again, this time in real time, and still missed it. One more chance, and, bingo, there it was in glorious full-color video. The field takes the green flag, David Pearson and Bobby Isaac leading the way. Don’t blink, because the entire segment lasts less than a minute and a half, but it’s there, all right, footage from this incredibly important historical event.
Calls to the number listed on the documentaries Web site, http://www.americanstock.us/index.cfm, turned up a number that had been either changed or disconnected. The set is no longer available on Amazon.com and none were to be found on eBay.
So the question remains. The briefest of clips are out there. Could the full race, which was, by most accounts, rather dull, still exist on tape? If so, we want to know about it here at Stock Car History Online. Anyone who can provide a full-length, quality copy of the event will receive in return each of the TeamMarketing Sports DVD’s NASCAR-related releases listed on our classic races page.
So dust off those race tapes you’ve been saving, and see what you’ve got. In the meantime, enjoy the following screen captures of the 1971 Greenville 200 footage contained in American Stock: The Golden Era of NASCAR.