The SONY Walkman hit the shelves at an astounding cost of $200. "Saturday Night Fever" by the Bee Gees was the album of the year. ESPN became the first all-sports television network. McDonald's introduced the Happy Meal. Richard Petty won the Daytona 500 in front of an estimated 16 million viewers watching NASCAR's first ever flag-to-flag televised race.
STP and Richard Petty Motorsports with driver Aric Almirola are honoring The King's 1979 NASCAR season, the season that many claim catapulted NASCAR into a household sport, at the Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on Sunday, September 4 with the throwback paint scheme mirroring Petty's 1979 Dodge Oldsmobile Cutlass.
"We started the season really good because we won Daytona to kick off the year," said Petty. "In 1978, we didn't win any races, and then we won at Daytona to start the year. That was one of our better years, and we ended up winning the Championship that year, too. That was our last Championship, so it was a breakthrough year of sorts after not winning the year before. Having the car throwback to that year is special because it was a good year for us."
"I'm excited to run the 1979 STP paint scheme this year at Darlington," said Almirola. 'We had a lot of fun with the throwback theme last year, and it should be fun to throwback again this year. It makes the race so special. There are so many great STP paint schemes over the years, which makes it special for our team to run throwbacks. 1979 was definitely a breakout season when it comes to catapulting the sport into the mainstream, so it's cool to recognize that this year with our throwback scheme."
The aforementioned televised Daytona 500 is often viewed as the turning point in NASCAR's modern era as the broadcast had 16 million viewers and brought national attention to the sport. Although ½ lap down at the white flag, a now-famous accident between the leaders saw Petty take the lead down the backstretch and go on to win his sixth of seven Daytona 500 races and break a 45-race winless streak.
Petty went on to win four more events that season at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, Dover (Del.) International Speedway and North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, N.C. Petty took the point lead for the first time that season with just two races to go. He fell to second going into the season finale, but finished fifth in the season finale at Ontario (Calif.) Motor Speedway to win his seventh - and final - NASCAR Cup championship by 11 points over Darrell Waltrip. Rising star Dale Earnhardt was named the Rookie of the Year.
"STP, along with Richard Petty, has been the longest running team sponsorship in NASCAR history. Some things just get better with age and this is no exception. STP has been a proud partner of Richard Petty for nearly 45 years, and we are delighted to celebrate another monumental year in the sport with this paint scheme from 1979," said Jamie Kistner, Vice President of Marketing for STP. "Race fans and STP consumers alike are, without a doubt, our greatest asset, so we hope this brings back some great memories. The second-annual throwback event at Darlington Raceway is just around the corner and we can't wait for the fans to see the 43 STP car on the track."
The throwback paint scheme will feature one significant difference from the original in 1979. A dollar amount signifying the amount of money raised by STP customers for Victory Junction will be featured on the rear quarter panel of the No. 43 STP Ford. STP launched the "Giving Kids an Ultra Summer" program on June 1 and will donate $.43 for every bottle of STP Ultra 5-in-1 Fuel System Cleaner sold through August 31. STP has been a longtime partner Victory Junction which was built to honor Richard Petty's late grandson Adam Petty. Prior to the launch of this year's "Giving Kids an Ultra Summer" program, STP has donated more than sixty-five thousand dollars to the camp that provides life-changing camp experiences for children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses. STP honored its first season with Petty by running a 1972 throwback paint scheme in the inaugural throwback Bojangles' Southern 500 in 2015. Almirola started and finished 11th in the 500-mile race.
The 2016 Bojangles' Southern 500 will be broadcast live on NBC on Sunday, September 4 at 6 p.m., ET.