One Hot Night: May 16, 1992By
The 1992 NASCAR Winston Cup season was probably my favorite, and one of the big highlights of that season was "The Winston" at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was only the eighth running of the non-points, invitational-only event for the previous and current years' race winners, but there was a lot of hype this particular year.
Charlotte had just installed a state-of-the-art lighting system from Musco and The Winston would be the first superspeedway night race. Of course night races at superspeedways are nothing extraordinary these days, but I remember in the week leading up to the race in 1992 there was a lot of excitement. The cars' paint schemes lit up awesome in the night time and at a place like Charlotte everyone was anticipating something special.
R.J. Reynolds posted a $300,000 award for the winner of the final 10-lap segment and with a full moon expected that night, the speedway teamed with television broadcaster TNN to promote the event as "One Hot Night".
The race track was packed with screaming fans as Dale Earnhardt led Kyle Petty and Davey Allison to the white flag to start the final lap. Down the backstretch, Petty attempted a pass on Earnhardt and Earnhardt took Petty all the way down to the flat. The two cars got to turn three with a severely poor entrance angle and Earnhardt couldn't hold the car and spun out. Petty lifted out of the gas a bit to avoid being collected, and off of turn four Allison was right there and slipped to his inside.
Mike Joy, Buddy Baker, and Neil Bonnett called the finish that night:
Allison ended up in the hospital after the crash with a concussion and a bruised lung, and the team's best car was wrecked -- but he still won. They had intended to run the car the following week in the Coca-Cola 600 in an attempt to win the Winston Million bonus. Their backup car was a little off and he finished 4th in that race.
The 1992 Winston was definitely a feather in NASCAR's cap, and a race people were talking about for weeks after, and one that we're still quick to recall so many years later.