NASCAR racing entered a new era on Saturday night, May 16, 1992, when The Winston ran under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Heavily promoted as “One Hot Night,” the non-points special event was the first modern superspeedway race conducted at night and the finish definitely did not disappoint.
In his story for the May 20 issue of NSSN, veteran motorsports journalist Benny Phillips wrote: “They’ll remember and talk about the last lap for years to come. It was as wild and bizarre as any in the history of stock car racing.”
Davey Allison won the race by seven feet in a metal-crunching duel with Kyle Petty. But, in crossing the finish line, the cars came together a final time. Allison’s Ford slammed hard into the outside wall, driver’s side first. It finally came to rest on the inside of the track just beyond the exit to pit road.
Safety crewmen worked several minutes, using the Jaws of Life, to cut open the roof and remove Allison from the wreckage. The second-generation driver suffered a concussion, a bruised lung and bruised legs. He was airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte where he spent the night and was released the following day with clearance to race the next weekend.
On the last lap of the final 10-lap segment, Petty came off turn two and made his move. He came at leader Dale Earnhardt low, but Earnhardt drove down the track to block him. The two went all the way to grass along inside of the backstretch.
They came up the track going into turn three where Earnhardt’s Chevrolet broke loose and spun. Petty drove beneath Earnhardt and came off of turn four in front of Allison, but Allison took the low groove and pulled alongside him down the stretch. Petty tried to crowd Allison to the grass, but Allison held his line and the cars came together.
Allison earned $300,000 for the victory with Petty banking $130,000 for second. Ken Schrader, Ricky Rudd and Bill Elliott rounded out the top five in the 20-car field.
Editor Chris Economaki attended the milestone race and wrote: “The debut of racing under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway was, without question, a resounding success. The Musco Mirtran lighting system around the track included 1,200 fixtures, 56 poles and 1,700 mirrors. It delivered 186-million lumens of light, representing 1.2-billion candlepower! The full 1.5-mile track was as bright as day, and speeds appeared even faster than seen in sunlight.”