Sometimes, especially in NASCAR, a race is remembered not for what happened during it, but rather for what occurred afterward. That was truly the case in the 1993 Hooters 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the subject of this week's throwback photo.
The 1993 fall race at Atlanta Motor Speedway was the end point for a season-long fight for the Cup title between Rusty Wallace and Dale Earnhardt Sr. Earnhardt was crowned champion that day, celebrating his sixth title with Wallace passing Darrell Waltrip late to take the win.
Sure, Earnhardt's championship and Wallace victory were quite memorable. But what happened following the race remains to be one of the most vivid post-race tributes in NASCAR history. In fact, a painting hangs on the AMS corporate offices commemorating the post-race tribute by two of NASCAR's champions to two former rivals and competitors.
The year of 1993 proved to be a tough year for NASCAR to endure. Its reigning champion, Alan Kulwicki, died in an April plane crash. The following July, Davey Allison, one of the sport's biggest stars, died as a result of injuries sustained in a helicopter crash.
Flash-forward to the 1993 finale, at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Wallace started 20th, but that didn't stop him from dominating, first leading on the race's 81st lap, the first of 189 laps led, the most among all drivers. In fact, other than Harry Gant, no driver paced the field for more than 18 laps. That driver turned out to be Darrell Waltrip, whose late-race fuel mileage gamble allowed him to lead the race for 13 laps until running out of fuel with only a few laps to go, opening the door for Wallace to win his 10th race of the season. Despite it being Wallace's best career season in terms of race victories, it wasn't enough to win top Earnhardt in the standings, as The Intimidator celebrated his sixth title that day.
But what happened after the race turned out to be one of the most memorable moments in NASCAR. Following the race, Earnhardt and Wallace paraded around the track on a backwards victory lap made famous by Kulwicki, also known as the "Polish Victory Lap." With Earnhardt carrying a flag with Kulwicki's No. 7 on it and Wallace displaying a No. 28 flag in honor of Allison, both received cheers from thousands of fans in attendance and also from millions of fans watching on television at home.
Ask any fan that was at AMS that day, and they'll likely tell you that the events following the race was something that they will always remember.
Night Racing will return to Atlanta Motor Speedway on Labor Day weekend, giving fans moments they will always remember!