1981 CART PPG Indy Car World Series
The 1981 CART PPG Indy Car World Series season, the third in the CART era of U.S. open-wheel racing, consisted of 11 races, beginning in Avondale, Arizona on March 22 and concluding at the same location on October 31. The PPG Indy Car World Series Drivers' Champion was Rick Mears despite missing Round 2 at Milwaukee due to injuries sustained in the Indianapolis 500. Rookie of the Year was Bob Lazier. After the disagreement with the USAC during the previous season, the 65th Indianapolis 500 was not part of the Series, however no competing race was scheduled and most CART teams and drivers did take part.
|1981 CART season|
|PPG Indy Car World Series|
|Start date||March 22|
|End date||October 31|
|Drivers' champion||Rick Mears|
|Nations' Cup||United States|
|Rookie of the Year||Bob Lazier|
Drivers and constructorsEdit
Notable team and driver changesEdit
- Tom Sneva leaves Jerry O'Connell Racing for new team Bignotti-Cotter Racing. The team scales back to part-time for 1981.
- Team Penske expands to a three-car operation, with Bill Alsup joining. His owner-driver team Alsup Racing only runs part-time in 1981.
- After racing limited schedule beforehand, Tony Bettenhausen Jr. runs his first full-time season with new owner-driver team Bettenhausen Racing.
- Dick Simon replaces Sheldon Kinser at Leader Card Racing, leaving Kinser without a ride. Simon's old team, Vollstedt Enterprises, does not compete.
- Mario Andretti returns to running the majority of the races after a stint in Formula One, driving for Patrick Racing. He replaces Tom Bagley, who is left without a ride.
- Rookie driver Scott Brayton runs a full schedule with family owned team Brayton Racing.
- After running part-time in 1980, Machinists Union Racing runs a full schedule with driver Larry Dickson.
- Spike Gehlhausen is replaced at Bob Fletcher Racing by rookie driver Bob Lazier.
- Josele Garza runs his first season with family-owned team Garza Racing.
- Steve Chassey runs his first full-time season for the Jet Engineering team.
- AMI Racing only runs two races in 1981 after running full-time in 1980. Gary Bettenhausen is left without a full-time ride.
- Interscope Racing also stops running full-time, along with driver Danny Ongais.
- At Cannon Racing, Larry Cannon only runs the first few races, with most of the rest driven by Dick Ferguson.
- This is Bobby Unser's final season of IndyCar racing. See the 1981 Indianapolis 500 for more information.
Notable Equipment ChangesEdit
|1||March 22||Kraco Car Stereo 150||Phoenix International Raceway||Avondale, Arizona|
|NC||May 24||Indianapolis 500||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||Indianapolis, Indiana|
|2||June 8||Gould Rex Mays Classic||Milwaukee Mile||West Allis, Wisconsin|
|3||June 21||Kraco Twin 125||Atlanta Motor Speedway||Hampton, Georgia|
|5||July 25||Norton Michigan 500||Michigan International Speedway||Brooklyn, Michigan|
|6||August 30||Los Angeles Times 500||Riverside International Raceway||Riverside, California|
|7||September 5||Tony Bettenhausen 200||Milwaukee Mile||West Allis, Wisconsin|
|8||September 20||Detroit News Grand Prix||Michigan International Speedway||Brooklyn, Michigan|
|9||October 4||Watkins Glen 200||Watkins Glen International||Watkins Glen, New York|
|10||October 18||I Copa México 150||Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez||Mexico City, Mexico|
|11||November 8||Miller High Life 150||Phoenix International Raceway||Avondale, Arizona|
- The Detroit News Grand Prix was supposed to run for 150 miles, but was shortened due to a scoring error.
|Rd||Race||Pole Position||Winning driver||Winning team||Race time|
|1||Kraco Car Stereo 200||Bobby Unser||Johnny Rutherford||Chaparral||1:17:08|
|NC||Indianapolis 500-Mile Race||Bobby Unser||Bobby Unser||Team Penske||3:35:42|
|2||Gould-Rex Mays 150||Gordon Johncock||Mike Mosley||All American Racers||1:19:03|
|3||Kraco Twin 125||Johnny Rutherford||Rick Mears||Team Penske||0:51:29|
|4||Rick Mears||Rick Mears||Team Penske||0:45:20|
|5||Norton Michigan 500||Tom Sneva||Pancho Carter||Alex Foods||3:45:45|
|6||Los Angeles Times 500||Geoff Brabham||Rick Mears||Team Penske||2:43:40|
|7||Tony Bettenhausen 200||Johnny Rutherford||Tom Sneva||Bignotti-Cotter||1:41:41|
|8||Detroit News Grand Prix||Rick Mears||Rick Mears||Team Penske||1:10:30|
|9||Watkins Glen 150||Mario Andretti||Rick Mears||Team Penske||1:52:17|
|10||II Copa Mexico 150||Bobby Unser||Rick Mears||Team Penske||1:24:48|
|11||Miller High Life 150||Bobby Unser||Tom Sneva||Bignotti-Cotter||1:20:10|
Note, the total time of the Nortan Michigan 500 does not include red flag stoppage time as the race was stopped for nearly 1 hour due to a bad pit lane fire
Final driver standingsEdit