1983 Warner W. Hodgdon Carolina 500

The 1983 Warner W. Hodgdon Carolina 500 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing event that was scheduled to be held on Sunday, March 6, 1983, at North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham, North Carolina. The race started on its scheduled date but the overcast skies opened up with steady rain soon after 100 laps were completed, forcing the race to be stopped for the day. The race concluded one week later on March 13, a pleasant sunny day with no clouds in sight.

1983 Warner W. Hodgdon Carolina 500
Race details[1]
Race 3 of 30 in the 1983 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Layout of Rockingham Speedway
Layout of Rockingham Speedway
Date March 13, 1983 (1983-March-13)
Official name Carolina 500
Location North Carolina Motor Speedway, Rockingham, North Carolina
Course Permanent racing facility
1.017 mi (1.636 km)
Distance 492 laps, 500 mi (804 km)
Weather Mild with temperatures of 70 °F (21 °C); wind speeds of 11.8 miles per hour (19.0 km/h)
Average speed 113.055 miles per hour (181.944 km/h)
Attendance 37,000[2]
Pole position
Driver Richard Childress Racing
Most laps led
Driver Cale Yarborough Ranier-Lundy Racing
Laps 161
No. 43 Richard Petty Petty Enterprises
Television in the United States
Network ESPN
Announcers Bob Jenkins
Larry Nuber

Several hard crashes during the race sidelined drivers; Joe Ruttman crashed his #98 Buick going into turn three, sending the windshield flying out of his car and over the outer wall. Geoff Bodine in Pontiac #50 had a fast car and led many laps, but crashed out while attempting to lap Cale Yarborough's #28 Chevy. With 42 laps to go Yarborough and Neil Bonnett in the #75 Chevy, who had been swapping the lead between them, tangled and crashed entering turn one when Bonnett ducked below Yarborough. Both cars spun and Yarborough slid back into the outside wall. The 28 car was heavily damaged in the rear and shortened by nearly five feet but limped home for a 9th-place finish, 6 laps down. Bonnett dropped out with damage from the wreck with 9 laps to go and finished 12th. Richard Petty barely held off a hard-charging Bill Elliott in a close side by side fight to the checkered flag.

Race reportEdit

This 492-lap event lasted for four hours and twenty-five minutes; drivers at this event managed to average speeds up to 113.055 miles per hour (181.944 km/h).[2] Only manual transmission vehicles were allowed to participate in this race; a policy that NASCAR has retained to the present day. At the start of the race were 35 American-born drivers; Ernie Cline was the last-place finisher due to a crash on lap 2. Crashes and engine problems would take out more than a dozen drivers; with Neil Bonnett being the highest-finishing driver not to complete the race. Ruttman slammed the outside wall after spinning in oil. He spun backward and his left rear slammed the wall and Ruttman bounced off nearly getting airborne, almost flipping. His day would ultimately end on lap 176.[2]

Richard Petty would end up beating Bill Elliott by half a car length in one of the closest finishes at the speedway. Petty would acquire his only win in a race televised by ESPN.[2] Had the race been scheduled for 493 laps or more, Bill Elliott could have easily extended Richard Petty's winless streak (which had already reached 43 races by this event). This event resulted in Richard Petty's 196th win in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series instead in addition to his 900th Winston Cup Series start. The event was marred by 1.1 inches (28 mm) of rainfall forcing the race to be postponed for a week.[3][4]

The leaders for the first 100 laps of the race would be Ricky Rudd, Dale Earnhardt, Cale Yarborough, Neil Bonnett, and Dick Brooks while the leaders during the last 100 laps would be Neil Bonnett, Darrell Waltrip, Richard Petty, and Bill Elliott. With about 10 or 15 laps to go, Neil Bonnett and Cale Yarborough crashed in Turn 1 while racing for the lead.[2]

Ricky Rudd won the pole position by qualifying with a top speed of 143.413 miles per hour or 230.801 kilometres per hour.[2] Out of Ricky Rudd's three poles to start 1983 this was the only one that netted him a good finish, he did not finish at Daytona or Richmond but brought the #3 Chevrolet home with a top-10 finish here.[2] A crowd of 37,000 die-hard NASCAR fans would show up to cheer on their favorite drivers even though 94 of 492 laps were run under caution.[2]

Joe Ruttman would lose his championship lead to Bill Elliott after this event was over.[5] Two years later, Elliott would become the top winner in NASCAR.

Individual winnings for this event ranged from the winner's cut of $24,150 ($61,993 when adjusted for inflation) to the last-place finisher's purse of $910 ($2,336 when adjusted for inflation). The total prize purse offered at this event was $199,065 ($510,998 when adjusted for inflation).[6]


Section reference: [2]

  • Start: The race started with a green/yellow flag and Ricky Rudd having the pole position
  • Lap 39: First caution due to Dave Marcis' engine failure; ended on lap 48
  • Lap 73: Second caution due to Dale Earnhardt's accident; ended on lap 77
  • Lap 111: Third caution due to Buddy Baker spinning his tires; ended on lap 118
  • Lap 139: Fourth caution due to rain; ended on lap 149
  • Lap 179: Fifth caution due to a 3-car accident; ended on lap 190
  • Lap 271: Sixth caution due to debris; caution ended on lap 274
  • Lap 403: Seventh caution due to Geoffrey Bodine's accident; ended on lap 413
  • Lap 452: Eighth caution due to a 2-car accident; ended on lap 459
  • Lap 477: Ninth caution due to Tommy Gale's accident; ended on lap 479
  • Finish: Richard Petty was officially declared the winner of the race

Top ten finishersEdit

Pos[2] Grid No. Driver Manufacturer Laps Laps led Points Time/Status
1 12 43 Richard Petty Pontiac 492 48 180 4:25:30
2 6 9 Bill Elliott Ford 492 10 175 +0.5 car lengths
3 11 11 Darrell Waltrip Chevrolet 492 3 170 Lead lap under green flag
4 17 1 Lake Speed Chevrolet 489 0 160 +3 laps
5 7 33 Harry Gant Buick 489 0 155 +3 laps
6 1 3 Ricky Rudd Chevrolet 489 30 155 +3 laps
7 13 27 Tim Richmond Pontiac 488 2 151 +4 laps
8 19 60 Dick Brooks Ford 486 1 147 +6 laps
9 5 28 Cale Yarborough Chevrolet 486 161 148 +6 laps
10 3 22 Bobby Allison Chevrolet 484 21 139 +8 laps

Standings after the raceEdit

Pos Driver Points[2] Differential
1   Bill Elliott 500 0
2   Bobby Allison 457 -43
3   Dick Brooks 431 -69
4   Neil Bonnett 404 -96
5   Joe Ruttman 402 -98
6   Richard Petty 376 -124
7   Buddy Baker 371 -129
8   Harry Gant 367 -133
9   Lake Speed 366 -134
10   Jimmy Means 357 -143


Preceded by
1983 Richmond 400
NASCAR Winston Cup Season
Succeeded by
1983 Coca-Cola 500
Preceded by
1981 Champion Spark Plug 400
Richard Petty's Career Wins
Succeeded by
1983 Winston 500