1981 IndyCar season

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1981 IndyCar season
PPG Indy Car World Series
Season
Races 11
Start date March 22
End date October 31
Awards
Drivers' champion United States Rick Mears
Constructors' Cup United States Penske
Manufacturers' Cup United Kingdom Cosworth
Nations' Cup United States United States
Rookie of the Year United States Bob Lazier
Chronology
Previous season Next season
1980 1982

The 1981 IndyCar 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. 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.

Drivers and constructors[edit]

The following teams and drivers competed for the 1981 CART World Series.

Team/Car Owner Chassis Engine Tires # Drivers Notes
United States Chaparral Cars Chaparral Cosworth G 1 United States Johnny Rutherford
United States Jerry O´Connell Racing Phoenix Cosworth G 2 United States Tom Sneva Phoenix (1) only.
32 United States Kevin Cogan Milwaukee (both), Atlanta (1), Michigan (1) and Riverside only.
United States Bignotti-Cotter Racing March

Phoenix

Cosworth G 2 United States Tom Sneva All races except Phoenix (1) and Atlanta (both). Used the Phoenix chassis at Milwaukee (1) only.
21 United States Salt Walther Michigan (1) only. Used the Phoenix chassis.
United States Team Penske Penske Cosworth G 3 United States Bobby Unser
6 United States Rick Mears Injured while competing at Indianapolis (not counted towards the championship), missed Milwaukee (1) only.
7 United States Bill Alsup All races except Phoenix (1), Michigan (2) and Watkins Glen only.
United States Morales Motorsports Penske
Lightning
Cosworth G 5 United States Pancho Carter Used the Lightning chassis at Milwaukee (1) and Watkins Glen only.
75 United States Steve Chassey Atlanta (2) only. Used the Lightning chassis.
United States Longhorn Racing Longhorn

Eagle

Cosworth G 8 United States Al Unser Used the Eagle chassis at Michigan (2) only.
United States Rhoades Competition Wildcat Cosworth G 12 Australia Dennis Firestone

United States Gary Bettenhausen

United States Gordon Smiley

Firestone drove the car at Atlanta (1) only. Bettenhausen drove the car at Michigan (1) and Milwaukee (2) only. Smiley drove the car at Riverside, Mexico City and Phoenix (2).
United States Gilmore Racing Coyote Cosworth G 14 United States A.J. Foyt Michigan (1) only.
United States Tempero Racing McLaren Chevrolet G 15 United States Bill Tempero All races except Milwaukee (1) only.
United States Bettenhausen Racing McLaren

Longhorn

Phoenix

Cosworth G 16 United States Tony Bettenhausen, Jr. All races except Phoenix (1) only. Used the Longhorn chassis at Milwaukee (2) only and the Phoenixx chassis at Michigan (2), Watkins Glen and Mexico City only.
United States Leader Card Racing Watson Cosworth

Offenhauser

G 22 United States Dick Simon

United States Spike Gehlhausen

Simon drove the car at all races except Atlanta (both). Gehlhausen drove the car at Atlanta (both) only. Used the Offenhauser engine at Milwaukee (2) and Michigan (2) only.
United States Patrick Racing Wildcat Cosworth G 20 United States Gordon Johncock
40 United States Mario Andretti

United States Steve Krisiloff

Andretti drove the car at all races except Michigan (1), Milwaukee (2), Riverside and Mexico City only. Krisiloff drove the car at Michigan (1) and Milwaukee (2) only.
United States Brayton Racing Penske Cosworth G 21 United States Mike Mosley

United States Chip Ganassi

Mosely drove the car at Mexico City only. Ganassi drove the car at Phoenix (2) only.
37 United States Scott Brayton
United States McElreath Racing Eagle Offenhauser

Chevrolet

G 23 United States Jim McElreath Phoenix (both), Michigan (2), Watkins Glen and Mexico City only. Used the Chevrolet engine at Michigan (2) only.
United States Luxury Racers Kingfish Chevrolet G 24 United States Wally Pankratz Riverside only.
65 United States Wally Pankratz Phoenix (2) only.
United States Buick Racing Eagle Chevrolet G 26 United States Jim Buick Phoenix (1) only.
86 United States Jim Buick Milwaukee (1), Atlanta (both) and Michigan (1) only.
United States Menard Racing Lightning

Eagle

Chevrolet G 28 United States Herm Johnson All races except Phoenix (1), Milwaukee (1), Atlanta (2) and Michigan (2) only. Used the Eagle chassis at Watkins Glen, Mexico City and Phoenix (2) only.
United States Beaudoin Racing McLaren Cosworth G 29 United States Billy Engelhart Milwaukee (both) and Michigan (1) only.
United States Machinists Union Racing Penske Cosworth G 31 United States Larry Dickson All races except Phoenix (1) only.
United States Theodore Racing McLaren

March

Cosworth G 33 Australia Vern Schuppan Michigan (1), Riverside, Mexico City and Phoenix (2) only. Used the March chassis at Riverside only (the McLaren chassis was also entered).
United States Wysard Racing Eagle Cosworth G 34 United States Hurley Haywood

United States Johnny Parsons

Haywood drove the car at Riverside, Watkins Glen and Mexico City only. Parsons drove the car at Phoenix (2) only.
United States Bob Fletcher Racing Penske

March

Cosworth G 35 United States Bob Lazier Used the March chassis at Milwaukee (2), Michigan (2), Mexico City and Phoenix (2) only.
United States Karl Racing McLaren

Karl

Chevrolet G 38 United States Jerry Karl All races except Michigan (2) and Phoenix (2) only. Used the McLaren chassis at Phoenix (1) only.
United States Alsup Racing Penske

McLaren

Cosworth

Chevrolet

G 41 United States Bill Alsup Phoenix (1), Michigan (2) and Watkins Glen only. Used the Penske chassis and the Cosworth engine.
47 Italy Phil Caliva Atlanta (both), Michigan (1), Riverside, Milwaukee (2) and Phoenix (2) only.
United States Frey Racing Eagle Offenhauser G 42 United States Bob Frey Phoenix (1) only.
71 United States Bob Frey Milwaukee (1) and Michigan (1) only.
United States Rattlesnake Racing Watson Offenhauser G 42 United States Billy Vukovich II Michigan (both), Riverside and Mexico City only.
United States AMI Racing Lola

Armstrong

Cosworth G 43 United States Greg Leffler Phoenix (2) only. Used the Armstrong chassis.
45 United States Harry MacDonald Michigan (1) only.
United States Rager Racing Wildcat Chevrolet G 44 United States Roger Rager Phoenix (2) only.
66 United States Roger Rager

Mexico Orio Trice

Rager drove the car at Michigan (both), Riverside, Milwaukee (2) and Watkins Glen only. Trice drove the car at Mexico City only.
United States All American Racers Eagle Chevrolet G 48 United States Mike Mosley

Australia Geoff Brabham

United States Rocky Moran

Mosley drove the car at Milwaukee (both), Atlanta (1), Michigan (both) and Phoenix (2) only. Brabham drove the car at Riverside and Mexico City only. Moran drove the car at Watkins Glen only.
United States Space Racing Eagle Cosworth G 49 United States Chip Mead Michigan (1) and Phoenix (2) only.
Mexico Garza Racing Penske Cosworth G 54 Australia Geoff Brabham

Mexico Josele Garza

Brabham drove the car at Phoenix (1) only. Garza drove the car at Milwaukee (1) only.
55 Mexico Josele Garza All races except Milwaukee (1) only.
United States Gohr Racing Penske Chevrolet G 56 United States Tom Bigelow Milwaukee (both), Michigan (both) and Phoenix (2) only.
United States Metro Racing McLaren Offenhauser G 57 Canada Cliff Hucul Milwaukee (1) and Michigan (both) only.
United States Hamilton Racing Riley Chevrolet G 63 United States Ken Hamilton Riverside and Phoenix (2) only.
United States Jet Engineering Eagle| Chevrolet| G 64 United States Steve Chassey All races except Atlanta (2) and Mexico City only.
United States Mergard Racing McLaren

IAM

Chevrolet

Donovan

G 67 United States Phil Threshie

Belgium Teddy Pilette

Threshie drove the car at Milwaukee (1) only. Pilette drove the car at Watkins Glen and Mexico City only. Team ran in conjunction with Mchinists Union Racing at Mexico City only. Used the IAM chassis and the Donovan engine at Mexico City only.
United States Hodgdon Racing Penske Cosworth G 72 United States Michael Chandler Michigan (1) only.
74 United States Michael Chandler Riverside, Mexico City and Phoenix (2) only.
United States Davis Racing Wildcat Offenhauser

Chevrolet

G 77 United States Ross Davis Atlanta (both), Riverside, Milwaukee (2), Michigan (2), Watkins Glen and Phoenix (2) only. Used the Chevrolet engine at Riverside only.
United States Joe Hunt Magneto Eagle Chevrolet

Offenhauser

G 89 United States Phil Krueger Phoenix (both), Riverside and Mexico City only. Used the Offenhauser engine at Phoenix (2) only.
United States Intercomp Penske Offenhauser

Chevrolet

G 92 United States John Mahler Milwaukee (both), Riverside and Phoenix (2) only. Used the Chevrolet engine at Phoenix (2) only.
Mexico Grupo-Acypsa Penske Offenhauser G 93 Mexico Michel Jourdain Mexico City only.
United States Whittington Bros. Racing March Cosworth G 94 United States Bill Whittington Michigan (1) only.
United States Cannon Racing Wildcat Offenhauser G 95 United States Larry Cannon

United States Herm Johnson

Cannon drove the car at Phoenix (1) only. Johnson drove the car at Atlanta (2) only.
96 United States Tom Frantz

United States Dick Ferguson

Frantz drove the car at Phoenix (1) only. Ferguson drove the car at Michigan (1) only.
99 United States Larry Cannon

United States Dick Ferguson

Cannon drove the car at Milwaukee (1), Atlanta (both) and Michigan (1) only. Ferguson drove the car at Riverside, Michigan (2), Mexico City and Phoenix (2) only.
United States Vetrock Racing Eagle Chevrolet G X United States Dean Vetrock Milwaukee (1) only. Number was unknown.
United States Ohio Racing Associates Longhorn Cosworth G X United States Steve Krisiloff Michigan (2) only. Number was unknown.

Full Series Results[edit]

Grands Prix[edit]

Rd Date Race Name Circuit City/Location Pole Position Winning driver Winning team
1 March 22 United States Kraco Car Stereo 200 Phoenix International Raceway Phoenix, Arizona United States Bobby Unser United States Johnny Rutherford Chaparral
2 June 7 United States Gould-Rex Mays 150 Milwaukee Mile West Allis, Wisconsin United States Gordon Johncock United States Mike Mosley All American Racers
3 June 21 United States Kraco Twin 125 Atlanta Motor Speedway Hampton, Georgia United States Johnny Rutherford United States Rick Mears Penske Racing
4 United States Rick Mears United States Rick Mears Penske Racing
5 July 25 United States Norton Michigan 500 Michigan International Speedway Brooklyn, Michigan United States Tom Sneva United States Pancho Carter Alex Foods
6 August 30 United States Los Angeles Times 500 Riverside International Raceway Riverside, California Australia Geoff Brabham United States Rick Mears Penske Racing
7 September 5 United States Tony Bettenhausen 200 Milwaukee Mile West Allis, Wisconsin United States Johnny Rutherford United States Tom Sneva Bignotti-Cotter
8 September 20 United States Detroit News Grand Prix Michigan International Speedway Brooklyn, Michigan United States Rick Mears United States Rick Mears Penske Racing
9 October 4 United States Watkins Glen 150 Watkins Glen International Watkins Glen, New York United States Mario Andretti United States Rick Mears Penske Racing
10 October 18 Mexico II Copa Mexico 150 Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez Mexico City, Mexico United States Bobby Unser United States Rick Mears Penske Racing
11 October 31 United States Miller High Life 150 Phoenix International Raceway Phoenix, Arizona United States Bobby Unser United States Tom Sneva Bignotti-Cotter
  Oval/Speedway
  Road Course/Street Circuit

Final driver standings[edit]

Pos Driver PHX1 United States MIL1 United States ATL1 United States ATL2 United States MIC1 United States RIR United States MIL2 United States MIC2 United States WTG United States MXC Mexico PHX2 United States Pts
1 United States Rick Mears 4 1 1* 3 1* 2 1 1 1 8 304
2 United States Bill Alsup 5 8 8 4 3 11 4 3 5 Ret 175
3 United States Pancho Carter 7 Ret 5 5 1* Ret 10 Ret 15 6 5 166
4 United States Gordon Johncock 6 16 4 4 Ret 2 6 5 10 3 3 142
5 United States Johnny Rutherford 1* 6 2* 3 Ret Ret 4 Ret 2 Ret Ret 120
6 United States Tony Bettenhausen Jr 12 7 11 2 DNS 14 10 8 11 Ret 107
7 United States Bobby Unser 2 Ret 13 6 Ret 9 3 7 Ret 15* 2 99
8 United States Tom Sneva 3 4 Ret Ret 1* Ret Ret Ret 1* 96
9 United States Bob Lazier 12 13 17 9 10 5 16 13 4 4 13 92
10 United States Al Unser Ret 5 6 7 11 Ret 5 3 14 2 Ret 90
11 United States Mario Andretti 11 3 3 2 2* Ret* 4 81
12 United States Tom Bigelow 9 5 Ret 9 11 60
13 United States Scott Brayton 15 11 9 10 7 8 Ret Ret Ret Ret DNQ 57
14 United States Larry Dickson 10 10 12 9 Ret 12 8 7 Ret DNQ 49
15 United States Gary Bettenhausen 6 Ret 42
16 United States Dick Simon 10 7 Ret 6 Ret Ret 11 Ret Ret 38
16 United States Herm Johnson Ret Ret 17 Ret 7 13 9 8 9 38
18 United States Mike Chandler Ret 4 16 DNQ 37
19 United States Mike Mosley 1* DNS Ret DNS Ret 7 Ret 32
20 United States Steve Chassey DNQ Ret Ret Ret Ret Ret 15 12 5 DNQ 31
21 Mexico Josele Garza Ret 14 12 Ret Ret Ret 8 Ret Ret 18 6 30
22 United States Phil Caliva Ret 15 8 DNS DNS DNQ 27
23 United States Kevin Cogan 2 16 Ret Ret Ret 23
24 United States Dick Ferguson Ret Ret 6 10 7 20
25 United States Steve Krisiloff Ret 7 17 18
26 United States Rocky Moran 6 16
27 Australia Geoff Brabham 9 Ret 9 14
28 United States Jerry Karl 8 Ret Ret Ret Ret Ret Ret Ret Ret 13
29 United States Billy Engelhart 8 Ret 9 11
30 United States Larry Cannon Ret 15 11 Ret 12 10
30 United States Roger Rager 13 Ret Ret Ret DNQ DNQ 10
32 United States Bill Tempero Ret 15 14 Ret Ret 17 15 Ret 12 DNQ 7
33 United States Phil Krueger 14 Ret 14 16 6
33 United States Bill Vukovich II Ret DNQ 14 Ret 6
35 United States Gordon Smiley Ret Ret 10 5
36 United States Jim McElreath Ret 11 DNQ 13 DNQ 4
36 United States Ross Davis DNQ Ret DNQ DNS 16 13 DNQ 4
36 Australia Vern Schuppan Ret Ret Ret 15 4
36 United States Jim Buick Ret 19 Ret 16 DNS 4
40 United States Hurley Haywood Ret 12 17 3
41 United States Bob Frey 13 17 DNQ 2
41 United States Spike Gehlhausen 14 13 2
41 United States John Mahler Ret Ret Ret DNQ 2
44 United States Jerry Sneva DNS 12 1
44 United States Chip Mead Ret 14 1
44 Australia Dennis Firestone Ret 1
44 United States Johnny Parsons Ret 1
44 United States Phil Threshie 18 1
Pos Driver PHX1 United States MIL1 United States ATL1 United States ATL2 United States MIC1 United States RIR United States MIL2 United States MIC2 United States WTG United States MXC Mexico PHX2 United States Pts
Color Result
Gold Winner
Silver 2nd place
Bronze 3rd place
Green 4th & 5th place
Light Blue 6th-10th place
Dark Blue Finished
(Outside Top 10)
Purple Did not finish
(Ret)
Red Did not qualify
(DNQ)
Brown Withdrawn
(Wth)
Black Disqualified
(DSQ)
White Did not start
(DNS)
Blank Did not
participate
(DNP)
Not competing
In-line notation
Bold Pole position
Italics Ran fastest race lap
* Led most race laps
DNS Any driver who qualifies
but does not start (DNS)
Rookie of the Year
Rookie

See also[edit]

References[edit]