1983 Daytona 500

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1983 Daytona 500
Race details
Race 1 of 30 in the 1983 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Track map of Daytona International Speedway showing mainly the speedway.
Track map of Daytona International Speedway showing mainly the speedway.
Date February 20, 1983 (1983-02-20)
Location Daytona International Speedway
Course Permanent racing facility
2.5 mi (4.02336 km)
Distance 200 laps, 500 mi (804.672 km)
Weather Temperatures reaching up to 70 °F (21 °C); wind speeds approaching 13 miles per hour (21 km/h)[1]
Average speed 155.979 miles per hour (251.024 km/h)
Pole position
Driver Richard Childress Racing
Qualifying race winners
Duel 1 Winner Dale Earnhardt Bud Moore Engineering
Duel 2 Winner Neil Bonnett RahMoc Enterprises
Most laps led
Driver Joe Ruttman Benfield Racing
Laps 57
No. 28 Cale Yarborough Ranier-Lundy
Television in the United States
Network CBS
Announcers Ken Squier and David Hobbs
Nielsen Ratings 8.7/26
(11 million viewers)

The 1983 Daytona 500, the 25th running of the event, was held February 20 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida as the first race of the 1983 NASCAR Winston Cup season. A crowd of 115,000 people watched the lead change 58 times among 11 drivers. A total of six cautions were handed out by NASCAR officials for a duration of 36 laps.


Cale Yarborough was the first driver to run a qualifying lap of more than 200 miles per hour (320 km/h) at the 1983 Daytona 500 in his #28 Hardee's Chevrolet Monte Carlo. However, on his second of two qualifying laps, Yarborough crashed and flipped his car in turn four. The car had to be withdrawn, and the lap did not count (unlike current rules). Despite the crash, Yarborough drove a back-up car (a Pontiac LeMans) in second-round qualifying and made the field.

Ricky Rudd wound up with the pole, driving Richard Childress' Chevrolet in what would become a breakthrough season for the longtime independent driver Childress. The early laps were a battle between Geoff Bodine, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Kyle Petty, and a resurgent Dick Brooks. Richard broke away from the field before his engine failed after 47 laps and the race became a showdown between Bodine, Yarborough, Joe Ruttman, Brooks, Neil Bonnett, Buddy Baker, and little-noticed Bill Elliott, while former Talladega 500 winner Ron Bouchard was also in contention.[2]

On Lap 63, the engine on the Bud Moore Engineering Ford driven by Earnhardt failed. As the race went on the lead bounced back and forth, and Bobby Allison, who'd lost a lap, crowded the leaders most of the day. Past halfway Kyle Petty blew his engine and a tire issue dropped Bonnett off the lead lap; when Mark Martin hit the wall Ruttman swerved to stop Bonnett from getting his lap back as they raced through a group of lapped cars. Bonnett got his lap back later but blew his engine in the final twenty laps while Brooks cut a tire and lost a lap.

On the final lap Baker led Yarborough, Ruttman, and Elliott. Cale stormed past Baker on the backstretch and Ruttman drafted into second; Baker dove under Ruttman and Elliott snookered them both on the highside in a three-abreast photo finish for second. The win was Cale's third in the 500 and was also the first time that an in-car camera of a car went into victory lane before a national CBS Sports audience (this tradition would eventually continue into the present day).

Waltrip-Brooks incident[edit]

With Brooks as the leader, the field slowed down coming back to the yellow. Two cars, though, tried to get their lap back (not permitted since 2003 after a near-miss at Loudon, resulting in the development of the current beneficiary rule) - Lake Speed passed Brooks in Turn Four and then chopped hard into his path; Brooks slammed his brakes and Darrell Waltrip spun to avoid hitting Brooks; Waltrip's Chevrolet hammered the inside guardrail and flew backwards back onto the racetrack, nearly collecting Yarborough, Bodine, and Ruttman.

Waltrip survived the wreck but suffered a concussion, resulting in an overnight hospitalisation, admitting in his biography that it was a life-changing crash, and under NASCAR's current rules, would have resulted in an automatic suspension of his licence for a concussion.

Did not qualify[edit]

Drivers who failed to qualify for this event include Blackie Wangerin, Joe Millikan, Connie Saylor, Morgan Shepherd, Rusty Wallace and David Simko.[2]


  1. ^ "Weather of the 1983 Daytona 500". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Archived from the original on 2013-07-02. Retrieved 2013-06-24. 
  2. ^ a b "1983 Daytona 500 racing information". Racing Reference. Archived from the original on 2013-07-02. Retrieved 2013-06-24. 
Preceded by
1982 Winston Western 500
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
Succeeded by
1983 Richmond 400