1983 Miller High Life 500

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1983 Miller High Life 500
Race details[1]
Race 27 of 30 in the 1983 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Layout of Charlotte Motor Speedway
Layout of Charlotte Motor Speedway
Date October 9, 1983 (1983-October-09)
Official name Miller High Life 500
Location Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, North Carolina
Course Permanent racing facility
1.500 mi (2.414 km)
Distance 400 laps, 600 mi (965 km)
Weather Mild with temperatures of 73 °F (23 °C); wind speeds of 10.1 miles per hour (16.3 km/h)
Average speed 139.998 miles per hour (225.305 km/h)
Attendance 118,000[2]
Pole position
Driver Blue Max Racing
Most laps led
Driver Tim Richmond Blue Max Racing
Laps 99
No. 43 Richard Petty Petty Enterprises
Television in the United States
Network Mizlou
Announcers Ken Squier
Donnie Allison

The 1983 Miller High Life 500 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing event that took place at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina on October 9, 1983.


The race was held in Concord, North Carolina at Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) quad-oval paved track. The race was the second to be held at the track during the 1983 Winston Cup Series, with the other being the 1983 World 600. Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner began building the track in 1959, and despite numerous delays, the track was finished in 1960 for the inaugural World 600.

Race report[edit]

There were 40 drivers on the grid; 39 of them were American while Trevor Boys was the only Canadian.[2] Sterling Marlin would rack up a last-place finish due to an engine failure on lap 53 out of the 334 being raced that day.[2] Richard Petty defeated Darrell Waltrip by 3.1 seconds in front of 118,000 spectators in a time of three hours and thirty-four minutes.[2] There were 30 different lead changes and eight caution periods for 35 laps.[2]

Tim Richmond acquired the pole position with a top speed of 163.073 miles per hour (262.441 km/h) in qualifying while the average race speed was 139.998 miles per hour (225.305 km/h).[2] Richmond led 99 laps in the race and finished in fifth-place.[2]

J.D. McDuffie would fail to qualify for this race along with Laurent Rioux (#38), Bosco Lowe, Randy Baker and Travis Tiller.[2]

On the day of the race, 0.11 inches of precipitation were recorded around the speedway.[3]

Following the last caution flag and pit stops of the race, Darrell Waltrip, driving Junior Johnson's #11 Chevy led the race over Tim Richmond in the #27 Raymond Beadle Pontiac after the restart with 23 laps to go. Richard Petty was in third place. With less than ten laps to go Waltrip's car noticeably slowed and appeared to wiggle slightly exiting turn two and allowed Petty to duck below for the lead and race win. Cale Yarborough in the #28 Ranier Racing Chevy was two laps down and also passed Waltrip and was on Petty's rear bumper when the checkered flag fell. The race highlights are available to view on YouTube. No direct link is allowed.

During victory lane celebrations a NASCAR[4] official noticed that Petty's race car had left side tires mounted on the right side of the car, which was a violation of the rules. NASCAR sent Petty's Pontiac into the enclosed Union 76 garage inspection area for a complete engine teardown and detailed inspection.

After a four-hour inspection of the Petty Enterprises race car, NASCAR determined the engine in Petty's car was over the limit in cubic inches as specified in the rule book. The Petty team was penalized 104 points and fined $35,000. for the rule violations involving the tires and engine.[4][5] The engine was determined to be 381.983 cubic inches,[4][5] well over the specifications in the NASCAR rulebook for 1983 which stipulated a maximum of 358 cubic inches.

Petty co-crew chiefs Robin Pemberton[6] and Larry Pollard stated that during the last pit stop of the race they put softer compound bias-ply tires designed for the left side of the cars on the right side of Petty's race car. The softer left side tires provided more traction when attached to the right side of a stock car and worked best when used during cool cloudy weather days[7] which prevents the softer tires from quickly wearing out if mounted on the right side of the cars.

NASCAR allowed the win to stand because the second place car of Waltrip was quickly removed from the track in the team hauler rig after the race ended and could not be inspected to determine if it was legal or not. NASCAR stated that they wanted fans to leave the track knowing who won the race.[8]

Ironically, ten years earlier at this race the winning Chevy of Cale Yarborough (owned by Junior Johnson) and Richard Petty's second place Dodge were both submitted to long inspections after the race for allegedly having oversized engines. NASCAR admitted in the days after the 1973 race controversy that their pre-race inspection system needed to be improved.[9]

This was the 198th race win in Petty's career.[10] The total amount of prize money offered to all NASCAR Winston Cup Series drivers for this race was a then-incredible $352,430. and was one of the top paying races of the 1983 season.[11]

Top ten finishers[edit]

Pos[2] Grid No. Driver Manufacturer Laps Laps led Points Time/Status
1 20 43 Richard Petty Pontiac 334 23 76 3:34:43
2 6 11 Darrell Waltrip Chevrolet 334 18 175 +3.4 seconds
3 2 55 Benny Parsons Chevrolet 334 52 170 Lead lap under green flag
4 5 44 Terry Labonte Chevrolet 334 31 165 Lead lap under green flag
5 1 27 Tim Richmond Pontiac 334 99 165 Lead lap under green flag
6 3 21 Buddy Baker Ford 334 37 155 Lead lap under green flag
7 25 22 Bobby Allison Buick 334 3 151 Lead lap under green flag
8 7 9 Bill Elliott Ford 334 43 147 Lead lap under green flag
9 13 3 Ricky Rudd Chevrolet 333 1 143 +1 lap
10 11 28 Cale Yarborough Chevrolet 333 10 139 +1 lap

Standings after the race[edit]

Pos Driver Points[2] Differential
1 1rightarrow.png Bobby Allison 4229 0
2 1rightarrow.png Darrell Waltrip 4162 -67
3 1rightarrow.png Bill Elliott 3849 -380
4 1rightarrow.png Richard Petty 3658 -571
5 1rightarrow.png Harry Gant 3574 -655
6 Increase Terry Labonte 3513 -716
7 Decrease Neil Bonnett 3497 -732
8 Increase Ricky Rudd 3381 -848
8 1rightarrow.png Dale Earnhardt 3381 -848
10 Increase Tim Richmond 3176 -1053


  1. ^ Weather information for the 1983 Miller High Life 500 at the Old Farmer's Almanac
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j 1983 Miller High Life 500 racing information at Racing Reference
  3. ^ "Charlotte NASCAR Climatology" (PDF). SERCC. Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  4. ^ a b c 1983 Miller High Life 500 racing information at NASCAR.com
  5. ^ a b 1983 Miller High Life 500 racing information at How Stuff Works
  6. ^ Robin Pemberton
  7. ^ [1] Weather Underground Data for Charlotte, NC - October 9, 1983.
  8. ^ 1973 National 500
  9. ^ Richard Petty's Controversial Win at World Motorsports 101
  10. ^ Monetary prize amount for the 1983 Miller High Life 500 at Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet
Preceded by
1983 Holly Farms 400
NASCAR Winston Cup Series races
Succeeded by
1983 Warner W. Hodgdon American 500
Preceded by
1983 Winston 500
Richard Petty's Career Wins
Succeeded by
1984 Budweiser 500