| February 15, 1981 (1981-02-15)|
Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Florida
Permanent racing facility
2.5 mi (4.02336 km)
200 laps, 500 mi (804.672 km)
Chilly with temperatures reaching up to 69.1 °F (20.6 °C); wind speeds approaching 15.9 miles per hour (25.6 km/h)
169.651 miles per hour (273.027 km/h)
The 1981 Daytona 500, the 23rd running of the event, was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race held at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. It was held on Sunday, February 15, 1981.
During the preceding season, NASCAR had completely stopped tracking the year model of all the vehicles and most teams did not take stock cars to the track under their own power anymore.
1981 Daytona 500 Wikipedia
Contested over 200 laps and over the course of 2 hours and 56 minutes, the race was won by Richard Petty for his first win of the season and record seventh at the Daytona 500, beating Bobby Allison to the line by 3.5 seconds. Ricky Rudd, Buddy Baker, and Dale Earnhardt rounded out the Top 5. A new breed of downsized cars would make their debut at this race; making the vehicles from the previous season look like, in NASCAR fans' opinions, taxi cabs.
The victory, which made Petty become the first-ever driver to win the Daytona 500 in three different decades, was made possible by a strategy devised by Petty's crew chief Dale Inman, who was working his final race with the team before leaving to become Earnhardt's crew chief. On Petty's final scheduled pit stop with 24 laps to go, Inman opted not to change his tires and only took on fuel. The race was contested in front of 130,000 paying spectators and featured 49 lead changes. 18 laps were run under the caution flag.
Petty earned $90,575 ($238,604.79 when adjusted for inflation) for winning, the greatest purse of his entire career. Blackie Wangerin finished last at the event after an accident on lap 17.