| Carolina 500|
| March 13, 1983 (1983-March-13)|
North Carolina Motor Speedway, Rockingham, North Carolina
Permanent racing facility
1.017 mi (1.636 km)
492 laps, 500 mi (804 km)
Mild with temperatures approaching 70 °F (21 °C); wind speeds up to 11.8 miles per hour (19.0 km/h)
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 the American community of 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.
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 backwards 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 duel to the checkered flag.
1983 Warner W. Hodgdon Carolina 500 Wikipedia
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). 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. 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. 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. The event was marred by 1.1 inches (28 mm) of rainfall forcing the race to be postponed for a week.
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. Ricky Rudd won the pole position by qualifying with a top speed of 143.413 miles per hour or 230.801 kilometres per hour. 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. Joe Ruttman would lose his championship lead to Bill Elliott after this event was over. 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 ($58,071.35 when adjusted for inflation) to the last-place finisher's purse of $910 ($2,188.20 when adjusted for inflation). The total prize purse offered at this event was $199,065 ($478,673.84 when adjusted for inflation).