|Official name Winston Western 500|
|Date November 17, 1985 (1985-November-17)|
Location Riverside International Raceway, Riverside, California
Course Permanent racing facility 2.700 mi (4.345 km)
Distance 119 laps, 311.8 mi (501.7 km)
Weather Chilly with temperatures approaching 66 °F (19 °C); wind speeds up to 12 miles per hour (19 km/h)
The 1985 Winston Western 500 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing event that took place on November 17, 1985, at Riverside International Raceway in Riverside, California.
With one race remaining in the championship, Bill Elliott, who won 11 races, trailed Darrell Waltrip by 20 points (between 4-7 positions depending on order of finish -- the equivalent of 4-7 points under the 2011 scoring system). Qualifying was held on Friday and Terry Labonte scored the pole with a time of 1:20.658.
The 500-kilometer race, lasting 119 laps, would have the championship battle come down to the first six laps of the race. The gearshift lever on Elliott's car broke on the sixth lap, necessitating repairs that lasted thirty minutes, or roughly 22 laps of the race. It would prove costly. Waltrip finished seventh and locked down the championship on Lap 99. Pit strategy effectively determined the race. On the penultimate pit stop, Labonte's Billy Hagan pit crew changed two tires, while Ricky Rudd's Bud Moore Engineering Ford team changed four tires. On the final round of pit stops, the opposite took place, allowing Rudd to defeat Labonte by almost half a second in front of 40000 live audience members. Three cautions were given for 11 laps; allowing for 14 changes in the first-place position.
The short track program cars that Elliott drove in 1985 were certainly a huge part of the problem. If Elliot had Ricky Rudd's short track Thunderbirds in 1985, he would have easily won the 1985 championship.
Blair Aiken, Clark Dwyer, and John Soares, Jr would retire after the end of the race while Scott Autrey and Bud Hickey would make their only Winston Cup Series appearance at this event.