1981 CRC Chemicals 500 (lost footage of NASCAR Winston Cup Series race; 1981)

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1981crcchemicals5001.jpg

Program for the race.

Status: Lost

The 1981 CRC Chemicals 500 was the 25th race of the 1981 NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Occurring on 20th September at the Dover Downs International Speedway, the race would ultimately be won by Neil Bonnett in a Ford, having lapped the entire field prior to the finish.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 1981 CRC Chemicals 500 was the 11th running of the event, with the annual race typically lasting around 500 miles in length.[1] It was one of two 1981 Winston Cup races at Dover Downs International Speedway, the other being the Mason-Dixon 500,[2] which occurred on 17th May and was won by Jody Ridley in a Ford.[3] It was the third instance of the event displaying title sponsor CRC Chemicals, which lasted until 1982.[4] The CRC Chemicals 500 also has ties to the Drydene 311, having been reduced in milage since 1997 and having not been held since 2020.[4]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Ricky Rudd winning the pole position in a Chevrolet with a speed of 136.757 mph.[1] Directly behind him was Buick's Darrel Waltrip, with Neil Bonnett lining up third.[1]

The Race[edit | edit source]

With the starting order decided, the 1981 CRC Chemicals 500 commenced on 20th September.[1] Rudd maintained the lead from the start, and remained there for the first 54 laps before being overtaken by Buick's Richard Petty. Petty would then drop the first position to fellow Buick driver Bobby Allison, and aside from a brief lead change from Rudd, began to dominated the early stages, including leading from lap 62 to 122 uninterrupted.[1] Chevrolet's Dave Marcis briefly led on lap 123 before Allison led for the next eight laps.[1] However, Bonnett began to enter the race for the lead, and after brief leads from Petty, Waltrip, and Terry Labonte in a Buick, started controlling the race, leading 88 consecutive laps starting from lap 147.[1]

Pontiac driver Joe Ruttman then briefly led on lap 235 before Bonnett took over for the next 13.[1] Suddenly, Pontiac's Harry Gant began to challenge for the lead, succeeding in the overtake on lap 249.[1] He proved dominant for the next stage of the race, leading 160 consecutive laps.[1] Bonnett was determined to win however, and moved back into the first position on lap 409.[1] Gant nevertheless retook the lead on lap 420, and was defending the first position until his engine failed after 437 laps, putting him out of the running and giving Bonnett back the lead.[1] From there, Bonnett faced no further competition; in fact, for the remaining 63 laps, he would lap the entire field, eventually crossing the line a lap and 15 seconds ahead to claim victory and $19,000 in prize money.[1] Waltrip finished second, with Allison taking third.[1]

Availability[edit | edit source]

According to NASCAR on TV, ESPN reportedly televised highlights of the event.[5] However, no broadcast has resurfaced, with NASCAR on TV also stating that official confirmation that a broadcast occurred has not yet been achieved.[5] Nevertheless, it does note the existence of a news feature that credited ESPN for providing footage, indicating the possibility an ESPN airing did occur.[5] According to Racing-Reference, said news clip was uploaded to YouTube by MotorsportsHistoryTV, with Wayback Machine analysis revealing the video was uploaded on 22nd March 2015.[6][7] However, the video has since been taken down, with Wayback Machine having not archived it.[7] Thus, no race footage is currently publicly available.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Image[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]