1981 Budweiser NASCAR 400

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Coordinates: 30°32′13″N 96°13′16″W / 30.537°N 96.221°W / 30.537; -96.221

1981 Budweiser NASCAR 400
Race details[1]
Race 14 of 31 in the 1981 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season
Layout of Texas World Speedway
Layout of Texas World Speedway
Date June 7, 1981 (1981-June-07)
Official name Texas 400
Location Texas World Speedway, College Station, Texas
Course Permanent racing facility
2.000 mi (3.218 km)
Distance 250 laps, 400 mi (404 km)
Weather Extremely hot with temperatures of 91 °F (33 °C); wind speeds of 12.8 miles per hour (20.6 km/h)
Average speed 132.475 miles per hour (213.198 km/h)
Attendance 18,000[2]
Pole position
Driver Hagan Enterprises
Most laps led
Driver Dale Earnhardt Osterlund Motorsports
Laps 96
No. 15 Benny Parsons Bud Moore Engineering
Television in the United States
Network untelevised
Announcers none

The 1981 Budweiser NASCAR 400 was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing event that took place on June 7, 1981, at Texas World Speedway in College Station, Texas.


Texas World Speedway was built in 1969 and is one of only seven superspeedways of two miles (3 km) or greater in the United States used for racing, the others being Indianapolis, Daytona, Pocono, Talladega, Auto Club, and Michigan (there are several tracks of similar size used for vehicle testing). TWS is located on approximately 600 acres (2.4 km²) on State Highway 6 in College Station, Texas. There is a 2-mile (3 km) oval, and several road course configurations. The full oval configuration is closely related to that of Michigan and is often considered the latter's sister track, featuring steeper banking, at 22 degrees in the turns, 12 degrees at the start/finish line, and only 2 degrees along the backstretch,[3] compared to Michigan's respective 18, 12, and 5 degrees. The last major race occurred at the track in 1981. The track was used by amateur racing clubs such as the SCCA, NASA, Porsche Club of America, Corinthian Vintage Auto Racing, CMRA, driving schools and car clubs, as well as hosting music concerts and the like. The speedway was also a race track location for the video game, Need for Speed: Pro Street.

During the 1980s the track fell into a state of disrepair, and both NASCAR and the Indy cars chose to drop it from their respective schedules. It continued to operate in a limited role for amateur racing.

Race report[edit]

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.

34 drivers qualified for this 200-lap race; with Baxter Price, Kirk Shelmerdine and D.K. Ulrich quitting the race early on in this three-hour-long session.[2] Morgan Shepherd's vehicle developed a problematic radiator on lap 17 while a faulty cylinder head forced Darrell Waltrip out of the race on lap 33.[2]

The track was evidently in horrible shape even then. It had rained non-stop for the two days prior to the race, and a couple of drivers slid and got stuck in the mud. Kyle Petty's engine suddenly stopped working on lap 34; the wreckers couldn't even get to him for fear of getting stuck.[2] Rick Newsom inflicted terminal vehicle damage on lap 40.[2] Engine problems would claim the vehicles of Roger Hamby on lap 72 in addition to Bobby Wawak on lap 92 and James Hylton on lap 115.[2] Ricky Ruddy's engine stopped working on lap 122 where Terry Labonte was involved in a crash on lap 131.[2] Before Labonte's crash, he had put on a daring move to barely beat leaders Parsons and Earnhardt to the line to get back on the lead lap. Randy Ogden managed to lose the rear end of his vehicle on lap 137 while Rick Baldwin managed to blow his vehicle's engine on lap 149.[2]

It was an awesome battle between Benny Parsons and Dale Earnhardt over the last 90 laps the lead was traded between them 16 times with Parsons coming out on top; beating the Intimidator by slightly more than half a second.[2] All of the drivers were born in the United States of America. Only three drivers remained on the lead lap at the end of the race: Benny Parsons, Dale Earnhardt, and Bobby Allison.[2] Eighteen thousand people would come to see 35 different lead changes.[2] Many of these lead changed occurred under green flag racing.[2] Regardless of the problems that the drivers faced during the race and the resulting separation of the field at the finish, there was still tight competition for the lead throughout the entire race.[2]

Other notable participants at the race were: Richard Petty, J.D. McDuffie, Richard Childress, Terry Labonte, Ricky Rudd, and Kyle Petty. Crashes and engine problems also made up the bulk of the drivers who failed to finish the race. The winner received $22,750 in total winnings ($62,696 when considering inflation) while last-place finisher Baxter Price received a meager $900 ($2,480 when considering inflation).[2]

Notable crew chiefs for this event included Junie Donlavey, Joey Arrington, Darel Dieringer, Elmo Langley, Travis Carter, Waddell Wilson, Jabe Thomas, Tim Brewer, and Kirk Shelmerdine.[4]

The total purse for this event was $179,075 ($493,505 when considering inflation).[5]

Top ten finishers[edit]

Pos[2] Grid No. Driver Manufacturer Laps Winnings Laps led Points Time/Status
1 4 15 Benny Parsons Ford 200 $22,750 58 180 3:01:10
2 3 2 Dale Earnhardt Pontiac 200 $18,650 96 180 +0.51 seconds
3 2 28 Bobby Allison Buick 200 $14,650 17 170 Lead lap under green flag
4 5 43 Richard Petty Buick 199 $12,550 0 160 +1 lap
5 13 71 Dave Marcis Buick 198 $8,935 0 155 +2 laps
6 6 90 Jody Ridley Ford 198 $8,610 1 155 +2 laps
7 16 99 Tim Richmond Oldsmobile 196 $6,840 0 146 +4 laps
8 14 66 Lake Speed Oldsmobile 196 $5,630 4 147 +4 laps
9 12 6 Joe Ruttman Buick 195 $3,100 3 143 +5 laps
10 7 33 Harry Gant Pontiac 193 $2,700 4 139 +7 laps

Standings after the race[edit]

Pos Driver Points[2] Differential
1 1rightarrow.png Bobby Allison 2256 0
2 1rightarrow.png Ricky Rudd 1984 -272
3 1rightarrow.png Darrell Waltrip 1915 -341
4 1rightarrow.png Harry Gant 1890 -366
5 1rightarrow.png Dale Earnhardt 1848 -408
6 1rightarrow.png Jody Ridley 1817 -439
7 1rightarrow.png Terry Labonte 1750 -506
8 1rightarrow.png Richard Petty 1711 -545
9 Increase Benny Parsons 1634 -622
10 Decrease Buddy Arrington 1615 -641


  1. ^ Weather information for the 1981 Budweiser NASCAR 400 at The Old Farmers' Almanac
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p 1981 Budweiser NASCAR 400 racing information at Racing Reference
  3. ^ "1978 USAC Texas Grand Prix telecast".
  4. ^ 1981 Budweiser NASCAR 400 crew chiefs information at Racing Reference
  5. ^ 1981 Budweiser NASCAR 400 racing information at Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet
Preceded by
1981 World 600
NASCAR Winston Cup Series Season
Succeeded by
1981 Warner W. Hodgdon 400