1983 Southern 500 (lost footage of NASCAR Winston Cup Series race; existence unconfirmed; 1983)

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Program for the race.

Status: Existence Unconfirmed

The 1983 Southern 500 was the 22nd race of the 1983 NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Occurring on 5th September at the Darlington Raceway, the race would ultimately be won by Bobby Allison in a Buick, climbing the order after starting from 14th.


The 1983 Southern 500 was 32nd running of the event, with the annual race typically lasting around 500 miles in length.[1] It was one of two 1983 Winston Cup races at Darlington Raceway, the other being the TranSouth 500,[2] which occurred on 10th April and was won by Harry Gant in a Buick.[3] The Southern 500 was typically held around Labor Day weekend; after the two Darlington races were merged into one 400 mile race for 2005,[4] the Southern 500's legacy would continue in modern times under the current name of the Cook Out Southern 500,[5] having returned back to its Labor Day weekend date from 2015.[4]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with Neil Bonnett winning the pole position in a Chevrolet with a speed of 157.187 mph.[1] Directly behind him were fellow Chevrolet drivers Terry Labonte and Lake Speed, in second and third respectively.[1] Allison qualified only 14th out of 41 competitors, but was nevertheless determined to finish ahead of Waltrip for the first time in four races, Waltrip having qualified seventh in a Chevrolet.[6][1] He was also seeking to achieve the Darlington double, having won the TranSouth 500 earlier in the year.[3]

The Race

With the starting order decided, the 1983 Southern 500 commenced on 5th September.[1] Bonnett controlled the race from the start, defending his lead for 80 laps until dropping it to Chevrolet's David Pearson.[1] Pearson led for 17 laps before dropping it to Ricky Rudd in a Chevrolet, who then dropped it to a fast-charging Allison on lap 100.[6][1] Nevertheless, the battle for the lead remained open until Waltrip led from laps 105 to 132.[1] Chevrolet's Cale Yarborough briefly led soon afterwards, only for Rudd to take charge and lead uninterrupted from laps 134 to 207.[1] This stint would be ended by Allison on lap 208, with him holding it for another 16 laps.[1]

Later in the race, Bonnett and Ford's Buddy Baker led for some time.[1] However, on lap 265, Allison overtook Bonnett from the first position and began to dominate the remainder of the race, leading 74 consecutive laps.[1] Bill Elliott overtook Allison in a Ford on lap 339, but the latter regained it three laps later.[1] He successfully protected it against Elliott to claim victory by a 9.38-second margin and $42,050 in prize money.[1][6] Elliott finished second, while Waltrip beat Bonnett for third.[1] This proved to be Allison's fourth victory of 1983 as well as his fourth Southern 500.[6]


According to NASCAR on TV, it was reported that the race was televised by ABC, a tradition as it had broadcast the race since 1962.[7] However, the website claims that there is no proof that the race was shown.[7] Nevertheless, it does note that a big race is likely to be televised by this point,[7] but no footage of the race is currently publicly available. However, some publicly viewable photos, including Allison being interviewed by MRN's Ned Jarrett and another interviewer,[8] provides further evidence of a television broadcast.



See Also