Jun
17

Racing Replay: 1983 Winston 500

By John Calla

Here’s a look back at a portion of the 1983 Winston 500 from Talladega Superspeedway. Watching this video impresses a few things upon me.

First… the TV coverage was radically different than today. The commentary was substantially more dramatic — and serious — than what we see today. It’s as if they were trying to convey that the speeds incur a certain amount of danger, and that danger feeds into the excitement of the event. (Very politically incorrect these days.) Certainly the camera work and technology wasn’t what it is today… but listening to the call of the race… don’t you get the impression that something exciting is occurring? Today’s coverage is a combination of jokery and doldrums.

Second… it’s amazing how crude things were back then, i.e., regarding safety. I mean those guys must have really had some guts to race under those conditions.

Third… restarts were just plain badass without restrictor plates.

So here’s the setup to the clip. All day the talk was about the high speeds (pole speed was over 202 mph), but the race had been without incident. Pole sitter Cale Yarborough had led much of the race with Buddy Baker, Neil Bonnett and Dale Earnhardt among those up front. We pick up with Ron Bouchard leading the field to a restart on lap 70.

Paul Page, Gary Gerould and Johnny Rutherford call the race for NBC.

BTW Richard Petty went on to win the race (his 197th win), which featured 26 lead changes among 13 drivers. And… Dale Earnhardt was driving a Ford Thunderbird… heh.

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