A Look Back: The 1983 Miller High Life 500
Tuesday, 13 October 2009 23:00

darrell-waltripLowe’s Motor Speedway, formerly Charlotte Motor Speedway, is a favorite track for the NASCAR drivers and their teams because the tracks is basically right in their backyard.


Like all athletes, drivers like to show off in front of their home crowd but on occasion their desire to win becomes a priority over everything else, including the rule book.



In the 1983 Miller High Life 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the “King” Richard Petty won his 198th career victory and the win was both on and off the track.


While he was celebrating in Victory Lane, it became apparent that the King’s tires were improperly mounted, more specifically left side tires were mounted on the right side of the car resulting in more traction.


During the post-race technical inspection, another illegal discovery was made.


Petty had won with a motor that was larger than the rule book allowed. The rule listed 358 cubic inches maximum for the motor; Petty’s measured 381.983 cubic inches, not a small oversight.


Earlier that same year, Tim Richmond was penalized five laps for the same tire infraction, not to mention an oversized motor. 


But, Petty was allowed to keep his victory minus 104 driver points and $35,000. Considering he won $40,400 in the race, the fine certainly was not too detrimental to his team.


Darrell Waltrip, who finished 2nd to Petty by 3.1 seconds and had been leading prior to being overcome by the King with 23 laps to go, was quite unhappy with NASCAR’s ruling.


“This is all in total contradiction of the most flagrant rules violation,” Waltrip said, according to Greg Fielden’s book Forty Years Of Stock Car Racing. “There was supposed to have been some standard. I’m not mad at Petty, but somebody fouled up in their job. I ran the best I could and he went by me like I was tied. As far as I’m concerned, I won the race.”


Petty accepted the punishment but did not accept any personal blame for the mistake.


“We at Petty Enterprises accept the penalty,” he said, according to Fielden’s book. “I’m only the driver and don’t know anything about the motor or the tires.”


So, Petty got his 198th career victory in front of his home crowd, big motor and all.