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1981–82 USAC Championship Car season

1981–82 USAC Championship Car season

The 1981–82 USAC Championship Car season consisted of six races, beginning in Speedway, Indiana, on May 24, 1981, and concluding at the same location on May 30, 1982. The USAC National Champion was George Snider. The season included two Indianapolis 500 races. The 1981 winner was Bobby Unser, while the 1982 winner was Gordon Johncock. The schedule included dirt courses for the first time since 1970.

1981-82 USAC Championship Car season
USAC Gold Crown Championship
Start dateMay 24, 1981
End dateMay 30, 1982
National championUnited StatesGeorge Snider
Indianapolis 500 winnerUnited StatesBobby Unser (1981)
United StatesGordon Johncock (1982)

Schedule and results

The United States Auto Club formed the Gold Crown Series in 1981 which was a combination of the Indianapolis 500 and other races including races on dirt tracks. It was set up so that season would extend over the course of two years with the final race of the season being the Indianapolis 500, with all races running on Oval/Speedway courses.

RndDateRace NameLengthTrackLocationTypePole PositionWinning Driver
1May 24United StatesIndianapolis 500-Mile Race500 mi (800 km)Indianapolis Motor SpeedwaySpeedway, IndianaPavedUnited StatesBobby UnserUnited StatesBobby Unser
2June 21United StatesVan Scoy Diamond Mines 500305 mi (491 km)APocono International RacewayLong Pond, PennsylvaniaPavedUnited StatesA. J. FoytUnited StatesA. J. Foyt
3August 15United StatesTony Bettenhausen 100100 mi (160 km)Illinois State FairgroundsSpringfield, IllinoisDirtUnited StatesTom BigelowUnited StatesGeorge Snider
4August 30United StatesDuQuoin 100100 mi (160 km)DuQuoin State FairgroundsDu Quoin, IllinoisDirtUnited StatesBill EngelhartUnited StatesRich Vogler
5September 12United StatesHoosier Hundred100 mi (160 km)Indiana State FairgroundsIndianapolis, IndianaDirtUnited StatesLarry RiceUnited StatesLarry Rice
6May 30United StatesIndianapolis 500-Mile Race500 mi (800 km)Indianapolis Motor SpeedwaySpeedway, IndianaPavedUnited StatesRick MearsUnited StatesGordon Johncock

^A Scheduled for 500 miles, stopped early due to rain.

The season opened with the 1981 Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Bobby Unser would win. Wally Dallenbach Sr. qualified the #40 car for Mario Andretti. However, after the race USAC officials penalized Unser 1 position and the win went to Andretti. Even if Andretti failed to win he would still go into the Van Scoy Diamond Mines 500 at Pocono International Raceway as the points leader as he was in possession of a USAC Class 1 License. The Van Scoy Diamond Mines 500 was won by A. J. Foyt getting Foyt his 67th and final USAC Gold Crown win. The race was cut from 500 miles down to 305 miles due to rain. At the Tony Bettenhausen 100 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds was won by George Snider for his first and only win in USAC Gold Crown competition. At the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds Rich Vogler would win his first and only race in USAC Gold Crown competition. At the Hoosier Hundred at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Larry Rice would win his only USAC Gold Crown race. The 1981 Indianapolis 500 results were changed to Bobby Unser winning the race over Mario Andretti, costing Andretti 200 points. The season ending 1982 Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis 500 was marred by the death of Gordon Smiley during qualifying (he was 36 years old), and at the start 2nd place starter Kevin Cogan would spin into A. J. Foyt Jr.'s car and Mario Andretti's car, while further back in the field Roger Mears, Dale Whittington, and Bobby Rahal would collide. However, Foyt and Rahal were able to continue. Gordon Johncock would beat Rick Mears to the line to win his second Indianapolis 500. George Snider would win the championship with Geoff Brabham 2nd, Tom Bigelow 3rd, A. J. Foyt 4th, and Gordon Johncock 5th.

Final points standings

United States
United States
United States
United States
United States
United States
1United StatesGeorge SniderDNQ4138211395
2AustraliaGeoff Brabham52281310
3United StatesTom Bigelow20312*25181280
4United StatesA. J. Foyt131191045
5United StatesGordon Johncock911000
6United StatesMario Andretti231805
7United StatesRick Mears302*800
8United StatesRich VoglerDNQ111*2DNQ760
9United StatesLarry RiceDNQ212131*DNQ730
10AustraliaVern Schuppan317DNQ720
11United StatesTom Sneva2516*4635
12United StatesJim McElreathDNQ731724DNQ594
13United StatesBill Vukovich, Jr.DNQ6176DNQ568
14United StatesSheldon Kinser622157DNQ536
15United StatesHarry MacDonaldDNQ5500
16United StatesJack Hewitt124413490
17United StatesDon Whittington, Jr.316405
18United StatesGary Bettenhausen26272018312366
19United StatesJoe Saldana5622366
20United StatesRoger RagerDNQ88DNQDNQ350
21United StatesTony Bettenhausen, Jr.726310
22United StatesJim Hickman7300
23United StatesHerm JohnsonDNQ9200
24AustraliaDennis Firestone1027160
25United StatesJohnny Parsons, Jr.DNQ232481620151
26United StatesBill Henderson10150
27United StatesGreg LefflerDNQ9DNS11DNQ100
28United StatesBobby Rahal1170
29United StatesMike Chandler121740
30United StatesBill Whittington211640
31United StatesLarry Dickson18212332
32MexicoHéctor Rebaque1325
33United StatesSteve BallDNQ1425
34United StatesTim Richmond14DNP25
35United StatesDanny Sullivan1425
36United StatesJerry Karl15DNQ25
37United StatesChip Ganassi1525
38United StatesJerry SnevaDNQ252325
39United StatesRichard Hubbard1820
40United StatesDick SimonDNQ20DNQ20
41MexicoJosele Garza232920
42United StatesSteve ChasseyDNQ2614DNQ14
43United StatesDanny Ongais272210
44United StatesSalt Walther26DNQ10
45United StatesKevin Cogan4305
46United StatesTom Klausler295
47United StatesJan Sneva29DNQ5
48United StatesRoger MearsDNQ325
49United StatesMike Mosley33DNQ5
50United StatesDale WhittingtonDNQ335
United StatesBobby Unser1*DNQ0
United StatesPancho Carter2830
United StatesMark Alderson11191940
United StatesBill Tyler15DNQ5DNQ0
United StatesAl Unser1750
United StatesChuck Amati6120
United StatesJerry Nemire790
United StatesJohnny Coogan7DNP0
United StatesJohnny Rutherford3280
United StatesSteve Krisiloff8DNQ0
United StatesJerry MillerDNQDNP9190
United StatesChip Mead9DNQ0
United StatesPaul Pitzer24DNP10170
United StatesLarry Martin23100
United StatesArt Bisch Jr.10DNP0
United StatesHowdy Holmes100
United StatesKen Schrader16110
United StatesBill Alsup11DNQ0
United StatesJerry Weeks120
United StatesSmokey Snellbaker13DNQ150
United StatesGary Gray13DNP0
United StatesJeff Bloom1914180
United StatesTracy Potter1423DNP0
United StatesRon Shuman15DNQ0
United StatesScott Brayton16DNQ0
United StatesSleepy Tripp16DNQ0
United StatesBobby Olivero182120DNP0
United StatesBob Lazier19DNQ0
United StatesBill EngelhartDNQDNQ2026DNQ0
United StatesChuck Gurney210
United StatesGordon Smiley22DNQ0
United StatesDean Vetrock22DNQ0
United StatesGary HieberDNQ220
United StatesPete Halsmer24250
United StatesArnie KnepperDNQ240
United StatesChet Fillip240
United StatesSteve CannonDNQ250
United StatesManny Rockhold25DNP0
United StatesDuke Cook28DNQDNQDNQ0
United StatesSteve KinserDNQDNSDNP0
United StatesBill PuterbaughDNSDNQ0
United StatesWally DallenbachDNS0
United StatesBobby AdkinsDNS0
United StatesGary PattersonDNQDNQDNQ0
United StatesEddie LeavittDNQDNQDNP0
United StatesAl Unser, Jr.DNQDNQ0
United StatesPatrick BedardDNQDNQ0
United StatesPhil CalivaDNQDNQ0
United StatesBob FreyDNQDNQ0
United StatesSpike GehlhausenDNQDNQ0
United StatesKen HamiltonDNQDNQ0
United StatesBob HarkeyDNQDNQ0
United StatesPhil KruegerDNQDNQ0
United StatesJohn MahlerDNQDNQ0
United StatesJohn MartinDNQDNQ0
United StatesLennie WaldoDNPDNQ0
United StatesRichard PowellDNQDNP0
United StatesMack McClellanDNQDNP0
United StatesJack ZieglerDNQDNP0
United StatesRick HoodDNPDNQ0
United StatesTom BagleyDNQ0
United StatesJim BuickDNQ0
United StatesLarry CannonDNQ0
United StatesDick FergusonDNQ0
United StatesJim HurtubiseDNQ0
United StatesBubby JonesDNQ0
United StatesBill TemperoDNQ0
United StatesPhil ThreshieDNQ0
CanadaFrank WeissDNQ0
United StatesBilly EarlDNQ0
United StatesTom FrantzDNQ0
United StatesTom GloyDNQ0
United StatesTom GrunnahDNQ0
United StatesHurley HaywoodDNQ0
United StatesGary IrvinDNQ0
United StatesLee KunzmanDNQ0
United StatesRay LipperDNQ0
United StatesAl LoquastoDNQ0
BelgiumTeddy PiletteDNQ0
United StatesRusty SchmidtDNQ0
United StatesBilly ScottDNQ0
United StatesSammy SwindellDNQ0
United StatesLeroy Van ConettDNQ0
South AfricaDesiré WilsonDNQ0
United StatesKarl BussonDNPDNP0
United StatesLonnie CaruthersDNPDNP0
United StatesRon FiellerDNPDNP0
United StatesMike GreggDNPDNP0
United StatesBobby MarshallDNPDNP0
United StatesBud WilmotDNPDNP0
CanadaBuddie BoysDNP0
United StatesEarle CanavanDNP0
United StatesBobby FisherDNP0
United StatesBill ComptonDNP0
United StatesJerry PotterDNP0
United StatesDean ShirleyDNP0
United StatesJerry StoneDNP0
United StatesMel KenyonDNP0
United StatesRobert TapplyDNP0
United StatesNeil BonnettDNP0
United States
United States
United States
United States
United States
United States
Silver2nd place
Bronze3rd place
Green4th & 5th place
Light Blue6th-10th place
Dark BlueFinished
(Outside Top 10)
PurpleDid not finish
RedDid not qualify
WhiteDid not start
BlankDid not
Not competing
In-line notation
BoldPole position
ItalicsRan fastest race lap
Led most race laps
Rookie of the Year

See also

  • 1981 Indianapolis 500

  • 1982 Indianapolis 500

  • 1981 CART PPG Indy Car World Series

  • 1982 CART PPG Indy Car World Series


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