Thursday, August 15, 2019

1981 - Snider is Bettenhausen Winner

George Snider cools off in victory lane after winning the Tony Bettenhausen Memorial at the Springfield Mile. - Terry Young Collection

Springfield, Ill. (August 15, 1981) - George Snider regained the lead on the 85th lap and zoomed to a 22-second victory in Saturday’s 100-mile Tony Bettenhausen Memorial Race for United States Auto Club championship dirt cars.

Larry Rice, of Brownsburg, Ind., finished second with veteran Jim McElreath of Arlington, Texas, third as only the leading three of the race’s 26 cars completed 100 laps, each a mile long. Engine problems caused many of the cars to drop out. Joe Saldana, of Lincoln, Neb., was fourth, having run 99 laps.

It was the first championship dirt car win in 10 years for Snider, of Bakersfield, Calif. He initially had taken the lead from pole winner Tom Bigelow of Whitewater, Wis., on the 66th lap and held it until the 73rd. Roger Rager, of Mound, Minn., then grabbed the lead but was overtaken by Snider on the backstretch of the 85th lap. Snider pulled away from the field to earn $8,250.

Rager, who ran out of gas on the 93rd lap, finished eighth. Bigelow, the leader for the first 65 laps, Rich Vogler and Gary Gray, both of Indianapolis, and McElreath all tangled coming out of the first turn of the 69th. Bigelow and Gray flipped their cars but were unhurt.

The accident brought out the red flag, however, and temporarily stopped the race, which also was hampered by four yellow flag situations. Morning rain caused a 3-hour, 10-minute delay in starting the race.

Results –

1. George Snider
2. Larry Rice
3. Jim McElreath
4. Jack Hewitt
5. Joe Saldana
6. Chuck Amati
7. Johnny Coogan
8. Roger Rager
9. Greg Leffler
10. Art Bisch Jr.
11. Rich Vogler
12. Tom Bigelow
13. Gary Gray
14. Tracy Potter
15. Ron Shuman
16. Ken Schrader
17. Billy Vukovich
18. Bobby Olivero
19. Mark Alderson
20. Gary Bettenhausen
21. Larry Dickson
22. Sheldon Kinser
23. Larry Martin
24. Johnny Parsons
25. Manny Rockhold
26. Steve Chassey

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