Indy 500 1983: Sneva’s last-gasp success
Watch this video of the last 10 laps of the 1983 Indianapolis 500 and you’ll quickly realise why the climax to America’s biggest race that May is remembered as one of the best.
The 67th running of the 500-mile Indycar classic came into its own on the 190th lap when the Bignotti-Cotter-run March of Tom Sneva got the jump on leading duo Al Unser, a three-time Indy winner, and his son Al Jr, who was making his debut at The Brickyard.
After a troubled practice session in which Sneva’s Texaco-branded March 83C had lunched three of its Cosworth DFX engines and barely run 200 miles of practice, the Washington driver’s chances on raceday were not rated highly.
Against the odds, however, Sneva made his way to the front – thanks to a new engine with different internals. He got the jump on Unser Jr at Turn 1 after the race’s final yellow-flag period and moved into second. His final target was the works Penske of Unser Sr, who by this stage was fighting a poor-handling car. Two corners later and the lead was Sneva’s. He quickly pulled away to record his first Indy win and only his second career 500-mile success.
“The car felt good all day,” Sneva reported from Victory Lane. “The motor I had today was super and I want to say that the guys did a heck of a job in the end. Once I got round those Unsers near the end I knew I was in good shape because the car felt so good.”
67th Indianapolis 500, May 29 1983
1. Tom Sneva (USA), March-Cosworth 83C – 200 laps
2. Al Unser Sr (USA), Penske-Cosworth PC11 – 200 laps
3. Rick Mears (USA), Penske-Cosworth PC11 – 200 laps
4. Geoff Brabham (AUS), Penske-Cosworth PC10 – 199 laps
5. Kevin Cogan (USA), March-Cosworth 83C – 198 laps
6. Howdy Holmes (USA), March-Cosworth 83C – 198 laps