At the 1981 US Grand Prix West at Long Beach, Riccardo Patrese sensationally scored his first and Arrows’ only Formula One pole position. It was a huge surprise, although Patrese pace was known, but the Williams’ were considered to be a much better package than the Arrows. Talent showed. In the race, the Italian led until retiring with mechanical issues on lap 33 of 80.
Defending World Champion Alan Jones finished nine seconds ahead of team mate Carlos Reutemann, and won his first Long Beach Grand Prix. It was the third consecutive Grand Prix win for Jones, after seizing the 1980 Drivers World Title.