Racing History

Looking Back – Jan. 26, 2011

BRISTOL DEBUT: Jim Paschal (44) and Marvin Porter battle side by side as a full house looks on at the first NASCAR race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway July 30, 1961. (Chris Economaki Photo)

BRISTOL DEBUT: Jim Paschal (44) and Marvin Porter battle side by side as a full house looks on at the first NASCAR race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway July 30, 1961. (Chris Economaki Photo)

50 Years Ago — January 25, 1961

NASCAR has contracted to sanction racing at a paved half-mile track under construction near Bristol, Tenn. The new speedway is being built on a 100-acre tract four miles south of Bristol. The grandstands will initially seat 20,000. The track is scheduled to open July 30 with the Volunteer 500 for NASCAR’s Grand National division.

25 Years Ago — January 22, 1986

The cover of NSSN featured the first photos of the radical Polimotor, a V-6 engine designed for Indy-car racing and constructed primarily of plastic. Several inches shorter and 200 pounds lighter than the Cosworth, the Polimotor’s block, pistons, rods, timing sprockets and other key components are made of ultra-light Torlon.

Countdown To 100 — 1992 – Al Unser, Jr.

Al Unser, Jr. took the lead with 10 laps remaining when Michael Andretti’s car slowed on the backstretch, and then held off Scott Goodyear in the closest Indianapolis 500 finish as .043 of a second separated the two cars at the end of the 1992 race.

Ten crashes slowed the 76th running of the 500 to an average of 134.479 mph, the slowest race since Jimmy Bryan averaged 133.791 mph in 1958.

Goodyear nearly denied Unser his first Indy victory with a dramatic charge off of the final turn, but fell just inches short. Al Unser and Al, Jr. became the first father-and-son winners of the Indianapolis 500.

Newsmaker — Rodger Ward

Rodger Ward’s amazing 1962 season came to a crashing halt on Friday, Oct. 12, at California’s Riverside Int’l Raceway.

Ward, who won the Indianapolis 500 in May and had already clinched the USAC National Championship, suffered a broken back when his Chevrolet-powered Chaparral careened off the track during practice.

Ward was traveling at more than 100 mph on the main straightaway when the car’s right-front spindle broke. The Chaparral shot off the track near the first turn, roared through a field and into a ditch where it flipped twice.

Although Ward was able to walk away from the wreckage, X-rays revealed he had a compression fracture of the second lumbar vertebra in his lower spine.

Chris’s Column — September 11, 1963

“Mobil is reportedly coming to the Offy owners’ aid with a new racing fuel which gives substantially increased mileage. This to offset the weight advantage enjoyed by the Lotus Fords at Indy that burn gas which gives up to twice the mileage the alky boys get…Emil Andres, USAC’s stock car racing boss, is being badgered by a group of sporty Chicagoans to form an all-Corvette division for pro racing on any kind of track.”

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