Racing History

Looking Back – Feb. 16, 2011

TEAM STRONG: Richard Petty (43) leads Petty Enterprises teammate Pete Hamilton during the July 1970 NASCAR weekend at Daytona Int’l Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Chris Economaki Photo)

50 Years Ago – February 16, 1961

Bob DeJong and Dean Holden won the 30-lap features as the indoor midget season concluded with two nights of racing at California’s Oakland Exposition Building. Tommy Copp finished fifth in the Saturday finale to claim the Pacific Coast Indoor Racing Championship. Copp, who won the 1959 title, edged Johnny Baldwin by 17 points.

25 Years Ago – February 12, 1986

Driving Paul Morgan’s No. 6 Consolidated Credit Challenger, Bobby Davis, Jr. won three of the four All Star Circuit of Champions sprint-car features at East Bay Raceway in Gibsonton, Fla. Rocky Hodges topped the other East Bay main while Steve Kinser was the class of the field at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa.

Countdown To 100 – 1995 – Jacques Villeneuve

Jacques Villeneuve overcame a botched pit stop, a two-lap penalty for passing the pace car, a second botched pit stop and the best efforts of Scott Goodyear to win the 79th Indianapolis 500 on May 28, 1995.

Villeneuve, the first Canadian to win at Indianapolis, inherited the lead on lap 196 when USAC officials pulled Goodyear’s scorecard for failing to heed the black flag. Officials claimed Goodyear passed the pace car on a lap-190 restart.

For the first time since 1969, Roger Penske did not have a car in the 500 as Emerson Fittipaldi and Al Unser, Jr. failed to qualify for the 33-car field.

Newsmaker – Johnny Rutherford

Former IMCA sprint-car racer Johnny Rutherford recorded his first USAC National Championship victory on Aug. 1, 1965, topping the 250-mile event at Atlanta Int’l Raceway.

A.J. Foyt started from the pole and dominated until the 108th lap when a broken left-rear suspension sent his rear-engined machine into a spin and out of the race.

Rutherford, 27, of Fort Worth, Texas, assumed command and was never in trouble until the final three laps when his rear sway bar broke. Rutherford nursed his machine to the checkered flag ahead of Mario Andretti.

Later in the year, Rutherford edged Greg Weld by two points to win the USAC sprint-car championship.

Chris’s Column – July 20, 1966

“If you want to see great racing, catch a NASCAR Grand National on a half-mile dirt track. The show here (Fonda, N.Y.), on Thursday night, drew the third largest crowd in the racing history of the fairgrounds and the biggest in several years. A 31-car field started and it was broadsliding at its very best. The last 50 miles was a ding-dong duel between Richard Petty and David Pearson, who victored for the 11th time this season.”

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