Wednesday, July 4, 2012

1961 - Nelson wheels to victory at Raceway Park

Indianapolis, Ind. (July 4, 1961) – Norm Nelson, USAC national stock car champion last year, won a wire to wire victory in the 100-lap stock car race at Indianapolis Raceway Park Tuesday.

Nelson, of Racine, Wis., averaged 74.36 miles an hour in his 1961 Ford and was 2.8 seconds ahead of Paul Goldsmith, St. Clair Shores, Mich.

Goldsmith trailed nearly a half-lap in his 1961 Pontiac during the middle laps but started making his bid at the 80-lap mark. However, he was through the 62.5 miles before he could catch the flying Nelson. They were the only two in the same lap at the end of the contest.

Nineteen stockers were still running when the checkered flag fluttered. There were 26 starters. Third place went to Whitey Gerken of Chicago in a 1961 Chevrolet and Elmer Musgrave, Miles, Ill., was fourth in a 1961 Ford.

Following in order were Don White, Keokuk, Iowa, Ray Berry, LaGrange, Ill.; Iggy Katona, Willis, Mich.; Eddie Sachs, Center Valley, Pa.; Gordon Gorman, Libertyville, Ill., and Donald O’Dell, Palo Heights, Ill.

Nelson scored a clean sweep in the day’s card. He had the fastest qualification at 28.37 and won both the first 10-lap heat and a four-lap trophy dash for the four fastest qualifiers. He drew $818 out of a $4,500 purse. Goldsmith collected $526.

Starting on the pole in the 100-lap dash, Nelson built a lead of about five seconds over Goldsmith, who moved from third starting slot to take over runner-up spot. Sachs, runner-up in this year’s Indianapolis 500, moved into third at 20 laps and held it until he had to stop for a tire change after 65 laps.

Another 500 veteran, Bill Cheesbourg of Tucson, Ariz., had a tough afternoon at the top of the 5/8-mile asphalt track. He was riding close behind Sachs in the trophy dash when Eddie spun out of the north turn and collided with Cheesbourg. In the first heat the Arizonan was caught in a three-car tangle on the final lap with White and Les Snow, Bloomington, Ill., in the middle of the north turn. And on the 14th lap of the feature, his 1959 Ford blew a tire again in the north turn.

Results –
1. Norm Nelson
2. Paul Goldsmith
3. Whitey Gerken
4. Elmer Musgrave
5. Don White
6. Ray Berry
7. Iggy Katona
8. Eddie Sachs
9. Gordon Gorman
10. Don O’ Dell

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