Thursday, August 29, 2013

1971 - Bobby Unser Captures USAC 100-Miler

Indianapolis, Ind. (August 29, 1971) - In copping the 10th annual State Fair Century 100 USAC stock car title Sunday, Bobby Unser proved not only to be the fastest, but perhaps the strongest of those who survived this pseudo-demolition derby, which forced three re-starts.

Unser grabbed the top spot with 43 laps to go and held on to claim the $6,470 first place payoff.

Defending USAC stock car champ, Roger McCluskey, Tucson, Ariz., was a close second with the nose of A.J. Foyt’s Ford Torino just inches from the bumper of his Plymouth Super Bird.

NASCAR star, Bobby Allison, Hueytown Ala., who was at the wheel of Al Unser’s Rudy Hoerr Ford placed fourth, while the number five slot was earned by Butch Hartman, South Zanesville, Ohio, in a Dodge.

Al passed over the Indianapolis event to spend more time practicing for the upcoming California 500 at the Ontario Motor Speedway this Sunday.

Other leaders in the race were ninth place finisher, Les Snow, Bloomington, Ill., who led for 19 laps and Dewayne “Tiny” Lund, Cross, S.C., who was in control for 10 laps, 27 through 37, until his engine went sour.

Foyt also collected some lap money by leading from the first through the 26th lap.

The junk production started on the fourth lap when Leonard Blanchard of Louisville Ky., wiped out about 30 feet of the inner guard rail while coming out of the second turn. That action stopped the race on the ninth circuit.

Later on the 66th lap, Verlin Eaker, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, crunched a gaping hole in the outside fence between the first and second turns and again the race was halted.

On the 71st lap, just after the race was restarted, Foyt tried to pass the leader Snow, but began to skid sideways. Other cars attempting to avoid Foyt went to the outside and by the time you could say “look out’ at least two-thirds of the field was standing still midway through the first and second turns.

Cars of Mark Dinsmore, Covington, Ind., Woody Walcher, Grand Junction, Colo., Paul Feldner, Richfield, Wis., and Denny Wilson, Missouri, were retired from the Spartanic clash.

Because the one-mile dirt oval at the Fairgrounds was initially designed for horses to race on, no guardrail on either the inside or outside of the track has ever been constructed.

So every time a car tears a piece of the flimsy cyclone fence down, the welding crew is called and the long patch-up work is done while the race is halted.

Fans were expecting a battle between McCluskey and Jack Bowsher, Springfield, Ohio, to materialize. But Bowsher, who was trailing the first place McCluskey by just 22 points in the USAC stock car division, called it quits in his Ford after completing 34 laps.

Defending Century 100 champ, Don White, qualified for the event, but later blew an engine and was forced to withdraw from the contest.

The day’s top qualifier was Foyt, who posted a time of 39.515 seconds, or a speed of 91.033 miles an hour. There was no official time for the race since it was red-flagged on three different occasions.

Results –

  1. Bobby Unser
  2. Roger McCluskey
  3. A.J. Foyt
  4. Bobby Allison
  5. Butch Hartman
  6. Bay Darnell
  7. Dave Whitcomb
  8. Sal Tovella
  9. Les Snow
  10. Dick Trickle
  11. Bill Moyer
  12. Larry Berwanger

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