Wednesday, May 28, 2014

1977 - Jeff Bloom Wins Second Little 500

Anderson, Ind. (May 28, 1977) – Jeff Bloom, charging from a second row position, took the lead on the 392nd lap and stayed there to record his second victory in the “Little 500” sprint car classic Saturday night at Anderson Speedway.

The Kalamazoo, Mich., driver had moved into second place by the end of the first 100 laps and never was below second at 100-lap intervals thereafter. He led from the 210th lap until the 234th when he blew a tire in a minor collision before regaining the lead later in the race.

Bloom was the benefactor of a yellow light late in the race, although his closest challenger, Robert Smith of Gibsonton, Fla., who had started on the pole, actually gained on him during the yellow.

Bloom’s time of two hours, four minutes and 21.407 seconds was a new track record on the newly-named oval, formerly known as Sun Valley Speedway. Smith finished 10 seconds back and Dave Scarborough of Largo, Fla., was third. Fourteen of the 33 cars were still running at the end of the race.

Bloom had taken a 10-second lead by the 450th lap and increased his lead to 13 seconds, or almost one full lap, by the 481st when the yellow came on for Bob Seelman of Lansing, Mich., who hit the outside rail on the first turn.
Smith charged into the early lead and held it for the first 40 laps. Then Rick Ferkel of Findlay, Ohio, went high on the front stretch to take the lead from Smith, holding it until the 80th lap when Smith regained the advantage. Ferkel again went ahead on the 92nd lap, holding it until the 210th lap when he made a pit stop and Bloom went into the lead.

Ferkel continued in the lead until the 210th lap when Bloom passed him on a pit stop. Bloom, the 1972 winner, built up a seven-lap lead but lost five laps on a pit stop in the 233rd lap. Bloom managed to hold onto his lead, though, until lap 291 when he bumped Ron Semelka of Wauseon, Ohio, on the homestretch. Blowing his right rear tire, be was forced to pit for five laps and Smith moved back into first place.

Smith built up a nine-lap lead by the 376th lap after Bloom had lost five more laps on a pit stop two laps earlier. Then on the 392nd lap Smith pitted and stalled on reentry, having to be re-pushed by his pit truck. In the process he lost his entire nine-lap lead and Bloom went ahead for keeps.
There were few accidents in the early going, making for a clean race. On the 23rd lap Bud Frazier of Chillicothe, Ohio, spun going into the first turn but ducked into the infield and stopped before reaching the second turn, avoiding traffic.

On the 52nd lap there was a six-car pileup as Bob Seelman of Lansing, Mich., went sideways going into the second turn. Involved in the pileup were Richard Jackson of Evansville, Charlie Wilmot of Middletown, Ohio, Bobby Allen of Hanover, Pa., Dick Gaines of Floyds Knob and Galen Short of West Unity, Ohio. Wilmot and Allen’s cars were stuck together and Allen was unable to continue when the cars were freed.

The yellow light came on in the 133rd lap when Bill Davis of Battle Creek, Mich., spun on the second turn. Eight laps later the green light returned, but on lap 143 Lennie Waldo of Columbus, Ohio, spun in the fourth turn and was hit by Short and by Indianapolis 500 veteran Sammy Sessions of Middleville, Mich. Sessions limped on until the 160th lap before being forced out of the race.

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