West Allis, Wis. (July 8, 1973) - Neither 90-degree-plus heat nor brake failure could stop Butch Hartman, the so-called “cheese champion’ who scored one of his infrequent victories in Sunday’s Miller 200 mile late-model stock car race.
Hartman, who won the United States Auto Club stock car point title last year without winning a race, took the lead Sunday with 29 miles left on the one-mile State Fair Park oval. He held it the rest of the way, averaging 90.314 miles per hour in his Dodge Charger, and earned $10,165.
Don White of Keokuk, Iowa, led from the 79th to the 130th lap before taking a pit stop. He regained the lead on lap 132 and held it until his Charger blew an engine and hit a wall on lap 165.
That gave the lead to Roger McCluskey of Tucson, Ariz. But he had to stop because of a flat tire on lap 171. Hartman grabbed the lead at that point and breezed to victory despite having no brakes.
“My brakes started going after the first 50 miles and for the last 100 miles, I didn’t have any brakes at all,” the South Zanesville, Ohio, veteran said.
“But the car handled so well that I could still go deep in the corners, turning the wheels to slide around,” Hartman said. “I told my crew it was a hard way to do it, but the way the car handled I should leave the brakes off next time."
The race was slowed by several yellow lights. Driver Johnny Rutherford was overcome by the heat and high humidity, but Hartman said it didn’t bother him.
McCluskey finished second in a Plymouth Roadrunner, while H. B. Bailey of Houston was third in a Pontiac Firebird. Ramo Stott, Keokuk, Iowa, was fourth in a Dodge Charger and Jack Bowsher of Springfield, Ohio, fifth in a Ford Torino.
Bowsher had the pole position after having qualified Saturday at 106.509 miles per hour.
Hartman, whose victory here was in first in several tries the past five years, said the “cheese champion” reputation irritates him at times.
“People don't realize I’m finishing well and getting the points,” he said. “I’d rather have eight seconds than only one first. I’ve led a lot here but never won because something happened.”
The most serious of six accidents occurred when the car of Bob Brevak, Ashland, Wis., caught fire in the pits.
Crewmen Paul Goeppert of Racine and Bill Wood of Milwaukee were released after treatment at Milwaukee Count General Hospital for second-degree burns to arms and legs.
1. Butch Hartman
2. Roger McCluskey
3. H.B. Bailey
4. Ramo Stott
5. Jack Bowsher
6. Norm Nelson
7. Irv Janey
8. Paul Feldner
9. Larry Moore