Dick Ritchie accepts his trophy from Miss Alabama Peggy Ryan as car owner Leon Mensing and National speedway’s Al Sweeney look on with approval.
Birmingham, Ala. (October 5, 1963) – Thirteen was an unlucky number for an Indianapolis pilot who piled into the guardrail at the Alabama State Fairgrounds racetrack on Saturday afternoon.Bill Hunter, one of 13 drivers in the feature event, slammed into two other cars before ramming his Studebaker-powered midget head on into the guardrail.
His left leg pinned between the motor and frame; Hunter was wedged in the car for about 15 minute before he was rushed to an area hospital.
A few minutes later, Dick Ritchie of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, roared across the finish line to win the International Grand Prix and cinch the International Motor Contest Association title for the compact sprint division.
Ritchie beat Willard Yates, also of Cedar Rapids, in a nip and tuck contest which saw only two cars eliminated.
Winning the feature event stacked up a total of 1,460 points for Ritchie, shoving him ahead of Howard House of Kanas City, Mo., who tallied 1,226 points toward the championship title. House crossed the finish line in fourth.
The two-man battle between Ritchie and House is the closest championship race in the history of IMCA racing.
The spectacular crash which took Hunter out of the race occurred early in the feature when Jim McVay of Wichita, Kan., skidded out of control on the south turn and slammed into Danny Frye of St. Louis, Mo.
Unable to avoid the pileup, Hunter hit both McVay and Frye, bounced into the air, slammed into the guardrail, skidded about 50 feet and then rammed head-on into the guardrail post.
Al Sweeney, president of National Speedway’s, estimated Hunter’s speed was approximately 70 to 80 miles per hour. Hunter was treated for minor leg injuries and released.
1. Dick Ritchie, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
2. Willard Yates, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
3. Carl Williams, Kansas City, Mo.
4. Howard House, Kansas City, Mo.
5. Sonny McDaniel, Houston, Tex.
6. George Smith, Kansas City, Mo.
7. Bill Burdick, Omaha, Neb.
8. Danny Frye, St. Louis, Mo.
9. Wayne Woodward, Fort Worth, Tex.
10.Frank Pfall, Jefferson City, Mo.