Tuesday, June 21, 2022

1961 – Goldsmith Captures Illiana Feature

Paul Goldsmith (far left) and Ray Nichels (far right) after the pair put together a USAC stock car victory at Illiana Motor Speedway. - Stan Kalwasinski Collection

Schererville, Ind. (June 21, 1961) – Paul Goldsmith, known as a conservative driver in the Memorial Day 500-mile race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but a “charger” in late model stock cars, tore to the front of the 18-car field Wednesday night and captured the 15-mile (30 laps) United States Auto Club stock car race at Illiana Speedway.

The St. Clair Shores, Mich., pilot drove a 1961 Pontiac owned by Ray Nichels Engineering of Highland, Ind., and beat second place finisher Don White of Keokuk, Iowa, to the checkered flag by a quarter of a mile.

Over 3,000 racing fans watched as Les Snow of Bloomington, Ill., narrowly edged Whitey Johnson of Hammond, Ind., for third place. White maneuvered a 1960 Ford, Snow and Johnson 1960 Pontiacs.

Owner Harry Molenaar’s half-mile dirt strip was rated extremely fast and as one USAC official put it, “If you don’t like the kind of show the boys put on tonight, you just don’t like racing.”

The track was so fast that Illiana’s previous record for qualifying, 27.32 seconds, was topped by seven drivers with Goldsmith holding the new record of 26.32 seconds.

White won the 4-lap trophy dash with Bill Cheesbourg following. Snow also won the 8-lap first heat. Elmer Musgrave of Niles, Ill., won the second 8-lap heat and Johnson won the third heat. Ted Hane of Chicago won the 10-lap consolation.

The chief engineer for Goldsmith’s car is Ray Nichels who served as his chief mechanic last year at Indianapolis. Second in command was Dale “Tiny” Worley who was the top pit man for Jim Hurtubise this year at Indianapolis.

The Goldsmith crew had its problems early on in the evening. A tank proved to be filled with water and the car’s gas tank had to be drained and the carburetor had to be torn down and cleaned. Later, a jack slipped while changing a tire, but no one was underneath the car at the time.

Results –

1. Paul Goldsmith, St. Clair Shores, Mich.
2. Don White, Keokuk, Iowa
3. Les Snow, Bloomington, Ill.
4. Whitey Johnson, Hammond, Ind.
5. Norm Nelson, Racine, Wis.
6. Ken Finley, Summit, Ill.
7. Don O’Dell, Palo Heights, Ill.
8. Ted Hane, Chicago
9. Jack Holbrook, Melrose Park, Ill.
10.Skip Michaels, Chicago
11.Don Swenson, Chicago
12.Gordon Gorman, Libertyville, Ill.
13.Dave Lundman, Libertyville, Ill.
14.Dave Whitcomb, Valparaiso, Ind.
15.Bill Shoulders, Waukegan, Ill.
16.Ed Meyer, Glenview, Ill.
17.Elmer Musgrave, Niles, Ill.
18.Bill Cheesbourg, Tucson, Ariz.

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