Monday, May 29, 2023

1962 – Knepper passes Lawicki to win Little 500

Arnie Knepper drove the Pete Mocca Offenhauser to victory in the 1962 Little 500. IMCA's Gene Van Winkle (holding checkered flag) joins Knepper in victory lane.

Anderson, Ind. (May 29, 1962) – Starting in the middle of the front row and remaining among the top five until late in the race when he made his move, Arnie Knepper of Belleville, Ill., drove the Pete Mocca Offy to victory in Tuesday night’s 14th annual Little 500 at Sun Valley Speedway.

A crowd of over 12,000 saw Knepper pass Clare Lawicki, of St. Clair Shores, Mich., on the 481st lap, then pull away to win by a half-lap.

Knepper drove the Pete Mocca Offy and his machine became the second Offenhauser to win in the history of the speed classic here. Knepper succeeds Jim McElreath, of Arlington, Tex., as Little 500 champ.

Race fans elbowed and pushed their way into the stadium to see Vince Edwards, of Dr. Ben Casey TV fame, drive the pace car to start the 33 International Motor Contest Association sprint cars.

Five of the 33 sprint cars failed to make it around the quarter-mile, high-banked oval one lap after receiving the green flag which started the Little 500. Three piled up in the first turn, then two more spun out on the backstretch. However, no one was injured, and the race was re-started.

Johnny While, the 1955 Little 500 winner, set the early pace in Tuesday nights' event at Sun Valley. He boomed his orange Diz Wilson #71 through traffic to build up a sizable lead. Lawicki started closing ground after the half-way point of the race, then took the lead on the 438th lap.

Knepper passed Lawicki on the 481st lap, then managed to pull away by about 220 yards over the final 19 trips around the Sun Valley quarter-mile oval.

His average winning speed was just under 58 miles per hour.

Johnny Rutherford of Fort Worth, Tex., in the pole position Tuesday evening, was included in three and four-car duels throughout the race with Knepper, White and Lawicki.

Results –

1. Arnie Knepper, Belleville, Ill.
2. Clare Lawicki, St. Clair Shores, Mich.
3. Johnny White, Warren, Mich.
4. Russ Long, Yupica, Calif.
5. Johnny Rutherford, Ft. Worth, Tex.
6. Mickey Shaw, Berea, Ohio
7. Dick Gaines, Mitchell, Ind.
8. Harold Lancaster, Louisville, Ky.
9. Red Renner, Woodburn, Ind.
10.Herschel Wagner, Hickman Hills, Mo.
11.Dale Richardson, Kingman, Ind.
12.Jerry Richert, Forest Lake, Minn.
13.Al Fredenberg, Madison, Wis.
14.Dick Kuenstler, Chicago
15.Bob Fiene, Arlington Heights, Ill.
16.Gordon Woolley, Waco, Tex.
17.Pete Folse, Tampa, Fla.
18.Ray Duckworth, Anderson, Ind.
19.Harold Leep, Wichita, Kan.
20.Dave Robinson, Indianapolis

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