Friday, May 5, 2023

1963 - Foyt Breezes to Victory at Langhorne

A.J. Foyt won the USAC stock car 150-mile race at the famed Langhorne Speedway. 

Langhorne, Penn. (May 5, 1963) – A.J. Foyt interrupted his preparations for the Indianapolis 500-mile race on Memorial Day to spend Sunday afternoon at Langhorne Speedway.

And what a day it was…

He breezed to victory in the 150-mile late model stock car race, winning in record time and ahead of his nearest competitor by more than two full laps.

A.J., the golden boy of auto racing, who hails from Houston, Tex., completed the 150 laps on Langhorne’s one-mile dirt oval in 1 hour, 41 minutes and 13.47seconds. That was an average speed of 88.911 miles per hour and easily beat the former mark of 85.850 miles per hour (1 hour and 44 minutes) set in April of 1957.

Foyt drove a 1962 Plymouth and he thrilled the 10,000 spectators before the race even began by setting a new standard for one mile during the time trials. A. J. was clocked in 37.466 seconds, an average speed of 96.087 miles per hour. The former mark belonged to Paul Goldsmith, who was timed in 28.42 seconds (93.70 miles per hour) back in 1957.

Foyt led all the way except for about eight laps. On the very first lap, he lost ground to Don White, of Keokuk, Iowa, but A.J. regained the lead and held it from the second through the 51st laps.

On the 52nd mile, Goldsmith, of St. Clair Shores, Mich., momentarily took the lead for one lap, but Foyt “gunned it” and was back in front again. The caution flags were displayed on the 69th lap when a driver took a minor spin and stalled.

Foyt took advantage of the yellow flags to make a pit stop for fuel. Goldsmith was the new leader, but he, too, decided to stop. Bill Cheesbourg, of Tucson, Ariz., took over the lead for three laps, but then engine trouble forced him to retire from the race.

The next leader was White again. But he stayed in front only one lap, then dropped back and finally a few laps later he was out of the race.

Foyt and Goldsmith were one-two again and they stayed that way, separated by only a few seconds, until the 110th lap when mechanical difficulties forced Goldsmith out.

From then on, it was just a question of whether Foyt would experience any trouble. He didn’t and won very handily.

A.J. finished two full laps ahead of runner-up Len Sutton, of Portland, Ore., and six laps in front of his Plymouth teammate Norm Nelson of Racine, Wis. Herb Shannon, of Peoria, Ill., was fourth.

Elmer Musgrave, of Niles, Ill., driving a '63 Mercury, was fifth, and Chuck Stevenson of Newport Beach, Calif., in a '63 Dodge, was sixth.

Three of the first four finishers, (all but Sutton), drove 1963 Plymouths. Sutton piloted a Pontiac as did Goldsmith.

The Pontiacs, Chevrolets and Fords have dominated late model stock car racing in recent years, but Plymouths have been doing very well this season, including back-to-back victories by Foyt now in major races.

Eleven of the 22 starters were still running at the end. Foyt’s victory was worth at least $2,500 to him, 25 percent of the guaranteed $10,000 purse.

Eddie Sachs, now of Detroit, was on hand looking for a car to drive. He racked up his Zecol-Lubaid Ford last week in the Yankee 300, and it just wasn’t ready to go yesterday. But there were no rides to be had.

Results –

1. A.J. Foyt
2. Len Sutton
3. Norm Nelson
4. Herb Shannon
5. Elmer Musgrave
6. Chuck Stevenson
7. Bill Purnier
8. Dominic Persicketti
9. Leo Drollinger
10.Mal Delamaier
11.Paul Goldsmith
12.Jim Locke
13.Dave Lundman
14.Bob Devine
15.Paul Balogach
16.Bill Cheesbourg
17.Don White
18.John Kilborn
19.Curtis Turner
20.Don Schisler

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