Monday, May 1, 2023

1966 – Nelson Repeats as Yankee 300 Winner

Norm Nelson basks in the glory of winning the Yankee 300 at IRP.

Clermont, Ind. (May 1, 1966) – Norm Nelson, planning his strategy as the race went on, captured his second straight Yankee 300 late-model stock car race title at Indianapolis Raceway Park here yesterday, making 160 laps around the torturous seven-turn road course in three hours, 13 minutes and 27 seconds for an average speed of 93.047 miles per hour.

A crowd of 10,167 braved the cool temperatures and wind to see the excitement, and it didn’t have to wait very long before the action started.

Everyone, including starter Johnny Shipman was a bit surprised as the cars took only one parade lap before Chief Stewart Emil Andrews signaled for the green flag.

Three laps later, Herb Shannon blew his engine coming out of the seventh turn onto the main straightaway and his differential locked, throwing the car into a skid. Shannon's 1965 Plymouth angled toward Shipman’s position on die starting line and slammed into the pits, spewing tires, tools and other pit paraphernalia in all directions.

Miraculously, only four people were injured with Bob Guy, one of Paul Goldsmith’s crew members, ending up with a broken ankle. Shipman and two more of Goldsmith’s crew, Pedro Mondez and Rollie Vaust, were bruised but otherwise alright.

Track officials halted the race for 40 minutes after the accident.

The only other serious incident of the day came on the 63rd lap when Jim Hurtubise, chasing Don White for the lead, flipped his car over the guard rail on the second turn alter hitting an oil spot on the track. Hurtubise wasn’t hurt, but his car was badly damaged. The caution light was on for six laps following Hurtubise’s wreck.

Nelson led the race for a total of 48 laps, losing his lead to White once and Billy Foster, the second-place finisher, twice. After pitting on the 71st lap and Foster taking the lead, the two traded the lead at the 101-lap mark and again at 108 laps.

Foster lost his right rear wheel on the 126th lap coming out of the seventh turn while holding a 21-second lead over Nelson, but with a masterful bit of handling his 1965 Dodge, pulled the car right into the pits for a tire change. Nelson took the lead for the last time with Foster in the pits and coasted for the remaining 33 laps.

The race saw a total of five leaders with Don White in his 1966 Dodge Charger pacing the field for the first five laps. Two laps after the Shannon accident, Hurtubise flashed by White on the first turn and led until a blown tire forced the crowd-pleasing “Herk” into the pits.

Paul Goldsmith, who started the race on the pole, moved into the lead on the 35th lap, but failing oil pressure gave Nelson his first lead at the 38-lap mark. Goldsmith finished 17th after running only 43 laps. White regained the lead on the 46th lap, but also retired rather than ruin his engine when the oil pressure dropped.

Foster then took the lead, held it for two laps, and gave it up to Nelson as the two started a duel that lasted until Foster’s blown tire.

Nelson pocketed $4,838 of the $22,225 purse and Foster took $3,003 home.

Bay Darnell finished third in a 1966 Plymouth, followed by J. C. Klotz, ‘66 Plymouth, Jerry Norris in a ‘64 Ford, Bobby Wawak in a ‘64 Mercury, Dave Whitcomb in a ’64 Plymouth, Garry Bettenhausen in a ‘66 Dodge and Don Hill, the only other driver still running at the finish, in a ’64 Mercury.

Results –

1. Norm Nelson
2. Billy Foster
3. Bay Darnell
4. J.C. Klotz
5. Jerry Norris
6. Bobby Wawak
7. Dave Whitcomb
8. Gary Bettenhausen
9. Don Hill
10.Elmer Davis
11.Sal Tovella
12.John Martin
13.Jim Tatum
14.Don White
15.Jim Hurtubise
16.Mac Vails
17.Paul Goldsmith
18.Bill Moore
19.Eddie Meyer
20.Joe Burkhart
21.Jim Welty
22.Rabon Hinkle
23.Hank Teeters
24.Herb Shannon
25.Roger Regeth

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