Tuesday, June 27, 2023

1965 – Rookie Weld Takes Raceway Century

Kansas City’s Greg Weld stands in victory lane after winning the 100-lap USAC sprint car race at Indianapolis Raceway Park. – Bruce Craig Collection 

Indianapolis, Ind. (June 27, 1965) – United States Auto Club rookie Greg Weld won the Raceway Century at Indianapolis Raceway Park Sunday afternoon with an average speed of 85.870 miles per hour for the 100-lap sprint car contest.

Making his first appearance at IRP, the 21-year-old speedster from Kansas City hauled down $1,482 from a total purse of $7,500 for his 43 minute and 34.94 second ride.

He took over the top spot on lap 29 when race leader Arnie Knepper pulled into the pits. Weld was followed by another Kansas Citian, Carl Williams, and Roger McCluskey of Tucson, Ariz., with both drivers almost a lap behind.

Weld, who qualified for the outside of the second row, was never farther back than fifth, and had moved to second by lap 8. He rode about six-car-lengths behind Knepper until the Belleville, Ill., driver was forced to the pit area.

Weld, the Missouri chauffeur who is campaigning on the USAC circuits after honing his skill on the IMCA trail, had a serious challenger in Mario Andretti but the Nazareth, Penn., driver couldn’t quite find the power in his mount to get past Weld.

Andretti started on the pole position by virtue of fast qualifier Don Branson eliminating himself in the trophy dash. Branson, who set a new one-lap record of 93.206 miles per hour, was running fourth in the four-car dash, when he slid into the wall, putting his car out of further contention. The event was won by McCluskey.

Andretti took the lead from the pole position but lost it to Knepper on the next lap. He rode in second until the 89th lap despite clouds of smoke billowing from his engine the entire distance, only to come to a stop on the backstretch, out of fuel.

This set up the finishing positions by moving Williams and McCluskey into the second and third spots.

Weld said, “I was hoping we would work well today. We set what we thought was the right combination yesterday, and hoped it was the answer today”

The 100-lappr was free of any serious accidents, although brushes with the wall brought the 5,400 spectators out of their seats at times.

Ronnie Duman attempted to move up to fourth early in the race and got the tail of his car into the concrete. Gordon Johncock spun on lap 55 when he was also in the fourth position.

Pre-race favorite Johnny Rutherford eliminated himself from contention when he banged into the north wall on the first lap of his qualification run.

Another favorite, A.J. Foyt, developed engine trouble during his qualifying run. He would drop out on the 10th lap and be credited with 22nd place.

Results –

1. Greg Weld
2. Carl Williams
3. Roger McCluskey
4. Al Smith
5. Bruce Jacobi
6. Bobby Unser
7. Red Riegel
8. Bob Pratt
9. Arnie Knepper
10.Bobby Black
11.Sam Sessions
12.Mario Andretti
13.Dee Jones
14.Chuck Booth
15.Gordon Johncock
16.Jud Larson
17.Johnny Logan
18.Ronnie Duman
19.Bob Mathouser
20.Bud Randall
21.Jerry Daniels
22.A.J. Foyt

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