Sunday, July 16, 2023

1965 – Rutherford Cops Reading Race

Johnny Rutherford pushed Wally Meskowski's sprint car to victory lane at Reading. 

Reading, Penn. (July 16, 1965) – Johnny Rutherford, in the car which twice had failed A.J. Foyt here, turned in an impressive victory in the 30-lap United States Auto Club sprint car feature before 6,000 fans at the Reading Fairgrounds.

Rutherford pushed the Wally Meskowski mount into the lead on lap 11 and never surrendered the top spot after that. But for the final 10 laps, the fastest moving object on the track was local favorite Red Riegel of Leesport, Penn., who managed to pass Roger McCluskey for the runner-up spot in the last 50 yards.

Foyt, who switched to the car that Rutherford had driven last month, finished fourth. He was never higher than third.

Bobby Unser of Albuquerque, N.M., who started on the pole after posting the night’s fastest qualifying run at 23.82 seconds, led for the first 10 laps, but couldn’t keep up the pace and finished fifth, just ahead of Jud Larson of Indianapolis.

Rutherford started fourth and was in second place by lap 2. He remained in second-place until passed Unser on the outside of the backstretch on the 11th lap.

Rutherford turned the 30 laps in 12 minutes and 28 seconds with the caution flag out early in the race when Dempsey Wilson on Hawthorne, Calif., lost a wheel between the first and second turns.

Riegel, who won the last sprint car race on June 19, might have turned in a repeat performance had he not waited so long to get rolling. For the first 20 laps he fluctuated between fourth and fifth place. But in the last third of the race he was a real crowd pleaser.

He passed Unser on lap 22, picked up Foyt on lap 26 and finally caught McCluskey on at the wire.

Results - 

1. Johnny Rutherford
2. Red Riegel
3. Roger McCluskey
4. A.J. Foyt
5. Bobby Unser
6. Jud Larson
7. Chuck Arnold
8. Mario Andretti
9. Wally Dallenbach
10.Dave Lundy
11.Al Smith
12.Greg Weld
13.Bob Harkey
14.Dempsey Wilson
15.Ronnie Duman

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