Milwaukee, Wis. (August 20, 1961) – Lloyd Ruby of Wichita Falls, Tex., set a new record of 101.073 miles per hour Sunday for the 200-mile distance in winning his first USAC national championship race. The 32-year-old Ruby drove a red and white John Zink Special.Ruby nipped Len Sutton of Portland, Ore., by six seconds in a thrilling, wheel-to-wheel duel which lasted throughout the Tony Bettenhausen Memorial event at Wisconsin State Fair Park.
Just as Ruby was approaching the finish line on his final lap to take the checkered flag, cars driven by Eddie Sachs of Allentown, Penn., and Jim Hurtubise of Lennox, Calif., tangled coming out of the north turn. Both machines hit the outside retaining wall but neither driver was injured.
Hurtubise had led most of the race but was forced to stop for fuel at the 175-mile mark.
Ruby and Sutton, who switched positions eight different times, ran non-stop with the winner finishing in 1 hour, 58 minutes, and 3.9 seconds.
The purse was $40,825, which was a new record for the track. Ruby’s share was nearly $11,000.
A.J. Foyt of Houston, Tex., winner of the Indianapolis 500 in May, increased his lead in the championship point standings by finishing third, more than a lap behind Ruby.
Dick Rathman of Roselle, Ill., was fourth and Eddie Sachs of Center Valley, Penn., finished fifth. Sachs remains in second place in the national championship standings behind Foyt.
There were five different leaders in the exciting event. Starting from the outside of the front row, Parnelli Jones of Torrance, Calif., took the lead going into the first turn from polesitter Don Branson of Champaign, Ill., the day’s fast qualifier at 105.615 miles per hour.
Rodger Ward of speedway, Ind., moved around Jones on the backstretch during the 19th mile to take the lead. When Ward had to stop for a new right rear tire after running only 35 miles, Hurtubise took command.
The Californian, who holds the one- lap record of 149.601 miles per hour at Indianapolis, increased his lead to 20 seconds by the 140-mile mark. At that point, runner-up Sutton and third-place Ruby were the only other drivers on the same lap.
Hurtubise’s fuel stop only last 11 seconds but it would cost him five positions. After leaving the pits, he spun on the backstretch but recovered quickly enough to continue without losing additional positions.
Sutton took over the lead on lap 176 and 177 but Ruby passed him on lap 178 to take over for good. Sutton was running low on fuel and was unable to offer another challenge to Ruby.
Ruby built his advantage to five seconds at the 190-mile mark, and it never fell below four seconds the rest of the way.
1. Lloyd Ruby, Wichita Falls, Tex.
2. Len Sutton, Portland, Ore.
3. A.J. Foyt, Houston, Tex.
4. Dick Rathmann, Roselle, Ill.
5. Eddie Sachs, Center Valley, Penn.
6. A.J. Shepherd, Wichita, Kan.
7. Jim Hurtubise, Lennox, Calif.
8. Johnny Boyd, Fresno, Calif.
9. Bob Christie, Grants Pass, Ore.
10.Shorty Templeman, Indianapolis
11.Ronnie Duman, Dearborn, Mich.
12.Al Keller, Greenacres, Fla.