Louisville, Ky. (August 12, 1972) – Bobby Watson, his pace slowed to a crawl as he was admittedly on the verge of passing out, coasted under the checkered flag Saturday night at the Fairgrounds Motor Speedway and picked up his third International 500 late model stock car victory.The Automobile Racing Club of America sanctioned event was marred by the death of veteran driver John Stout of Fairborn, Ohio.
Stout’s car spun out of control and careened into the infield on lap 204. According to Fairgrounds’ director Milt Hartlauf, when track workers reached the car, Stout was unconscious with his foot fully depressed on the accelerator.
The car’s engine ran wide open until it disintegrated as the limp Stout, a bar and restaurant owner, and only a part-time race car driver, was lifted from the car. He was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead from an apparent cardiac arrest.
Watson, driving his own 1972 Camaro, seized the lead on lap 164, when Charlie Glotzbach of Edwardsville, Ind., who had led every lap until then, dropped out of the race with a broken head gasket on the engine in his 1972 Chevelle.
Watson lost the advantage only once – when he made his one pit stop on lap 253. Jesse Baird of Louisville – who later would suffer a blown engine in his 1971 Camaro – held the lead for eight circuits before he pitted and handed the lead back to Watson.
The winner of the International 500 in 1964 and 1969, Watson increased his lead on second-place Ron Hutcherson of Keokuk, Iowa, to 10 laps with less than 10 miles to go in the grueling race that saw only 10 of 30 starters running at the finish.
Then with five laps to go, Watson suddenly slowed his already cruise-like pace considerably.
“I got so damn dizzy the last 10 laps,” said Watson, who had to be administered oxygen before climbing from his car several minutes after the race.
“I felt really good with 10 laps to go,” he added after catching his breath. “I don’t know if something got to me or it was the excitement of leading the race. I get so damn excited. I don’t know, maybe the excitement caused me nearly to pass out.”
1. Bobby Watson
2. Ron Hutcherson
3. Dave Kulmer
4. Bill Kimmel
5. Tommy Spaugh
6. Freddy Holbert
7. John Early
8. Willard Googe
9. Walt Ragland