Sunday, August 20, 2023

1977 - Watson's Identity Known After Redbud 300 Win


Dave Watson

Anderson, Ind. (August 20, 1977) – Before and after he won USAC’s recent Miller 200 stock car race at the Wisconsin State Fair Speedway in Milwaukee, race fans were asking, “Whose Dave Watson?”

And before he started the American Speed Association’s 11th annual Redbud 300 late model feature at Anderson Speedway, many more fans asked, “Whose Dave Watson?”

Well, they all know now…

The learning process started when the Milton, Wis., driver established a new one-lap record during time trials.

And the introduction was completed when ASA’s current point leader put his Camaro across the finish line at the checkered with a five-second advantage over defending ASA driving champion Mike Eddy of Kawkawlin, Mich.

Joe Shear, well-known national short track star from South Beloit, Ill., and one of two drivers besides Watson to lead the feature, wound up third.

Shear was nine seconds behind Eddy in the end but on the same lap with the first two finishers s thee top three drivers all completed 300 trips around the high-banked, half-mile asphalt oval.

Finishing fourth, two laps down at the checkered, was Ray Young of Dolton, Ill., and Mark Martin, the sensational 18-year-old driving star from Batesville, Ark., was fifth, five laps behind Watson.

The first hint of things to come came when defending Redbud champion Jerry Makara sent his Camaro around the track one time in 12.949 seconds during time trials to erase the old record of 12.973 seconds set by Dave Roahrig last year.

Makara’s mark didn’t last long, though, as Shear came out and lowered it to 12.809 seconds.

Then with qualifications just about over, Watson went on the track and whipped it around in the time of 12.715 seconds, an average of 70.783 miles per hour to wind up with the record and pole position in the 26-car field.

When starter Bill Robbins dropped the green flag on the field, Watson beat Shear to the first turn, took the lead, and held it for 37 times around the oval.

Shear, who had been riding Watson’s rear bumper all that distance, forged in front before they hit the start/finish line on the 38th go-round but Watson was back out in front on lap 39. He led only that lap, however, as Shear went back on top on lap 40 and stayed there until lap 81.

By that time, eight of the original 26 starters were on the sidelines and the yellow had been out of a total of 22 laps from 53 to 74 when Tom Alexander of New Castle lost control and crashed into the west wall.

Watson regained the lead on lap 82 from Shear and Bob Senneker of Dorr, Mich., sent his Camaro around shear on the next lap to take over second, with Makara running fourth.

Makara passed both Shear and Senneker on lap 88 and with the race one-third completed, it was Watson, Makara, Senneker, Shear, and Eddy.

Bruce Gould of Milford, Ohio, blew an engine on lap 130, hit the wall, and as the yellow came out, Watson, Senneker, Shear, and Eddy all ducked into the pits for a mandatory stop and Makara inherited the lead.

He led only once around, however, as he pitted after 131 laps and Watson, who beat the other drivers back out of the pits, jumped back in front.

It wasn’t known at the time, but the Badger State chauffeur was to lead the rest of the way as he picked up $1,775 for his victory, from a $11,500 purse.

Watson’s efforts were made somewhat easier when Senneker dropped from the chase on lap 147 when his brakes failed on his machine, but 15 cars were still on the track and running when Watson took the checkered after completing the 75-mile run in 1 hour, 29 minutes and 21.37 seconds.

Results –

1. Dave Watson, Milton, Wis.
2. Mike Eddy, Kawkawlin, Mich.
3. Joe Shear, South Beloit, Ill.
4. Ray Young, Dolton, Ill.
5. Mark Martin, Batesville, Ark.
6. Jerry Makara, Pinckney, Mich.
7. Ellis Herbert, Rushville
8. Lonnie Breedlove, Indianapolis
9. Glenn Ohlmann, Louisville, Ky.
10.Dave Roahrig, Inwood
11.Lennie Waldo, Columbus, Ohio
12.Gene Christie, Gaston
13.Dennis Miles, Muncie
14.Mickey Flora, Anderson
15.James Cox, Louisville, Ky.
16.Bob Blount, LaPaz
17.Bob Senneker, Dorr, Mich.
18.Bruce Gould, Milford, Ohio
19.Robin Schildknecht, Louisville, Ky.
20.Tom Alexander, New Castle
21.Ray Fullen, Anderson
22.Gail Duncan, New Castle
23.Jack Shanklin, Indianapolis
24.Dick Dunlevy, New Carlisle, Ohio
25.Vic Hellis, Muncie
26.Harold Scott, New Castle

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