Wednesday, October 25, 2023

1953 -12,000 See Bryan Get Checkered Flag

Jimmy Bryan (second from left) is joined by promoter J.C. Agajanian (left), Ralph DePalma (second from right), and Troy Ruttman (right) after winning the 100-mile race at Sacramento.

Sacramento, Calif. (October 25, 1953) – Jimmy Bryan of Phoenix won the 100-mile auto race before 12,000 spectators at the California State Fairgrounds after a spectacular early crash slowed down the speed pilots.

The time for Sunday afternoon’s event was 1 hour, 15 minutes, and 12.05 seconds, considerably slower than the 1949 and 1950 races here.

Don Olds of Tacoma, Wash., took the south turn of the 13th lap too sharp, spun out, and stalled in the center of the track. Mike Nazaruk of New York, plowed into Olds’ car first and Johnny Parsons of Van Nuys, Calif., winner of the Indianapolis 500, piled up next.

The cars were too damaged to continue and were carted off. Miraculously, all three drivers escaped injury. The yellow light was on for 10 laps, slowing the speed.

Nazaruk, who won the pole position with the fastest qualifying time of 38.32 seconds for the one-mile lap, was ahead at the time of the accident. The mishap gave Bryan the chance to pull to the front. He led Jack McGrath of South Pasadena by a quarter mile with Bob Sweikert of Hayward third.

On the 33rd lap, McGrath took over as pacesetter. But McGrath, who was runner-up to Sam Hanks for the 1953 national championship, developed throttle problems on the 70th circuit. He was in the pits for 12 laps and Bryan took over once again and held his advantage until he received the checkered flag.

At the halfway mark it was McGrath, Bryan, Sweikert, Hanks, and Jerry Hoyt in the top five. At the 75-mile mark, it was Bryan, Sweikert, Hanks, Jimmy Davies, and Hoyt.

At the finish, Bryan led Sweikert by more than a mile and a quarter with Hanks not far behind.

A disappointment to the crowd was the failure of Bill Vukovich of Fresno, this years Indianapolis 500 winner, to qualify. His time of 42.64 seconds was the second slowest time of the day. Andy Linden of Long Beach was the slowest at 42.85 seconds.

Vukovich complained of handling issues, saying the front end bounced in the turns.

With his third-place finish, Hanks clinched the AAA national championship with 1,519 points. McGrath, who finished runner-up in points, had no chance to claim the title, even if he had won the race.

The victorious Bryan, jubilant over his win, was greeted at the finish line by his pretty red-headed wife who bestowed three kisses on his cheek.

“I’m awfully glad to win but I’m awfully tired,” Bryan remarked. “I like this track. It was rough but I’ve driven on tracks a lot rougher than this.”

Results –

1. Jimmy Bryan
2. Bob Sweikert
3. Sam Hanks
4. Jimmy Davies
5. Bob Scott
6. Paul Russo
7. Jimmy Reece
8. Jerry Hoyt
9. Chuck Stevenson
10.Jack McGrath

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