Thursday, June 6, 2024

1965 - Parnelli Jones Wins Rex Mays Memorial

Parnelli Jones

By Dick Ralstin – Times Racing Correspondent

West Allis, Wis. (June 6, 1965) - Parnelli Jones should buy the racetrack here at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds.

Of the last six auto races - stock and championship - that have been held here, Mr. Jones has come in a winner. Yesterday's Rex Mays Memorial 100 was a fairly easy victory for Jones after the first 30 laps. Until that time A.J. Foyt had been the boss man.

Foyt and Jones furnished the crowd with its quota of excitement for the early laps. It made one remember last year's race when Rodger Ward, Foyt, and Jim Hurtubise put on one of the greatest exhibitions of racing as you will ever see.

It seemed to this observer that Foyt had the better of the race at the start. But the old bug-a-boo, tire trouble, stopped him short. I thought for a while this was going to be the dream race I have been waiting for when these two finished a race without trouble.

But when Foyt had to sop on the 30th lap to replace the right rear tire, that was the race.

A.J. came out of the pits charging (like Grant took that fellow named Richmond) but Parnelli had picked up a lap that Foyt couldn’t gain on. Foyt pushed his racer a little past the limit and on the 56th lap the rear end let loose and that was it for the day.

So far this year, there have been four championship races. Foyt has set on the pole on every one of them. He has also led each of them, at one time or another. But he has been eliminated from each of them by gear failure in the rear end. I imagine the “Terrible Texan” is starting to see broken gears in his dreams.

After Foyt parked his car, Parnelli coasted to an easy win. . . seven seconds over ex-motorcycle champion Joe Leonard. Leonard was followed across the finish line by Jim McElreath, in third, Mario Andretti, fourth and Mickey Rupp, fifth.

The rest of the top-10 (in order) were Rodger McCluskey, Gordon Johncock, Bobby Grimm, Ronnie Duman, and Norm Hall.

Rodger Ward qualified to start the race in 18th place in a 22-car field. But Rodger's luck continued to be all bad. When his crew started his engine for the beginning of the race, an oil line let loose. Ward finished in 22nd place when he couldn't leave the starting line.

Hurtubise made his return to Milwaukee, but it was something less than successful. Hurtubise earlier demolished his new rear-engine Ford car, then he bought the #88 Vita Juice roadster for the rest of the championship races. During practice yesterday, Hurtubise was turning in good times. But when it came to qualify, his engine became sour and Jim wound up starting the 20-lap consolation race trying to make the feature.

Charging - as always – “Herk” was about to pass Al Miller for the lead when his brakes failed. He nudged Miller in the rear end and both of them spun into the wall in the third turn. Neither driver was injured, but both cars were through for the day.

Ward and Hurtubise seem to be having a contest for the “Hard Luck Driver of the Year” award. Right now, it's a close contest.

One thing must be said for the "shoestring" racing team. This is the name I have given to Nick Fulbright and Harry Lane from Niles, Mich. His car was running like a dream and driver Bill Cheesbourg was as happy as a kid with a new toy. But Bill had a little trouble qualifying. . . he spun in his first attempt.

On his second attempt he was over cautious and had to run in the consolation race. This didn't prove to be too bad. His second-place finish gave him the 21st starting place for the feature race.

On the fourth lap of the feature, however, the “Joy of Nilesville” was overflowing. Cheesbourg had the little white car in 10th place.

Then Bill lost his brakes.

Rather than give up, Cheesbourg slowed his pace and held on for dear life. Bill finished the race in 12th place. Harry Lane’s last words to me were, “For heaven’s sake, please tell them that we at least finished the race.”

Finish they did and I say more power to them.

Parnelli Jones set a new record for 50 miles at 105.730 miles per hour. His 100-mile speed of 101.78 was not a track record. But for his work, he won a purse of about $12,000. This isn't bad for a Sunday afternoon at Milwaukee, before a crowd of about 40,000.

Results –

1. Parnelli Jones
2. Joe Leonard
3. Jim McElreath
4. Mario Andretti
5. Mickey Rupp
6. Roger McCluskey
7. Gordon Johncock
8. Bobby Grim
9. Ronnie Duman
10.Norm Hall
11.Bob Mathouser
12.Bill Cheesbourg
13.Al Unser
14.Arnie Knepper
15.Johnny Rutherford
16.A.J. Foyt
17.Bobby Unser
18.Bud Tingelstad
19.Lloyd Ruby
20.Don Branson
21.Len Sutton
22.Rodger Ward

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