50 Years Ago – August 3, 1960
Athol Graham, 36, was killed Monday when his hand-built car skidded and flipped while attempting to break the land speed record at Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats. Graham was traveling in excess of 300 mph when the rear drive wheels broke loose from the salt under acceleration from the car’s 3,000-horsepower airplane engine.
25 Years Ago – August 7, 1985
Dean Thompson recorded his 97th California Racing Ass’n victory Saturday night when he won the 30-lap feature at Ascot Park in Gardena, Calif. Thompson started from the pole in Bruce Bromme’s Gambler sprint car and was never seriously challenged. He was 40 yards ahead of Jeff Heywood at the checkered flag.
Countdown To 100
Justin Wilson and Alex Tagliani each posted their first top-10 finishes in the Indianapolis 500 earlier this year.
In 94 Indianapolis 500s, there have been 375 different drivers to finish in the top 10 positions and an unbelievable 266 of those pilots have done it only once.
Four-time winner A.J. Foyt tops the list with 16 finishes in the first 10. He is a single top 10 ahead of fellow four-time winner Al Unser, who owns 15 top-10 finishes in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Mario Andretti, who won in 1969, and two-time winner Gordon Johncock each have 11 top-10 finishes. Three-time winner Bobby Unser and his nephew, two-time winner Al Unser, Jr., each have 10 top 10s. Helio Castroneves is the active leader with nine top 10s.
Newsmaker – Bob Bahre
New Hampshire businessman Bob Bahre built this country’s newest superspeedway on top of the Old Bryar Motorsports Park in Loudon, N.H., and the 1.058-mile oval opened on July 13, 1990.
Of the plethora of new superspeedways announced during the late 1980s — in New Mexico, Illinois, New Jersey and Texas, to name a few — Bahre’s was the only one to hear the roar of racing engines.
The cost of New Hampshire Int’l Speedway was estimated to be between $10 million and $12 million, and it was built without a penny of taxpayer money.
NASCAR’s Busch Grand National Series was the featured attraction on opening weekend and veteran Tommy Ellis claimed the victory in a crash-filled race.
Chris’s Column – July 25, 1990
“Way back in 1939 we put on a helmet for a midget race in Ashley, Pa., at a used car lot called McCormick’s Park. We still have the entry blank — prize money for the night totaled a big $350. The race was promoted by one George Perluke who, we’re sorry to say, died a few weeks ago. George’s Berwick Beach Haven Speedway near Bloomsburg, Pa., which never really got off the ground, is now idle and overgrown with weeds.”