Looking Back — April 21, 2011

Bob Kinser watches the action during the 1973 Knoxville Nationals. (Chris Economaki photo)

Bob Kinser watches the action during the 1973 Knoxville Nationals. (Chris Economaki photo)

50 Years Ago — April 26, 1961

Work has been completed on the installation of 1,000 additional feet of reinforced concrete retaining wall at Daytona Int’l Speedway. The new span links the existing sections along the north side of the track and extends well into the fourth turn, replacing the steel guardrail that was penetrated by Lee Petty and Johnny Beauchamp during a Feb. 24 qualifying race.

25 Years Ago — April 23, 1986

Roger Penske, one of the most successful car and track owners in American auto racing, plans to transform the shuttered Nazareth National Motor Speedway into “the finest one-mile track in the U.S.” Pennsylvania Int’l Raceway, a newly formed Penske corporation, is buying the 90.6-acre facility in Nazareth, Pa., from the Bank of Pennsylvania with plans to pave the existing track.

Chris’s Column — April 16, 1975

“Heidelberg Raceway has had it, once and for all. Half of the Pittsburgh suburb site was bought for $1.15 million with the other half sold to a Cleveland party some while back. Owner Ed Witzberger, who added a 17-acre parcel to the speedway site in 1965 for $75,000, sold this specific parcel for $900,000. The stands, guardrails, lights and other racing impedimenta have been sold for $100,000 to Nick Garin who is building a track in nearby Imperial, Pa.”

Newsmaker — Jimmy Caruthers

Jimmy Caruthers never had the opportunity to properly accept his trophy for winning the 1975 USAC Dirt Championship as the 30-year-old racer lost his battle with cancer on Oct. 26, just seven weeks after earning his second USAC title.

Caruthers, the 1970 USAC midget champion from Tustin, Calif., finished third in the Sept. 6 Hoosier Hundred at the Indiana State Fairgrounds to claim the Dirt Championship title by 60 points over Tom Bigelow.

Caruthers had returned to racing in 1975 after spending two months on his back taking treatments for a cancerous tumor around the aorta of his heart. The tumor returned, however, and complications resulting from the chemotherapy eventually took his life.

Countdown To 100 — 2005 – Dan Wheldon

Dan Wheldon passed Danica Patrick with seven laps remaining and gave team owner Michael Andretti his first Indianapolis 500 victory in the 89th running of the world’s most famous race.

Patrick nearly became the first female to win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but she was forced to conserve fuel during the closing laps and couldn’t match the speed of the driver from Emberton, England.

Vitor Meira finished second with Bryan Herta third. Patrick ended up fourth as the race finished under caution after Sebastien Bourdais crashed with two laps remaining.

“It’s just so unbelievable,” Andretti said. “It’s incredible, such a great feeling. It feels as good as if I won it myself.”