Looking Back — May 5, 2011

Rodger Ward and mechanic A.J. Watson chat before the start of a 1961 championship car race at New Jersey's Trenton Speedway (Chris Economaki photo)

Rodger Ward and mechanic A.J. Watson chat before the start of a 1961 championship car race at New Jersey's Trenton Speedway (Chris Economaki photo)

50 Years Ago — May 10, 1961

Fred Lorenzen out fought Curtis Turner to win the Rebel 300 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway Saturday in a death-defying slugfest that decided one of the most exciting stock-car races of all time. “He bumped me 50 times and I bumped him 50 times on the last 39 laps,” Lorenzen said. While Turner promised, “I definitely will retaliate the next time we meet.”

25 Years Ago — May 7, 1986

Joe Shear continued his domination of the ARTGO Challenge Series as he charged from the 12th starting spot to win the ninth annual Spring Classic Sunday at Rockford (Ill.) Speedway. Shear, who also won the ARGTO late model opener two weeks earlier, recorded a rare sweep, setting fast time and then winning his 12-lap heat race before scoring the feature victory.

Chris’s Column — May 4, 1977

“For Kevin Olsen, the 1975 NAMAR national champ and 1976 Badger Midget Auto Racing Ass’n titleholder, 1977 has been a year of good news and bad news. The good news first. On April 23 he and his fair lady, Diane Ratcliffe, were married in Rockford, Ill. Now for the bad news. So far this year Kevin has towed his 2×4 Sesco midget over 10,000 miles since February and grossed exactly $21! Thank goodness for sponsorship.”

Newsmaker — Jerry Cook

Veteran short-track racer Jerry Cook used consistency to claim his sixth NASCAR modified championship during the 1977 season.

Cook managed just three victories in 55 feature starts, but the 38-year-old driver from Rome, N.Y., posted 27 top-five finishes behind the wheel of the Hollebrand Trucking Ford Pinto prepared by George Colwell and Don Brown.

Cook claimed the NASCAR title, his fourth straight, by more than 1,000 points over Geoff Bodine, Wayne Anderson and Bob Park.

“It never entered my mind back in 1968 that I would ever have a chance to win a national championship,” said Cook, referring to the year he switched from hobby stocks to the mighty modifieds. “The sixth championship feels really good.”

Countdown To 100 — 2007 — Dario Franchitti

Dario Franchitti won his first Indianapolis 500 in 2007 as a downpour on lap 166 ended the race after 415 miles. It was a premature end to a spectacular race that was run at a furious pace only to be interrupted twice by rain, including a two-hour, 57-minute red-flag period.

Franchitti, driving for Andretti-Green Racing, became the first Scotsman to win the 500 since Jim Clark in 1965. He led three times for 34 laps, including the final 30 miles.

“The Indy 500 is the pinnacle of my career. It’s massive. It’s awesome,” Franchitti said.

Scott Dixon finished second with former winners Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish, Jr. next under the red and checkered flags.



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Keith Waltz
Keith Waltz has written about auto racing since first joining the SPEED SPORT staff in January 1983. He has worked alongside racing legends Chris Economaki, Darrell Waltrip and H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler during his career.