50 Years Ago – March 22, 1961
In a fitting climax to an action-packed season, Len Duncan edged Jim Lacy by inches Saturday night to win the 100-lap TQ midget feature at the National Guard Armory in Teaneck, N.J. Even though he had to settle for second-place money in the century grind, Lacy’s effort was enough to capture the American Three-Quarter Midget Racing Ass’n’s indoor championship.
25 Years Ago – March 16, 1986
Driving a former Cale Yarborough Monte Carlo wrenched by an all-female pit crew, Bill Venturini scored his first career superspeedway victory Saturday in the Dixie 300 ARCA Permatex Supercar Series race at Atlanta Int’l Raceway. Venturini took the lead for the final time with 14 laps remaining in the 198-lap race and beat David Sosebee to the checkered flag by one second.
Countdown To 100 – 2000 – Juan Pablo Montoya
Juan Pablo Montoya made it look easy — too easy in fact — as the defending CART series champion blew away the Indy Racing Northern Lights Series competition to win the 84th Indianapolis 500.
Montoya, who led 167 of the 200 laps, won by 7.189 seconds over 1996 winner Buddy Lazier. The Colombian became the first rookie to win the Indianapolis 500 since Graham Hill in 1966.
He also gave CART bragging rights as the first CART driver to win at Indy since the CART-IRL split in 1996.
“He’s the greatest race driver in the world and now he is the most famous,” said Montoya’s team owner, Chip Ganassi.
Newsmaker – Jim Hall
Even though it failed to finish three of the four SCCA Canadian-American Challenge Cup events in which it competed, Jim Hall’s innovative Chaparral 2J sports car was among the top news stories of the 1970 season.
Resembling a box-like vacuum cleaner, the radical racer included a 45-horsepower snowmobile engine that drove two 17-inch fans. The fans generated downforce by sucking air from under the car while articulated plastic skirts, located around the car’s bottom perimeter, maintained the vacuum. The skirts scraped the track surface, moving up and down with the car’s suspension.
But a ruling in December by the sporting arm of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile outlawed the Chaparral 2J in its original configuration.
Chris’s Column – April 14, 1971
“The national drag racing scene is beginning to get complicated. For years NHRA was the dominant force (not that it still isn’t), then AHRA arrived on the scene. Late last year IHRA blossomed and is off to a good start. Now comes the news the United Hot Rod Ass’n has been formed with New York’s National Speedway as its home base. Intent is to promote — rather than sanction — drag events on a nationwide basis.”