50 Years Ago – August 10, 1960
Police from 10 communities were called to New Jersey’s Wall Stadium Saturday night to disperse a screaming, shoving mob of 400 customers after the stock-car races were abruptly canceled. A purse dispute between drivers and management caused the cancellation and the group gathered outside the stadium office demanding refunds.
25 Years Ago – August 14, 1985
Dr. Alan Blum wrote in the July issue of the New York State Journal of Medicine that auto racing should be banned from television because advertisements on cars and drivers’ uniforms “flaunt” the law that keeps cigarette ads off of TV. He called on federal officials to “review” the situation.
Countdown To 100
The Unser family has led 1,159 laps at Indy. Paul Russo is the only driver to lead a race and finish last. This was in 1956 when his leading Novi popped a tire and he hit the wall. Tony Kanaan led in seven-straight races, but never the last lap. Tony Stewart has raced in five 500s and led the first four of them. From 1952-1955, Bill Vukovich drove 648 laps and led 485. Jim Rathmann (1957) and Mario Andretti (1981) are the only drivers to come from the last row and lead the 500. The most drivers to lead the 500 is 12, done in 1993. In his four wins, Rick Mears only led the most laps once, in 1984. It’s probably forgotten that Mauricio Gugelmin led the most laps (59) in 1995. Dan Wheldon has led 234 laps in the last decade.
Newsmaker – Willy T. Ribbs
On Sunday, May 19, 1991, veteran sedan racer Willy T. Ribbs became the first African-American driver to qualify for the Indianapolis 500.
Ribbs overcame four blown engines in nine days, a variety of mechanical ills and the pressure of being a rookie to earn the 29th starting spot with a four-lap average speed of 217.358 mph.
“I’m glad to make history,” said the 35-year-old native of San Jose, Calif. “When racing is all you’ve ever wanted to do in your life, it’s very satisfying.”
In the race, Ribbs made only five laps before he was forced to the pits when the Buick V-6 engine in his Bill Cosby-Derrick Walker entry developed a misfire.
Chris’s Column – July 10, 1991
“We get a kick out of foreigners demeaning U.S. oval-track racing, and then in the same breath describe the final corner of the Mexican road-racing GP circuit, the 180-degree Peraltada, as the most challenging in all of road racing. The Peraltada turn is actually one end of a one-mile oval inside the Circuito Hermanos Rodriguez. It’s where Senna got upside down and Mansell made one of the great passes of his career.”