50 Years Ago – August 17, 1960
Colorful Allen Heath, known to West Coast race fans as the “Seattle Screwball,” claimed his third-straight California Racing Ass’n sprint-car victory Saturday night on Ascot Stadium’s half-mile dirt track. Heath started eighth in the Famighetti Chevy, took the lead on lap 20 and beat Hal Minyard to the checkered flag.
25 Years Ago – August 21, 1985
Indy-car drivers Michael Andretti and Kevin Cogan were among seven people who escaped serious injury Sunday when the helicopter transporting them to Pocono Raceway crashed near Honesdale, Pa. Cogan said the helicopter was hovering approximately 50 feet off the ground when it backed into an electrical line and “all hell broke loose.”
Countdown To 100
Two of the most regrettable moments in the Indy 500 came just three years apart in 1955 and 1958 — the fatal crashes of Bill Vukovich and Pat O’Connor. There are some remarkable coincidences in both.
Vukovich’s 1955 wreck came while leading in a car O’Connor drove the year before. In both instances, the drivers were piloting a year-old Kurtis Kraft roadster. They were painted blue, wore No. 4 and started in the middle of the second row.
Despite the severity of its crash, Vukovich’s Hopkins Special was rebuilt and was driven in 1956 by Jim Rathmann. Rathmann led just one lap, the first. That car led two-consecutive races under odd circumstances.
Newsmaker – Gary Nelson
In his new role as NASCAR technical director, Gary Nelson had a major impact on stock-car racing as the former crew chief worked to eliminate gray areas in the technical pages of the rule book.
The crackdown started when teams arrived for the 1992 Daytona 500 and one veteran crew chief reportedly told Bill France, Jr., “You have eliminated 80 percent of the cheating in racing. You did that when you hired Gary Nelson.”
“I used to think of it as ‘us against them,’” Nelson said. “But since joining NASCAR, I’ve realized that when I enforce the rules, I’m not being unfair to one team, but making sure there’s a level playing field for everyone.”
Chris’s Column – June 17, 1992
“Despite his 8 a.m. Monday surgical appointment in Charlotte to go under Dr. Petty’s knife for repair of a herniated cervical disc, Ken Schrader, who took the MIS checker Sunday, flew to Haubstadt, Ind., right after the race to run at the Tri-State Speedway dirt track. Following that, he flew to Charlotte. How much sleep he got is not known, but he hit the recovery room at 10 a.m. Monday and at noon served himself lunch there!”