Torn From The Headlines – Jan. 6, 2010

ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL: Curtis Turner sleeps behind the wheel of his NASCAR stock car during the 1966 version of Speedweeks at Daytona Int'l Speedway. (Chris Economaki Photo)

ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL: Curtis Turner sleeps behind the wheel of his NASCAR stock car during the 1966 version of Speedweeks at Daytona Int’l Speedway. (Chris Economaki Photo)

50 Years Ago: January 6, 1960

Bobby Marshman captured the 35-lap main event in the weekly series of three-quarter midget racing at the Island Garden Arena in Hempstead, N.Y. Marshman, who at 22 is the youngest chauffeur competing at the Garden, had to be content with second-place money until leader Bob Albert was involved in a three-car tangle on lap 29.

25 Years Ago: January 9, 1985

Bob Senneker’s famed “Bluebird” stock car will become a Thunderbird as the all-time American Speed Ass’n win leader joins Mark Martin, Alan Kulwicki and Junior Hanley behind the wheel of Fords for 1985…George Tessean survived 85-mph wind gusts, rain and a mud-covered track to win the annual Hangover Derby Jan. 1 at Sandusky (Ohio) Speedway.

Countdown To 100

The Indianapolis 500 began in 1911 as an endurance run. Over the years a few managed to turn it into a one-man show. No one has ever led all 200 laps of the race. While not possible now, mainly because of their many pit stops, it was once at least possible.

In 1930, polesitter Billy Arnold lost the lead at the start to Louis Meyer. Arnold took command on the third lap and promptly led the rest of the way, the most dominant victory in history.

In 1912, Ralph DePalma took the lead on the third lap and no one got close to him. With two laps to go, the crankshaft snapped. Winner Joe Dawson led only two laps, the fewest by any winner.

Newsmaker: Tommy Hinnershitz

Tommy Hinnershitz, the “Flying Farmer” from Oley, Pa., told those in the pit area at the Greater Allentown Fair on Sept. 24, 1960, that he had finally hung up his goggles after a 28-year driving career.

The 48-year-old Hinnershitz, a seven-time Eastern sprint-car champion, said he had reached the point where the car was “driving him,” and his arms were so tired after a race that he could hardly steer.

In addition to his sprint-car exploits, Hinnershitz made three starts in the Indianapolis 500 with a best finish of ninth in 1948.
At the time of his retirement, Hinnershitz owned and operated a small farm and handled the mechanical chores on the Glessner Special driven by Cotton Farmer.

Chris’s Column: October 24, 1962

“Frank Kurtis, whose name is on more than 800 midget cars that continue to dominate that class of racing, is the only one out here (Los Angeles) that is not building anything for the tracks. In fact, he’s thinking seriously of getting completely out of the business and converting his property into a complex of auto service garages. Frank states with pride that he has had 127 cars in the Indianapolis 500 over the years.”