Racing History Minute - 1971 Motor Trend 500 - Riverside Raceway

Tim Leeming
@tim-leeming
01/11/14 10:33:46AM
3,105 posts

The 1971 NASCAR Grand National Season got underway at Riverside, California on January 10, 1971. Richard Petty would win the pole in his 1970 Plymouth with a speed of 107.084 mph but the fastest qualifier honors would go to David Pearson in a Holman-Moody Ford at 109.015 mph but the Ford would only last 25 laps before the engine exploded relegating Pearson to a 35th place finish. Second place starter was Bobby Allison in his own Dodge, Ray Elder, in his own Dodge would start third, Bobby Isaac in the K&K Insurance Dodge fourth and James Hylton in his Hylton Engineering Ford would roll off fifth. Fastest qualified, Pearson, would start 16th and that is important to know as you will see as we get into the lap leaders.

Petty led the first three circuits around the 2.62 mile road course before Bobby Allison moved in front for one lap. Then, on lap 5, Pearson, proving his quick qualifying run was no fluke, took over the number one spot and was pulling away when the engine let go on lap 25. Petty went back out front on lap 26 and would remain the leader until lap 83 when Ray Elder, a 28 year old farmer from California and a part time racer, moved into the lead from lap 84 to lap 106. Bobby Allison took over on lap 107 and held the advantage until lap 120 when the excited Elder raced his independant Dodge back to the front. From lap 136 until the race ended on lap 191, Bobby Allison and Ray Elder took turns exchanging the lead between them. With 12 laps remaining, the unknown Elder slammed his Dodge around Allison and was handling the Dodge through the twisting turns on a mission to win his first NASCAR Grand National race. A crowd of 23,000, much reduced from previous years, watched the virtually unknown kid move away from Allison to establish a 10.5 second lead to take the checkers going away.

In his post race interview, an incredulous Elder could hardly contain himself. He said, in Victory Lane "I can't believe this. Only thing is I owe most of this money to the bank". It should be noted that Elder was the ONLY one of the cars to run among the leaders who chose Firestone tires over Goodyear. The average speed for the 500 miles was 100.783 mph.

It should also be noted that this was the FIRST race run as a NASCAR Winston Cup event. R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company became the title sponsor of the series in a long time association that would prove beneficial to NASCAR as well as R. J. Reynolds. The red and white of R.J. Reynolds became the dominant colors at all NASCAR tracks for a long, long time.

Finishing order:

1. Ray Elder, Elder Dodge, winning $18,715.00

2. Bobby Allison, Allison Dodge, winning $9,215.00 (10.5 seconds down)

3. Benny Parsons, L.G. DeWitt Ford, winning $6,390.00 (2 laps down)

4. Bobby Isaac, K&K Dodge, winning $4,540.00 (2 laps down) relief by Pearson

5. James Hylton, Hylton Engineering Ford, winning $2,915.00 (6 laps down)

6. Friday Hassler

7. Kevin Terris

8. Carl Joiner

9. Henley Gray

10. Cecil Gordon

11. G. T. Tallis

12. Hershel McGriff

13. Bob England

14. Dick Kranzler

15. J. D. McDuffie

16. Dick Bown

17. Elmo Langley

18. Jack McCoy

19. Ron Gautsche

20. Richard Petty

21. John Soares, Jr.

22. Frank James

23. Ron Grable

24. Dick Gulstrand

25. Jimmy Insolo

26. Bill Champion

27. Robert Kaug

28. Paul Dorrity

29. Jerry Oliver

30. Frank Warren

31. Mike Kittlekow

32. Ron Johnstone

33. Don Noel

34. Glenn Francis

35. David Pearson

36. Joe Clark

37. Harry Shilling

38. Roy Collins

39. Ivan Baldwin

40. Pat Fay

PERSONAL NOTE: The involvement of Winston in NASCAR racing was the catalyst that began to move the sport to true national attention. Winston promoted not only the Grand National events in the beginning but also supported the local short tracks in many areas of the country. Unfortunately, and this is my opinion, at some point all the concentration moved to Cup events and the local short tracks lost that support. It was also at that point the Winston started the moved to get the Grand National events off the short tracks, the dirt tracks, and the local tracks so many of us who hang out here grew up with. Whether a good thing or not, we all have our personal opinions, but I believe the Winston Cup era was of major importance to the sport.

Honor the past, embrace the present, dream for the future


updated by @tim-leeming: 12/05/16 04:00:58PM
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
01/11/14 11:55:18AM
3,616 posts

Race report from Daytona Beach Morning Journal




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
01/11/14 12:07:30PM
3,616 posts

Throughout Riverside's NASCAR history, it seems many drivers took the esses as merely a suggestion. Intentionally or accidentally, many would simply fly through there - on and off the track - kicking up dirt and gravel along the way.

On his way to the win, Elder did a little sliding of his own. But he did his "dirt tracking" more on the asphalt. Pic from composerp at Randy Ayers.




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
01/11/14 12:10:30PM
3,616 posts

Henley Gray picked up a nice top 10 finish by placing 9th.Ray Lamm has this pic in his collection though I'm not certain if its from the MT500 or the summer's Golden State 400.




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
01/11/14 12:14:43PM
3,616 posts

Elder's win made the cover of the January 30, 1971 issue of Autoweek.

And the cover of the January 13 issue of National Speed Sport News. (Thx Russ Thompson for cover scan.)




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.

updated by @tmc-chase: 01/10/17 02:26:29PM
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
01/11/14 03:01:00PM
8,893 posts

NASCAR issued the news release below when Ray Elder passed in 2011:

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida Raymond (Ray) Elder, who won a record six championships in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, died Thursday at the age of 69.

Elder who won titles in 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974 and 1975 also distinguished himself and his West Coast-based family racing team by winning two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway in 1971 and 1972.

Ray was a tough competitor and a great representative of NASCAR on the West Coast, said George Silbermann, NASCAR vice president, regional and touring series. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Elders team with his father, Fred, the car owner and brother, Richard, the crew chief were well known as the Racing Farmers from Caruthers, Calif. Following their retirement from racing, they continued their farming operation. In addition, Elder and his wife, Pat, ran a mini-mart in Caruthers, located about 15 miles from Fresno.

Elder is second on the list of career wins in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West with 47 and also second on the list of career series poles, also with 47. His first series win came at Ascot Park in Gardena, Calif., in 1966 and his last victory was at Craig Road Speedway in Las Vegas in 1978.

In addition to his six championships, Elder finished as the runner-up in the final standings three straight years 1966, 1967, 1968. He holds various records in the modern era of the series, including the most consecutive starts, with 121, and the most top 10 finishes in a season, with 27.

Elder received the Most Popular Driver Award in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West eight times, seven in consecutive years. He was among the drivers named to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West All-Time Top-10, compiled by NASCAR and NASCAR Insider in 2005. He was among the inaugural inductees into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in 2002 and was inducted into the Fresno Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990.




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"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
01/11/14 03:27:18PM
8,893 posts

The favorite Riverside, Ca. restaurant of most stock car teams when I was going to Riverside - the Cask 'n Cleaver Steakhouse:




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
Andy DeNardi
@andy-denardi
01/12/14 12:16:49AM
365 posts

That's a poorly written press release, I hope they fired the author. It's written to imply that Elder won two Riverside Grand National races each in 1971 and 1972. It also seems to state that his father was also his brother.

I wish NASCAR would stop renaming their series each time a new sponsor comes along because I can't keep track of them accurately and make comparisons. Were Winston West cars identical to the Eastern Winston Cup cars or more similar to today's Nationwide cars? I thought they were equal, but Wikipedia says that the series was folded into Busch North, which were lesser cars to Winston Cup.

NASCAR doesn't do enough to promote their full organization during the sprint cup broadcasts. There's a long history of other regions and series that you just never hear about. I remember Ray Elder's name but had no idea that he was that good. Coming from the Northeast, I know that they don't mention the Northern or Southern Modifieds either. You would think that with Mike Joy's and Dick Berggren's involvement in Northern racing that they would have given mention once in a while. They keep talking about diversity, it would be in their favor if they mentioned they have an entire series in Mexico (and Canada and Europe). It might help dispel the general public's impression that this is a minor sport run by a bunch of rednecks down South if they mentioned the depth of racing being sanctioned. I know it's popular to pick on NASCAR but honestly, none of the guys who promote and market the sport the deserve to draw a salary. The web presence sucks, their TV and newspaper coverage is pitiful, and the owners can't see ahead or backward more than three weeks.

TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
01/10/15 03:39:18PM
3,616 posts

A few more photos from the 1971 Motor Trend 500

David Pearson

Bobby Allison - with television crew getting some footage

Reigning NASCAR GN champion Bobby Isaac

Isaac sharing a laugh with Dale Inman

Ray Elder's crew pushing his car

Partial view of the starting grid:

23 - G.T. Tallas

00 - Frank James

7 - Jack McCoy

77 - Ray Johnstone

Starting directly behind Johnsone but obscured in this pic is the 70 of J.D. McDuffie

Elder in the car wearing a full-face helmet.




--
Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.

updated by @tmc-chase: 01/10/17 02:27:07PM
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
01/10/16 12:32:24PM
3,616 posts

Just days before the race, Riverside was sold to a group of investors. Larry LoPatin had been bounced from the company he founded, American Raceways, Inc., and replaced as CEO by Riverside's track president Les Richter. Then ARI sold its stake in Riverside to a group of four external investors. Interestingly, Richter was retained as head of both ARI and Riverside after the sale.




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
01/10/16 12:39:06PM
3,616 posts

Little known Gary Kershaw won the preliminary Permatex 200 on Saturday, January 9 after a miscalculation on fuel by Clem Proctor's crew. Proctor was so angry after making an unnecessary pit stop that he gunned his car and blew the engine.

Pic from Mike McKenzie collection at WesternSpeedway.net.




--
Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.

updated by @tmc-chase: 01/10/17 02:27:24PM
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
01/10/16 12:47:08PM
3,616 posts

Sunday's pre-race entertainment was a break-taking aeronautical stunt show by Art Scholl and Skip Volk.

This video will give you an idea of the kind of stunts the duo may have performed that day. Unless I'm mistaken, I'm pretty sure the video's narrator is Bud Lindemann who also narrated the Car and Track syndicated series about NASCAR.


Sadly, Scholl was killed in 1985 while capturing some footage during filming of the movie Top Gun. His plane hit the ocean, and neither it or his body was ever recovered.




--
Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.

updated by @tmc-chase: 01/10/17 02:27:41PM
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
01/10/16 12:48:44PM
3,616 posts




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
01/10/16 12:59:45PM
8,893 posts

That was Hershel McGriff's son, Doug posting the 38th place finish in the Permatex go. Doug would later co-drive with his father at LeMans in 1976.




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
01/10/17 02:27:55PM
3,616 posts

Bump




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.