Racing History Minute - March 5, 1972

Tim Leeming
@tim-leeming
4 years ago
3,119 posts

It was not easy finding a date for the History Minute for this date that did not represent a win by either Richard or Lee Petty. March 5th must have been a great date for races if you were a Petty as the first four races I found on this date were Petty victories. I leave those races for my good friend TMC Chase as HE is the Petty Historian and does a fantastic job. Perhaps he will add one or more of those races to today's report.

Today we head out west to the 2.5 mile track known as Ontario Motor Speedway. All the photos and videos I've ever seen of that track indicates it was a beautiful facility, built somewhat on the design of Indy, but sort of in a class by itself.

A. J. Foyt, winner of the previous 500 at Ontario, parked his Wood Brothers Mercury on the pole with a qualifying speed of 153.217 mph. Even though the track was 2.5 miles, same length as Daytona, banking on the Ontario turns was practically non-existent, thereby giving such a lower speed. Bobby Allison, in a Richard Howard Chevrolet, would start second, Richard Petty in the Petty Enterprises Plymouth third, Buddy Baker in the Petty Enterprises Dodge fourth, and Bobby Isaac in the K&K Dodge fifth. There were 51 cars starting the race in rows of 3 abreast, akin to the Indy 500. There was more Indy influence there than just the track design.

A. J. Foyt would show Wood Brothers dominance by leading 145 laps of the 200. Others to lead were Bobby Isaac, Ray Elder, Bobby Allison, Benny Parsons, Buddy Bakerand Richard Petty. However, the other leaders were in front for just a few laps at a time before being overtaken by the flying Foyt. It was just a Wood Brothers kind of day. As dominant as Foyt was, the lead did change hands a total of 25 times between 7 drivers.

It was during this race that Richard Petty recorded a milestone event worth the noting. On the 80th of the 200 laps, Petty recorded his 100,000 mile complete in Cup racing. Although that was probably mostly overlooked at the time, it was a milestone not matched by anyone at that time.

On lap 45, Bobby Isaac hooked the left rear of Mark Donohue and both cars crashed hard into the wall. Donohue was unhurt, but Isaac climbed from his car, walked to the infield grass and collapsed. He was treated for a bruised shoulder in the infield hospital and released. Isaac accepted responsibility for the accident although he did point out that Donohue moved down to pass another car when Isaac was "there". That was the second new K&K Dodge destroyed in the new year.

A crowd of 68,498 watched the race under a bright California sun. The race was also televised, in part, by ABC Sports and it ran opposite a professional basketball game. The telecast drew a 8.3 rating for the first half hour but increased to 12.3 in the second part of the race. This is of interest as both races thus far in 2014 have drawn less than a 5.0 rating.

Finishing Order:

1. A. J. Foyt, Wood Brothers Mercury, winning $31,695.00

2. Bobby Allison, Richard Howard Chevy,winning $16,945.00 (4.2 secs back)

3. Buddy Baker, Petty Enterprises Dodge, winning $11,670.00

4. Richard Petty, Petty Enterprises Plymouth, winning $9,970.00 (1 lap down)

5. Ray Elder, Fred Elder Dodge, winning $5,545.00 (6 laps down)

6. Hershel McGriff

7. James Hylton

8. Marty Robbins

9. Elmo Langley

10. Ramo Stott

11.Jimmy Finger

12. Jack McCoy

13. John Soares, Jr.

14. Benny Parsons

15.Bill Butts

16. Cliff Garner

17. Johnny Anderson

18. Dick Bown

19. J. C. Danielson

20. Bill Champion

21. Ben Arnold

22. Kevin Terris

23. J. D. McDuffie

24. Mike James

25. Dean Dalton

26. Raymond Williams

27. Jim Whitt

28. George Altheide

29. Bob Kauf

30. Carl Adams

31. Henley Gray

32. Charles Roberts

33. Chuck Bown

34. Les Loester

35. Ron Gautsche

36. Cecil Gordon

37. Dick Kranzler

38. Don White

39. Gene Romaro

40. G. T. Tallas

41. Red Farmer

42. Earl Canavan

43. Frank Warren

44. Mark Donohue

45. Bobby Isaac

46. Bill Osborne

47. Walter Ballard

48. Don Noel

49. George Follmer

50. David Ray Boggs

51. Jim Vandiver

PERSONAL MEMORIES: Actually, I don't recall seeing this race televised by ABC so either I wasn't keeping up with the television listings or it received very little advertisement here. But, being located in Columbia, South Carolina, it is a pretty safe bet to assume our local ABC affiliate had some college basketball game to televise. Our local affiliates for ABC, CBS, and NBC here in Columbia go overboard in coverage of college sports, be it football, basketball or baseball, in an effort to appeal to the major university fans of both Clemson and Carolina.

I do have special memories of the Ontario Motor Speedway though as every time I did see a video or picture from that track, and finally in the later years some televised races live from the facility, I always thought it a beautiful track and the competition was good, in my opinion. It was a shame to lose that track but we lost Riverside which I truly enjoyed and Ontario. That left us Somona which is passable as a road course and the Fontana debacle. While doing these History Minutes I have discovered several Grand National races run in California in the early days so the interest for the sport is there, or was there. Not sure where that interest may be now but thinking about it, all the Beach Boy songs were about drag racing and little old ladies in a hotrod superstock Dodge, with none about oval track racing. Perhaps, and just perhaps, that may be the problem, if, indeed, there is a problem.

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


updated by @tim-leeming: 03/06/18 01:33:26AM
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
4 years ago
9,125 posts

The very last NASCAR race ever run at Ontario - November 1980 - was the very first for our Wrangler sponsorship to appear on a Dale Earnhardt car and it was the race he clinched the 1980 Winston Cup Championship.

I was not at that race, however. As the new Manager of Wrangler NASCAR Special Events, I hadn't moved yet to corporate headquarters in Greensboro to assume that position, but was still in Wilson in eastern North Carolina training my replacement as Division Personnel Manager.

When I first started flying out to Riverside in 1981 from Greensboro, I could get a better deal flying Delta to Atlanta and then on to the Ontario, California airport than I could flying into LAX in Los Angeles.

Leaving the Ontario airport in the rental car to drive to Riverside, you'd pass right by the big frontstretch portion of the Ontario grandstands, already a ghost. Now Riverside is also gone. I've never been to Fontana, but have no desire to, either.

Ontario main grandstand photo by RR member, Scott Baker - BakerRacingPix

Postcard - posted at charliesangels.org




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
4 years ago
9,125 posts

Some of Bud Lindemann's packaged Car & Track Productions film of the March 5, 1972 Miller High Life 500 at Ontario in a pretty poor quality taping from SpeedVision:




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
4 years ago
3,985 posts

Race program

Bud Lindemann giving Ken Squier a run for his money in creating the dramatic effect. And how about that 3 wide start like the Indy 500 and 1950s era Southern 500s.

The cars lined up 3-wide for the drop of the green.

Buddy Baker was making only his 2nd start of the season as the 2nd STP / Petty team car. He was an oh-so-close finisher in those 1st two years of Ontario. P2 to Foyt in the white Petty Dodge in 1971, and P3 to Foyt again in 1972 in the STP / Petty Charger.

After sporting Petty blue numerals at Daytona on his Dodge, the team changed them to white numerals for Ontario. I'd like to learn why the switch was made. Easier for a spotter to see? Hard to believe as that day glo red car would be easily identifiable anywhere on the track. Request of Chrysler / Dodge folks to 'de-identify' it as a Petty car? Possibly, but factory support was essentially non-existent by 72. Request by STP? Perhaps, but if so why? -Richard Guido

After starting the season at Riverside with a Petty blue Plymouth with STP decals at the last minute, the 43 rolled out at Daytona with the new Petty blue / STP red look. At the beach and again at Ontario, the team ran a black or very dark blue hood stripe leading to the STP oval.




--
Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
4 years ago
3,985 posts

Race report fromSpartanburg Herald




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
4 years ago
9,125 posts

I laughed at Bud Lindemann's opening describing the "packed" grandstands due to the show put on by the Rebels the previous year. Then the camera showed the start and the "crowd" in the stands, which looked about like the half empty/full stands today at California Speedway.




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
4 years ago
3,985 posts

How the Spartanburg paper managed to run a wire report with "Freddie Baker" is beyond me. I checked many articles, and this was only I one I found that did so. Immediately I laughed as I imagined Fredo Corleone behind the wheel of a stock car.

"I can handle a car! I'm smart! Not like everybody says... like dumb... I'm smart and I want to drive!"

Fredo.jpg



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

updated by @tmc-chase: 03/05/17 10:00:36AM
Dave Fulton
@dave-fulton
4 years ago
9,125 posts

6 years later on the March 5th date - in 1978, it was again the Wood Brothers #21 in victory lane.

This time the race was all the way across the country from Ontario in Rockingham and the winning Wood Brothers driver was David Pearson in the Carolina 500.

It was his 100th career Cup win.




--
"Any Day is Good for Stock Car Racing"
Andy DeNardi
@andy-denardi
4 years ago
365 posts

I saw this article and thought of you guys. I've seen many photos here (like the one above) that came from Getty Images. Hopefully this will allow you to post pictures that don't have that big gray box covering some details.

Getty Images makes much of its photo portfolio free to use

TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
4 years ago
3,985 posts

Andy - saw the same this afternoon and was genuinely excited...at first. So far, most pics I've seen still have watermarks on them. Guessing it may take a while to bring Getty's clients around to agreeing to this solution. But I think it may bode well for sharing neat pics near without the WMs on them.




--
Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.
Tim Leeming
@tim-leeming
4 years ago
3,119 posts

That definition of "packed" apparently still applies when FOX makes that statement to a grandstand less than half full. The NASCAR spin to crowds. I have it on good authority that NASCAR is working on a new "spin" as to television racings. Brian was seen in deep conversation with Michael Waltrip and Clint Bowyer regarding such "spin".

Tim Leeming
@tim-leeming
4 years ago
3,119 posts

Dennis, thanks for your addition to this thread of comments. I did not know this information about Chevron. It is sad to see a race track fall in such a way but I suppose money and greed will do it every time.

Scott Baker
@scott-baker
3 years ago
69 posts

Packed?

Maybe during the running of the first 2 California 500s for Indy cars.

One thing that didn't help was that there was seating for @200,000, so if 80k showed up, it looked empty.

BTW: One of the best Stock Car races I Have ever seen was the 1976 West Coast 250 at Ontario.An open comp race won by Jimmy Insolo by 6" over L.D. Ottinger. After a rain delay of one week, I along with about 4,500 other race fans were there. Plenty of room to stretch out :(

TMC Chase
@tmc-chase
last year
3,985 posts

Bump




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Schaefer: It's not just for racing anymore.