HISTORY OF 1949 AAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACING (cont.-24) 13. Sacramento 100, October 30, 1949. A Championship level 100 miler to be held at the Sacramento State Fairgrounds was announced on October 3, with J. C. Agajanian as its promotor and general manager. This was the first genuine National Championship race to be held in the state of California since the December 24, 1934 Mines Field 200, won by Kelly Petillo in a Sparks/Stevens-Summers car, owned jointly by Art Sparks and Paul Weirick. The Sacramento mile was constructed in 1906.
Troy Ruttman, who drove in the first three 1949 Championship events (i.e. Dallas, Indianapolis, & Milwaukee), had a bad crash at Arlington Downs, in a big car meet held on July 17, 1949. Troy did not return to Championship racing until the last two California races, Sacramento and Del Mar. After Mel Hansen got hurt in early September, Spider Webb took over the Bowes No. 55 dirt car for three straight contests (i.e. Syracuse, Detroit, & Springfield), but now here at Sacramento, Ruttman was the chauffeur for the Bowes No. 55 dirt machine.
The Pat Clancy No. 57 six wheeler had run as such at Detroit, but now had been coverted back to being a normal four wheel vehicle by Wayne Ewing. Jackie Holmes (1920-1995) had driven it at Indianapolis and Milwaukee, while Mack Hellings (1915-1951) used it at Trenton. Jimmy Davies (1929-1966) first rode in it at Syracuse, Detroit, and Springfield. It is not quite clear just when it was reformulated into a four wheeler, but it was somewhere between the Detroit and Sacramento contests.
Fred Agabashian (1913-1989), whose only previous Championship start for 1949, had been at Indianapolis, was now given for the Sacramento chase, the Agajanian No. 98, which Johnny Mantz (1918-1972) had placed 7th at Indy in May. For 1949 Mantz was generally the pilot of Agajanian's No. 98 Champ car but Johnny was now in the eastern U.S. campaigning a sprint car (i.e. the "Agajanian No. 98, Jr.") and so Agabashian subtituted for Mantz here at Sacramento. So far Mantz had had seven Championship 1949 starts in it, with his best placements being 3rd at Dallas (April 24) and a 5th at Milwaukee (June 5).
The fastest five in the Sacramento qualification trials were 1. Agabashian (Offenhauser/Kurtis) 37.57 seconds or 95.8 mph, 2. Ruttman (Offenhauser/Lesvosky) 37.71, 3. Mays (Offenhauser/Kurtis) 38.04, 4. Connor (Offenhauser/Bromme) 38.09, and 5. Brown (Offenhauser/Kurtis) 38.51. The quickest 18 were to start. The trials began at 1:30 p.m. and the race at 3:00 p.m.
The race was totally dominated by Agabashian, who led every circuit except lap 20. Here Rex Mays forged into the lead for one lap, during heavy traffic, and was in front briefly for a lap and a half. Agabashian however quickly got by Mays when the traffic cleared. In just another five laps Fred was in front of Mays by a full straightaway. Agabashian's 50 mile time was 34:10.2. Freddie was really flying and on lap 60, lapped Ruttman who was then riding in 3rd place. After that the Aganjanian pit crew ordered Fred to slow down. The most interesting aspect of the contest was the battle between Ruttman and Connor for 3rd place. Troy was passed by Connor for 3rd, on circuit 28, but lost it to Ruttman on lap 35. Connor was still pressing Ruttman closely on the 72 round, but then George retired with engine and brake problems.
Parsons who started 13th, was up to the 7th position by lap 15. Three circuits later his brakes went out, but he kept going, and had passed Dinsmore for 6th place by lap 30. When Connor retired after 72 circuits, Johnnie moved up to 5th. At 75 laps Parsons passed Walt Brown and took over 4th. At about circuit 85, the car's underpan came loose and began dragging on the track. Johnnie had to slow down and Myron Fohr then moved pass him, to take 4th. The top five finishers at 100 miles were:
1. Fred Agabashian (Offenhauser/Kurtis), 1:11:01.05 or 84.486 mph, Agajanian No. 98
2. Rex Mays (Offenhauser/Kurtis), 100 laps, Wolfe No. 15, 36 seconds behind
3. Troy Ruttman (Offenhauser/Lesvosky), 100 laps, Bowes Seal Fast No. 55
4. Myron Fohr (Offenhauser/Marchese), 100 laps, Marchese No. 2
5. Johnnie Parsons (Offenhauser/Kurtis), 100 laps, Kurtis-Kraft No. 12
Dinsmore was out after 57 laps with an overcooked engine. Bill Holland in Milt Marion's Kurtis, started 9th and ran in 8th for most of the time, before retiring on lap 70 with a broken wheel. The attendance was 12,272. This was J. C. Aganjanian's second Championship win. as Mantz had won with the same exact car at the Milwaukee 100 on August 15, 1948.
As Freddie came off the track several thousand spectators quickly surrounded Agabashian and his car, seeking autographs. "The track as a whole was in good shape, but there were a few rough spots in it.", Fred said. "I went into a slide once and headed for a big hole. However I managed to keep the car sideways and straddle the rut. My brakes went out early in the race. I got caught in the jam and there was nothing I could do when Mays breesed by me. As for future plans nothing is definite now. I may compete in the championship race at Del Mar next Saturday."
Fred Agabashian was a local boy and resided in Albany, CA. He began his racing career in 1932. On June 7, 1938 Fred won a 250 mile stock car contest run at the Oakland Speedway. During the years 1946, 1947, and 1948 Agabashian was the Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) champion. Fred's only AAA Championship starts prior to his Sacramento victory were three appearances in the Indianapolis 500, i.e. 1947, 1948, and 1949. Agabashian's best finish so far at Indy was 9th in 1947, when he was a rookie.
Although it would have no effect on who would be the 1949 AAA National Champion (as Fohr was already mathematically eliminated but was in 2nd position in the point totals) Myron added 120 to his total, and Parsons received another 100. After Sacramento Parsons had 2280 and Fohr 1650. Bill Holland was in 3rd with 1420 counters.
On December 19, the California State Fair directors voted to make the National Championship Sacramento 100 mile event, an annual affair. The fair Secretary-Manager, Ned Green, was then authorized to make a deal with Agajanian for a 1950 race.
After Sacramento the AAA Championship circuit would move to Del Mar, CA, to contest the last major race for 1949, at a horse racing facility proper on November 6.
Edited by john glenn printz, 16 November 2012 - 16:32.