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When men were men

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#1 Bob Riebe

Bob Riebe
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Posted 21 October 2006 - 05:48

This is part of a response from Racewriter over at Track Forum when I inquired about the IMCA.

Lordy for the days when men having large cajones, was not considered abnormal.

This is about a sprint car race at the Atlanta Speeway.

The Peach Blossom 200 (miles) was held on October 11, 1964, and was promoted by American Raceways, Inc. Greg Weld won the pole at a tour of 157.434 MPH; the fastest IMCA sprint lap in history. It's entirely possible that this was the fastest average speed ever turned for a lap by anything classified as a "sprint car," anywhere. Leo Caldwell won in a Ford-powered upright in a field mixed with uprights and roadsters. Other top finishers:

2nd - Clare Lawicki
3rd - Curly Boyd
4th - Sam Sessions
5th - Red Amick
6th - John Logan

Average Speed - 124.998 MPH (probably also a record for a long sprint car race).

Caldwell won $4,125 of a total purse of $25,000; 28 cars started the race. Six of the year's 13 USAC National Championship races paid a lower purse, if that gives you an idea of the significance. Looking at the picture of the pace lap, the stands appear to be around half full. Remember that Atlanta struggled quite a bit in its first decade.


#2 watkins

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Posted 21 October 2006 - 08:47

I have to agree that those sprinter drivers had very "large cajones" back in the day. I'm not a real expert when it comes to race history like the rest on this forum, but I once went to a USAC sprint car race at Penn National, just outside of Harrisburg, Pa, back in 1971. It was one of the most impressive display of racing I've ever attended. Living near Watkins Glen I've seen most everything from F1's to snowmobiles race there, but I'll tell you, those sprinters at Penn National were truly impressive compared with some of what I've ever witness at the Glen (except for maybe the Trans Am at the time). Weld, Carter, Bettenhausen, Tobias, Parsons, Andretti and so on were all there. I couldn't believe it. All the current Indy 500 drivers were on dirt!. We just drove down to for the hell of it and were treated to a real show. No one cried if they were spun or wrecked...It was all part of the deal (unlike today in NASCAR). As I remember Gary Bettenhausen won with, as I remember, a lap over everyone else. With a run-a-way race victory like that you would think it would be boring, but it wasn't. Those guys drove faster on a half mile dirt track than anyone I've ever seen on a pave track the same size (half mile). I just couldn't believe the speeds and control those guys had. After that I always appreciated the Indy 500 a bit more knowing what these guys did most of the season. It was then I understood why the sprinters were the breeding ground for open wheel and Indy car racers in the U.S. It's too bad that system broke down...Along with the IRL vs Champ Car series (and lets not forget the "classic" [1968-1971] Trans Am series).