Eagle 1972 Indy car-by-car histories
The classic 1972 Indianapolis Eagle, designed by Roman Slobodynskyj, was the fastest car of 1972, and the most popular customer Indy car of its era. Together with its inspiration, the McLaren M16, it completely redefined the design of Indycars.
Slobodynskyj had been with AAR since 1969, having previously worked as a designer in the aerospace operations of the Rockwell Corporation. He worked with Tony Southgate on the 1969 Eagle and with Len Terry on the 1970 Eagle, but the starting point for the 1972 Eagle was McLaren M16, which had broken all speed records when it first appeared in early 1971. The width of the new Eagle was the maximum allowed under USAC regulations, as was its overall length, the distance from the rear wheels to the rear wing, and the height of the rear wing. Wide and flat, the car had its main cooling radiators situated just behind the front wheels, taking advantage of the airflow through the inboard front suspension, and ducted out at the sides. Behind the radiators, the sidepods had room for 75 US gallons of fuel. The front uprights and the rear frame that contained the Offenhauser engine were both carried over from the 1970-71 Eagle. The complete car was heavy, but strong. One of its biggest advantages was a closely-guarded secret: in testing late in 1971, the team had developed the 'Gurney Flap', a small strip on the upper trailing edge of the wing which increased downforce without increasing drag. It was only made public 18 months later when McDonnell Douglas (unsuccessfully) applied for a patent on Gurney's behalf.
With Bobby Unser driving, the new car was immediately fast when it started testing at Ontario in December 1971, and in March 1972 set an astonishing time on the same track of 196.9 mph. He won the opening race at Phoenix and took pole at Indy, but retired while leading at the Speedway, and despite taking seven pole positions that year, only won four races, breaking down the rest of the time. The sheer speed of the car was astonishing, and Unser's teammate Jerry Grant set the first qualifying lap of more than 200 mph at Ontario in September. AAR soon had a full order book and delivered at least 14 before the end of the season. At least ten more were ready by the time of the 1973 Indy 500 and the 1972 Eagle was the dominant model of the 1970s.
If you can add anything to our understanding of these cars, please contact Allen Brown (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The prototype 1972 Eagle was tested over the winter and then used as AAR's #6 Olsonite entry for Bobby Unser on "the mile tracks" during 1972, winning at Phoenix, Trenton, Milwaukee and Phoenix again in November. Sold to Stan Malless, Bob Voigt and Dick Sommers of MVS and converted to turbo Ford engines. Raced for MVS by Sammy Sessions as the #9 in 1973 then reappeared at the 1974 Indy 500 for Denny Zimmerman and at the 1975 Indy 500 for various drivers but did not qualify for either race. Then almost certainly the #72 Custom Motor Home car raced by Tom Frantz (Littleton, CO) in 1976 which went to Ed Crombie (Williams Lake, British Columbia, Canada) for 1977, when it was driven by Larry Cannon and Jerry Sneva. Crombie still had the car in 1983 when he ran it at the Knox hillclimb (Kelowna, British Columbia). History then unknown until advertised by Bob Jordan's Investment Motorsport Inc (Glenview, IL) in June 1990, when it still had its Ford engine and was said to be unraced since 1976. At some point the car was restored by former AAR fabricator Mike Lewis to its 1972 livery and with an Offy engine. It appeared in this specification at the Amelia Island concours in 2002, and was raced by Bob Jordan (Winnetka, IL) at Road America in July 2006. It was offered at the Gooding & Co Pebble Beach auction in August 2008 but did not sell. In 2010, the car was featured on a 'The Motorcar Society' video. It was next seen at the Historic Indycar Exhibition at the Speedway in May 2016, when it was owned by Scott Borchetta (Nashville, TN).
Driven by: Bobby Unser, Sammy Sessions, Denny Zimmerman, Bill Simpson, George Follmer, Jigger Sirois, Jim Hurtubise, Lee Kunzman, Rick Muther, Tom Frantz, Larry Cannon, Ed Crombie and Jerry Sneva. First race: Phoenix International Raceway (R1), 18 Mar 1972. Total of 13 recorded races.
New to Doug Champlin & Fred Carillo of Champ Carr, Inc.and entered at Indy in 1972 as the #34 Norris Industries entry for Sam Posey. This car was not seen in the Champ Carr team during 1973, but was presumably the #31 entry at the Indy 500, that Carillo substituted illegally for the team's #34 car chassis 7226) which had already been bumped. To Marvin Webster (Mill Valley, CA) for 1974 and his #76 Webster Racing entry for the next three seasons, although Webster also had a 1966 Eagle used on short tracks. At Ontario in September 1976, John Mahler was entered in a "Webster-Offy" but a photograph shows that it was the team's usual Eagle. It was wrecked during the race and no Marvin Webster entry appears again. History then unknown, but later in the collection of Bruce McCaw (Seattle, WA). From McCaw it went to Ray Cooke (Langley, WA), and in late 1995 was advertised in Autoweek by Craig Coyer, a Seattle used car dealer who had taken it as trade on a Porsche. It was bought from him in 1996 by Greg Scott (Del Mar, CA), who found it to be virtually complete. Scott ran the car in the Victory Lane/VARA Indy Car Historics at Fontana from about 1997 to 2001 or 2002. It also appeared at Del Mar's 'Vehicles of Character' car show in September 2004. Since then, it has been in storage. Still owned by Scott in November 2018.
Driven by: Sam Posey, Rick Muther, Lee Brayton, Jerry Karl, Billy Scott, Jim McElreath and John Mahler. First race: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (R3), 27 May 1972. Total of 11 recorded races.
New for Bobby Unser to drive as the #6 Olsonite entry in 1972 and, as 7201 was used on mile tracks in 1972, this would be the car with which he took pole position car at Indy in 1972 and also used at Michigan, Pocono and Ontario. The car was retained for 1973 and raced by Wally Dallenbach as the #62 at the 1973 Indy 500. After Jerry Grant '73 Eagle was sold to the Patrick team, Grant drove this car at Ontario in September 1973, qualifying second. He crashed heavily on the second lap, hitting the Turn 2 wall. The car was not used again and remained in storage at AAR until a restoration conducted by Mike Lewis and John Weatherwax, and completed by John Mueller. On display in the “Dan Gurney Garage” at Monterey in 2010. At the IMS Museum in May 2015. In the showroom at AAR in March 2016. At AAR headquarters in August 2018 and in November 2021.
Driven by: Bobby Unser, Wally Dallenbach and Jerry Grant. First race: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (R3), 27 May 1972. Total of 7 recorded races.
One of two 1972 Eagles bought new by Jerry O'Connell's Sugaripe Prune team and raced by Billy Vukovich as the #3 entry in 1972, with Jud Phillips as chief mechanic. As the later history of 7207 is known from an invoice, and as the cars have distinct differences that can be seen in photographs, 7204 can be safely identified as Vukovich's 1972 Indy 500 car, after which it swapped roles with 7207 and became his short track car. It remained his short track car in 1973, and is then believed to have raced just twice in 1974. Sold to Donald Mergard and very probably the car raced by Bob Harkey as Mergard Racing's #42 entry at Michigan late that season. Retained by Mergard for another six seasons, racing as the #42 with numerous drivers and sponsors. In 1981, this car appears to have become Tom Frantz' #71 entry for Bob Frey. Subsequent history unknown. At some point restored and on display in the IMS Museum. Seen at the Marin Sonoma Concours d'Elegance in May 2011. On display in the IMS museum in May 2015.
Driven by: Billy Vukovich, Bob Harkey, Jan Opperman, John Mahler, Larry Cannon, Larry McCoy, Bertil Roos, Roger Rager, Dick Ferguson, Herm A. Johnson, John Wood, Bob Frey and Bill Henderson. First race: Phoenix International Raceway (R1), 18 Mar 1972. Total of 33 recorded races.
AAR's third team car in 1972 and entered at the Indy 500 as the #48 Mystery Eagle for Jerry Grant. Also raced by Grant at other races that season, taking pole position at Ontario with the first official lap at over 200 mph. The car was sold to engine specialist Bruce H. Crower for 1973 and entered as his #23 Crower Cams car as a test bed for various Chevrolet engine projects over the next three seasons. In late 1976, the car returned again as the #57, powered by Crower's own flat-6 engine. Crower then acquired a 1974 Eagle for 1978 and the '72 car was retired. According to Philippe de Lespinay, it was still owned by Crower in 2016, still with the flat-8 engine, but in a very sorry state. In early 2021, the car was acquired from Crower by AAR.
Driven by: Jerry Grant, Rick Muther, Skip Barber, Jim McElreath, Chuck Gurney, Tom Sneva, Johnny Parsons Jr and Jerry Karl. First race: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (R3), 27 May 1972. Total of 15 recorded races.
New to Don Gerhardt and entered for Jim Malloy as the #16 Thermo King car at the 1972 Indy 500. On the morning of Sunday May 14, just before qualifying was to begin, Malloy slid wide coming out of turn 3 and hit the wall, the Eagle catching fire. The car was "virtually demolished" in the accident and Malloy was flown to Methodist Hospital with both arms and both legs broken, and burns to his hands and feet. He died four days later.
Driven by: Jim Malloy. First appearance: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (R3), 27 May 1972.
One of two 1972 Eagles, the other being 7204, bought new by Jerry O'Connell's Sugaripe Prune team and raced by Billy Vukovich as the #3 entry in 1972, with Jud Phillips as chief mechanic. This car can be identified from an invoice later in its life so is known to Vukovich's backup car at the 1972 Indy 500 (entered as #32 but ran as #3 and crashed during practice) and then became his long track car later in the season. Finished second at the 1973 Indy 500 and won at Michigan the following August. The team then bought a 1974 Eagle and sold 7204 but kept this car as a backup for three more seasons. Sold to Arthur E. 'Art' Sugai (Ontario, OR) for 1977 and entered as the #91 Eastside Café car that season, alongside the ex-Penske 7225. Sold with 7225 to collector/dealer Chuck Haines (St Louis, MO) in May 1980 and fully restored to 1972 specification by Walter Goodwin of Race Car Restorations. On display for many years at the "International Motorsports Hall of Fame", a NASCAR museum at Talladega Speedway in Alabama. Still with Chuck in August 2018.
Driven by: Billy Vukovich, Mike Mosley, Teddy Pilette, Clark Templeman and Steve Krisiloff. First race: Milwaukee Mile (R4), 4 Jun 1972. Total of 16 recorded races.
Sold new to Henry "Smokey" Yunick to be fitted with Yunick's own 207 ci turbocharged Chevrolet V8 and transmission but not ready in time for the 1972 Indy 500. First raced by Jerry Karl as the #83 at Ontario in September. Raced at the three 500-mile events in 1973 by Karl, and also by Sammy Sessions at Pocono in 1974 but failed to qualify at Indy. Returned to Indy again in 1975 for Karl where it finished 13th. Later donated to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum but the car is not regularly exhibited and in 2007 was said to be in the basement of the museum. In April 2008, it was on display at the Honda Collection Hall in Japan in connection with the Indy Japan 300 at Motegi. On display at Indianapolis Airport in December 2016.
Driven by: Jerry Karl and Sammy Sessions. First race: Ontario Motor Speedway (R8), 3 Sep 1972. Total of 6 recorded races.
New to Don Gerhardt to replace chassis 7206 destroyed in Jim Malloy's fatal accident at the 1972 Indy 500. Raced by Johnny Rutherford as the #18 Thermo King Special entry for the latter half of 1972. Retained for 1973 when Mike Hiss took over as team driver but Gerhardt had also acquired chassis 7216, and 7209 was used mainly on short tracks that year. Jim McElreath took over the Gerhardt drive in 1974 and used both 7209 and 7216 at the 1974 Indy 500, racing 7209. Gary Bettenhausen rejoined Gerhardt for 1975 and raced 7209 at the Indy 500 and at Pocono, with 7216 now being used on short tracks. For 1976, Bettenhausen used 7216 at the Indy 500, and 7209 was allocated to Eddie Miller but he destroyed the car in a heavy accident during practice. The remains sat at a body shop in Fresno, CA for a long time, before they were acquired by John Mueller for parts to aid in his restoration of 7228. He scrapped what he did not need, but part of the footbox together with the chassis plate were sent to Jacques Dresang as a souvenir.
Driven by: Johnny Rutherford, Mike Hiss, Jim McElreath, Gary Bettenhausen and Eddie Miller. First race: Pocono International Raceway (R6), 29 Jul 1972. Total of 19 recorded races.
One of two 1972 Eagles sold to Patrick Racing for 1973, chassis 7210 is understood to be the car raced by Swede Savage as the #42 Patrick Racing entry and then at the Indy 500 as the #40 STP Oil Treatment Spl. Savage crashed heavily during the race and was very badly burned. He was taken to hospital but died a month later. The car was comprehensively destroyed in the accident.
Driven by: Swede Savage. First race: Texas World Speedway (R1), 7 Apr 1973. Total of 4 recorded races.
Driven by Mel Kenyon for the Lindsey Hopkins team over three seasons. It was first raced at Ontario 3 Sep 1972 and was the #23 in 1972 and then the #19 in 1973 and 1974 after being converted to Foyt-Ford power by Eldon Rasmussen. Its tub was used to rebuild 7215 in 1974 but was damaged at Michigan in July when Bentley Warren hit the wall. When the two Eagles were retired, they were sold by Hopkins crew Duane Glasgow to Fred Fuhr (Hastings, MI), who sold them to Bill Wiswedel (Holland, MI) in 1981. Bill sold 7211 to Chuck Haines (St Louis, MO) in 1982 or 1983, who sold it on to Dale Bargman (Denver, CO) in February 1984. Bargmann (later of Gilbert, AZ) fully restored the car and sold it to Dave Hammers (Sea Cliff, NY) around 1988, and he sold it to Bill Wonder (Glen Cove, NY) in 2011. Wonder died in January 2022 at the grand age of 98, and his cars are due to be auctioned by Gooding & Company at its Pebble Beach auction in August 2022.
Driven by: Mel Kenyon. First race: Ontario Motor Speedway (R8), 3 Sep 1972. Total of 7 recorded races.
To Dick Simon, fitted with a Foyt-Ford V8 turbo engine and first raced as his #44 Travelodge entry at Phoenix in November 1972, where he was second fastest in Friday practice. Raced by Simon through 1973 and 1974 as the #44, retaining its Travelodge sponsorship until mid-1974. Returned in 1975 with Bruce Cogle Ford backing and in 1976 with Lan Hairpieces and later Robyn CB sponsorship when it was driven by Roger Rager. Not at Indy in 1977 but later in the year it was acquired by Nick Krantz and entered for Phil Threshie, still as the #44 but now with Mr. Golden Sunflower sponsorship. Crashed by Threshie in practice for the 1977 California 500 at Ontario and not seen again.
Driven by: Dick Simon, Billy Engelhart, Larry Dickson, Roger Rager and Phil Threshie. First race: Phoenix International Raceway (R10), 4 Nov 1972. Total of 40 recorded races.
AAR sales records show that this is one of two cars sold new to Bob Fletcher. It is likely to be 'the first Fletcher Racing car' below, which first appeared at Texas World Speedway in April 1973.
Acquired by the Lindsey Hopkins team at some point late in 1972. It is not yet clear where Lee Kunzman first raced this car for Hopkins, as his #10 car in 1972 was a 1970 Eagle, and only photographs will show exactly where each car was used. The 1972 Eagle was Hopkins' #16 Ayr-Way Lloyds entry for Kunzman, and then became the #16 US Air Force entry for Bentley Warren later that season. It became the #42 Hopkins Buick entry for Jerry Karl to race in 1974. It was wrecked by Karl at the Indy 500, and team crew Duane Glasgow rebuilt it using the 7211 tub to run at Pocono and Michigan with Bentley Warren driving again. Warren had a tyre blow at Michigan in July, hit the wall and wrecked the 7211 tub. Duane then repaired the 7215 tub and had the car ready for Michigan in September with Mel Kenyon driving, but he hit the second turn wall heavily. Neither tub was repaired for racing again and both were later sold by Glasgow to Fred Fuhr (Hastings, MI) who sold them in 1981 to Bill Wiswedel (Holland, MI). Bill sold 7215 to restorer Walt Goodwin in the early 1990s who sold it to his customer Jim Jaeger for whom he then restored it to 1973 Indy 500 form. Run at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 1999. Jaeger retained the car in 2010. Appeared at the vintage event at Indianapolis in May 2015. Presumably still owned by Jaeger at that point but rumoured to have been sold some time between 2014 and 2016. Presumably the car entered by Kenneth Keilholz (Milford, OH) at the Historic Indycar Exhibition in May 2016. Run by Lyn St James at Phoenix in May 2018.
Driven by: Lee Kunzman, Bentley Warren, Jerry Karl and Mel Kenyon. First race: Trenton International Speedway (R3), 15 Apr 1973. Total of 14 recorded races.
Built in the fall of 1972 as one of the two replacement Thermo King/Gerhardt cars after Malloy's crash at Indy in 1972. Used by Mike Hiss in the 1973 500 as the #6 car; then the #46 car used by Jim McElreath in practice in 1974; then the #46 car used by Rick Muther and Jan Opperman in practice in 1975; then the #45 car qualified by Gary Bettenhausen in 1976. After Eddie Miller wrecked the sister Gerhardt Eagle (7209) at Indy in 1976, 7216 was driven by Bettenhausen and Steve Krisiloff for the rest of 1976. Sold by Fred Gerhardt to Gary Howard when Gerhardt stopped racing but not raced by Howard, and sold to Bob Featherly (East Syracuse, NY) about 1980/81. Still with Featherly in March 2016.
Driven by: Mike Hiss, Jim McElreath, Gary Bettenhausen, Jan Opperman, Rick Muther, George Snider and Steve Krisiloff. First race: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (R4), 30 May 1973. Total of 22 recorded races.
New to Patrick Racing and raced by Gordy Johncock in 1973 as the #25 Patrick Racing entry early in 1973 and then became the #20 STP Double Oil Filter Special at the Indy 500 when Patrick Racing picked up STP sponsorship. Johncock won the Indy 500 in this car but it was wrecked at Pocono in July when a wheel came off and then damaged again at Milwaukee in August in an incident with Johnny Rutherford while Johncock was leading the race. The Eagle was repaired, sold to Lee Brayton and John Eisenhour, and raced by Brayton at Michigan in September 1973 as the #61 Eisenhour-Brayton car, replacing the team's 1972 Coyote. Retained for 1974 when it was Brayton's #28 car, also driven by Mike Hiss at Ontario. Wrecked by Brayton at Indianapolis during practice on 7 May when Tom Bigelow spun in front of him, and extensively damaged, the Daily Reports noting that the Eagle was "apparently a complete loss". Brayton had to return to the old Coyote for Pocono and it is not clear whether he raced the Coyote again at Michigan later in the year or whether the Eagle had been repaired. Retained by Lee Brayton and undergoing restoration at Walter Goodwin's workshop in May 2010. In June 2010, it appears that this car was placed in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, replacing the mueum's replica of Johncock's 1973 Indy 500 winner. Sold to Bruce McCaw around 2012. Won its class at the Amelia Island concours in March 2014. Present at Goodwood for the 2014 Festival of Speed. Back on display in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum May 2015, in June 2016, and in January 2019.
Driven by: Gordon Johncock, Lee Brayton and Mike Hiss. First race: Texas World Speedway (R1), 7 Apr 1973. Total of 15 recorded races.
New to Leader Card Racers in time for the 1973 Indy 500 where it was Mike Mosley's #98 Leader Card entry. Raced by Mosley at Pocono and at Ontario, and then at the late-season races. Presumably his car at Ontario in March 1974, after which he used a new 1974 Eagle, and this 1972 Eagle was not seen again in 1974. After the 1974 car was wrecked, this car reappeared for Steve Krisiloff at Ontario in March 1975 as the #98 entry, then for George Snider as the #97 at three more races. Taken to the 1976 Indy 500 as a backup and qualified by Tom Bigelow, and may have been used by Bigelow at some short track races that year as the #24 entry. Although Leader Card now had two 1974 Eagles, this old 1972 car was present at the Indy 500 again in 1977 as the #23 entry but was crashed heavily in practice on 16 May by Gary Irwin and "damaged extensively". Repaired and then acquired by Warner Hodgdon, who had sponsored Mike Hiss in Leader Card's '74 car in 1976. Retained by Hodgdon until his death in 2013, and acquired from the estate by Jeff Urwin (New York, NY). The car was inspected at GE Autosport's shop at Indianapolis in November 2014 by Jacques Dresang, who found traces of Leader Card livery and USAC stickers that tied it to Gary Irwin's 1977 Indy 500 entry.
Driven by: Mike Mosley, Steve Krisiloff, George Snider, Tom Bigelow and Gary Irvin. First race: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (R4), 30 May 1973. Total of 17 recorded races.
New to Patrick Racing for 1973 and identified as their #60 STP entry at the 1973 Indy 500 for Graham McRae. Then became Wally Dallenbach's #40 car after the Indy 500, winning at Milwaukee and Ontario. Sold to Richard Beith (Danville, CA) for 1974 and entered as the #18 American Kids Racer car for Steve Krisiloff and Bill Simpson. Returned in 1975 for George Follmer, now as the #28, but only at Ontario and Indy. Leased from Beith by Warner Hodgdon (San Bernardino, CA) for 1976 and raced by Billy Scott at the Indy 500 before returning to Beith for three more seasons, appearing mainly at the 500-mile races at Ontario and Indianapolis. Retained by Beith until sold to Chuck Haines (St Louis, MO) in October 2005. Haines advertised it in early 2006 still in Beith's American Kids livery. Bought from Haines by Aaron Lewis (Cessnock, NSW, Australia) in September 2008 and restored for him by Walter Goodwin between 2008 and 2011 to McRae's 1973 livery. Ran at the vintage demonstration at the Indy 500 in 2011 and 2012 and then on display at the Riverside International Automotive Museum. Sold at the RM Auctions sale at Monterey in August 2014 to Milton Verret (Austin, TX), but bought back by Lewis in 2018. Sold to Carlos de Quesada (Tampa, FL) at Indy in May 2019.
Driven by: Graham McRae, Swede Savage, Wally Dallenbach, Steve Krisiloff, Bill Simpson, George Follmer, Billy Scott, Jim McElreath, John Martin and Roger Mears. First race: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (R4), 30 May 1973. Total of 22 recorded races.
One of two cars invoiced to Norris Industries, the sponsor of Champ Carr Enterprises, owned by Fred Carillo. This is believed to be the #35 car entered for John Mahler, who also had backing from Richard Deutsch of Harbor Oil. However, Mahler was dropped from the team just before Carillo tried to disguise the team's other main entry, the #34 car, as the #31 backup, resulting in both being disqualified. Jim McElreath then drove this #35 car at the Indy 500. Photographs indicate this car was later used by Sam Posey at Pocono, and by McElreath at Ontario. Subsequent history unknown.
Driven by: Jim McElreath, John Mahler and Sam Posey. First race: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (R4), 30 May 1973. Total of 4 recorded races.
New to Leader Card Racers in time for the TWS race at the start of 1973. Raced by Mike Mosley as the #98 Leader Card entry. Then taken to the Indy 500 as a backup, renumbered #97, and qualified by Rick Muther. It was then Mosley's short track car, and raced by Muther at Pocono and by Johnny Parsons Jr at Ontario and at the late-season races. Presumably for Parsons again at Ontario in March 1974. Then Mosley's short track car when he wasn't using his new 1974 Eagle. Signs of repairs to the left side of this car allow it to be identified from 1975 onwards. It was raced by George Snider as the #97 at Ontario at the start of 1975, then by Steve Krisiloff in the Indy 500 as the #98 and later in the season as the #98 and then the #10. For 1976, the car was sold to Patrick Santello and was his #65 City of Syracuse or S&M Electric entry that season for Larry Dickson and Lee Kunzman. Then to Gus and Richard Hoffman (Milford, OH) of Hoffman Racing for 1977 and entered for Jerry Grant and later Joe Saldana as the #69. Driven again by Saldana in 1978 and 1979. Also appeared once for Bob Frey in 1980. Reappeared briefly in 1982 when it was entered by George T. Smith's GTS Racing as the #86 Empress Traveler for Al Loquasto. Sold by Smith to Chuck Haines (St Louis, MO) who sold it to Bob Colllings (Boston, MA) in April 1985. Retained by Collings and now forms part of the auto collection in The Collings Foundation (Stow, MA). Still on display in the museum in June 2021.
Driven by: Mike Mosley, Rick Muther, Johnny Parsons Jr, George Snider, Steve Krisiloff, Larry Dickson, Jim McElreath, Lee Kunzman, Jerry Grant, Joe Saldana, Tim Richmond, Al Loquasto and Bob Frey. First race: Texas World Speedway (R1), 7 Apr 1973. Total of 54 recorded races.
AAR sales records show that this is one of two cars sold new to Bob Fletcher. It is likely to be 'the second Fletcher Racing car' below, which first appeared at Indianapolis in May 1973.
New to Roy Woods Racing and entered for David Hobbs at the 1973 Indy 500 as the #73 Carling Black Label entry. For Hobbs at Pocono then John Mahler at Ontario that season. Woods then lost the Carling sponsorship but returned to Indy in 1974 with the Eagle as the #69 entry for Mahler who failed to qualify. Next seen in 1976 when owned by by Gus and Richard Hoffman (Milford, OH) of Hoffman Auto Racing and entered as the #69 American Financial Spl for Larry Cannon at various races that season. Returned to Indy in 1977, again as Hoffman's #69 entry, but crashed by Jerry Grant in practice and "extensive damaged". Reworked by the Hoffman team as their 1979 #79 'Spyder' Indy car and raced by Dick Ferguson, Joe Saldana and others. Crashed heavily by Bob Frey in practice at Pocono 1980 and effectively destroyed.
Driven by: David Hobbs, John Mahler, Larry Cannon, Jerry Grant, Dick Ferguson, Cliff Hucul, Joe Saldana and Bob Frey. First race: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (R4), 30 May 1973. Total of 15 recorded races.
Bought by Firestone for Lloyd Ruby and his chief crew Mike Devin to run as part of Gene White Racing in 1973, but Firestone withdrew support from White before the end of 1972. Ruby and Devin were passed initially to Bruce Crower and then to Vel's Parnelli Racing before they were put together with Mike Slater, President of Commander Motor Homes, in time for the 1973 Indy 500. Ruby raced 7224 as the #18 Commander Motor Homes entry in 1973, but wrecked the car at Ontario in September. Devin acquired a new monocoque numbered 7228 and built that up as the team's race car. The 7224 monocoque was repaired and sold with the complete 7228 car to Anastassios "Tassi" Vatis, a Greek shipping tycoon and veteran Indy car owner. The complete 7228 was run by Vatis's faithful chief mechanic Bill Finley for Johnny Parsons Jr in 1975, but for 1976 the team had a "new" car built on an "unused" chassis. As this car carries the 7224 plate today, it must be the rebuilt Ontario chassis. It was raced by Parsons as the #93 Ayr-Way/Vatis entry in 1976, then for 1977, it was heavily modified by Finley, with narrower sidepods, presumably using the 1976-spec 20-gallon fuel tanks, and main radiators repositioned to the rear of the tub. It was again the #93 Vatis entry at the 1977 Indy 500, where Steve Krisiloff crashed on his qualifying run. As far as can be determined, it was Bill Vukovich's #93 Vatis entry in 1978, when he was unable to find enough speed to qualify. John Mahler (Bettendorf, Iowa) then bought the Vatis team and it is believed that 7224 was the #92T car that Mahler raced at the 1979 Indy 500 after his intended #92 race car was bumped. Sold to motorcycle speed record holder Don Vesco (San Diego, CA) and raced at Willow Springs in 1981. Then to Ron Blondel (Ontario, CA), but the car was in pieces during his ownership. To Floyd Sable (Anaheim, CA) in 2003, and restored between 2004 and 2009 to Mahler's 1979 specification. Run at the Indy 500 parades in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Sold to Mick Anderson (New Richmond, Wisconsin) in July 2014.
Driven by: Lloyd Ruby, Johnny Parsons Jr, Steve Krisiloff, Billy Vukovich, Al Loquasto and John Mahler. First race: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (R4), 30 May 1973. Total of 25 recorded races.
To Roger Penske for Mark Donohue to drive as the #66 Sunoco DX car at the three 500 mile races in 1973. It was then driven by Gary Bettenhausen as the #5 Sunoco DX car in place of his usual McLaren M16C at Phoenix in November 1973 and again at Phoenix in March 1974. For 1976, the car was sold to Bill Simpson and raced as his #38 Nikon car until September that year when it was sold to Arthur E. 'Art' Sugai (Ontario, OR) and became the #90 Eastside Café car for Rick Mears. Raced by Mears, Steve Krisiloff and Bubby Jones in 1977. Sold to collector/dealer Chuck Haines (St Louis, MO) in May 1980 and retained by him until purchased by Rick and Alison Dresang (Hartford, WI) in August 2004. Fully restored, and maintained by Kettle Moraine Preservation & Restoration. On display at the International Motor Racing Research Centre (Watkins Glen, NY) in July 2014. On display at the Historic Indycar Exhibition in May 2016.
Driven by: Mark Donohue, Gary Bettenhausen, Bill Simpson, Rick Mears, Steve Krisiloff and Bubby Jones. First race: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (R4), 30 May 1973. Total of 18 recorded races.
According to AAR records, this car was originally sold to Doug Champlin & Fred Carillo of Champ Carr, Inc. This is believed to be the team's #34 car for Sam Posey but he was bumped. The team then tried to disguise the #34 car as the team's backup #31 entry to allow Posey another try at qualifying, but the deception was spotted by IMS technical supervisor Frank DelRoy and both the #34 and #31 entries were disqualified. Photographs indicate this car was then used as a short track car for Jim McElreath in 1973. Carillo retained the car during 1974, but it was not seen. In early 1975, it was repainted as Carillo's "Spirit of Orange Country" entry, but finance could not be found, and it was sold to Alex Morales, who entered it as the #78 Alex Foods car for Jimmy Caruthers. Assumed to be the #78 car for the rest of 1975 and then the #78 Alex Foods second team car for Bobby Olivero in 1976. The team acquired a pair of new Lightnings for 1977 and the Eagle was not seen again. Unknown after November 1976. Nothing more is known until it was sold by Barry Green via Walter Goodwin to Kenneth Hodge (Ocala, FL) in 2004 to be fitted with a complete spare drive train that Ken had acquired from Smokey Yunick's 1973 Chevrolet turbo engine project. Still with Ken in March 2016. With Chuck Haines in August 2018.
Driven by: Sam Posey, Jim McElreath, Jimmy Caruthers, Bill Puterbaugh and Bobby Olivero. First race: Milwaukee Mile (R5), 10 Jun 1973. Total of 21 recorded races.
AAR records show this car being sold to Patrick Racing. Its race history is unknown but it may well be 'the Steve Krisiloff 1974 Indy 500 car',
Supplied as a monocoque to Lloyd Ruby and his chief crew Mike Devin after Ruby had crashed chassis 7224 at Ontario. Chassis 7228 was built up using the components of 7224 and raced as Ruby's #18 Commander Motor Homes for the rest of the season. Retained in 1974 as a backup car to Ruby's new 1974 Eagle, but actually raced more often than the '74 that season. Sold to Anastassios "Tassi" Vatis, a Greek shipping tycoon and veteran Indy car owner, and run by Vatis's faithful chief mechanic Bill Finley for Johnny Parsons Jr in 1975. In 1976, the team had a "new" car built on an "unused" chassis, presumably 7224 as it still carries the 7224 plate today. However, 7228 remained the main car, Parsons' #93 Ayr-Way/Vatis entry in 1976 and 1977. In 1978, 7228 was modified with straight sidepods and radiators repositioned to the rear of the tub, matching the specification of 7224, after which they are hard to tell apart. John Mahler (Bettendorf, Iowa) bought the Vatis team in November 1978 with the support of longtime backer Richard Deutsch, and it is believed that 7228 was the #92 car that Mahler had bumped after qualifying. Retained as a backup in 1980 and 1981, then sold to Rick DeLorto (Wood Dale, IL) who attempted to qualify for several CART races in 1982. Then to John Griffith (Chicago, IL) 1983, then Steve Burgner (Chicago, IL) 1984, after which it was sold to Mountain View Motorsport Park in Colorado. It then passed to a dealer in Connecticut, from which Eric Camiel (Danbury, CT) bought it in 1991. Then unknown until acquired from Chuck Haines (St Louis, MO) by John Mueller (Fresno, CA) in late 2005. Chuck is believed to have got it from Lilo Zicron (Burbank, CA). Extensively rebuilt by Mueller to standard specification. Sold to Rick and Alison Dresang (Hartford, WI) in May 2016.
Driven by: Lloyd Ruby, Johnny Parsons Jr, Steve Krisiloff, Al Loquasto, Gary Irvin, Spike Gehlhausen, John Mahler, Chip Mead, Juan Carlos Bolaños, Frank Weiss and Richard DeLorto. First race: Michigan International Speedway (R12), 16 Sep 1973. Total of 36 recorded races.
The Fletcher Racing Eagles
Bob Fletcher bought a pair of 1972 Eagles for the start of the 1973 season, which has made it difficult to determine which car was which. One car appeared at Texas World Speedway in early April and the other appeared in time for the Indy 500 a month later, so it is likely that the lower numbered car arrived first.
One of two 1972 Eagles bought by Robert L. 'Bob' Fletcher and chief crew Clint Brawner for Fletcher's new Cobre Firestone team in 1973. This car arrived in time for the race at Texas World Speedway at the start of April so is likely to be chassis 7214. Entered at TWS as the #21 entry for Jimmy Caruthers, and it is assumed that this was the same #21 entered for him at Trenton and at the Indy 500. After Art Pollard's accident in the sister car, this was Fletcher's only remaining 1972 car and it was driven by Caruthers for the rest of 1973, then by Duane "Pancho" Carter at the Indy 500 in 1974. It is likely to be the car raced by Carter later in the season but he might have been allocated one of the team's 1974 Eagles. The car was renumbered #55 for 1975 and entered for Lee Kunzman at Ontario, where he finished third in his heat and fourth in the final. Entered also at the Indy 500 but Kunzman did not qualify. The car was not needed again but remained with the team as a show car. It was photographed in Frosty Acres livery, which cannot be earlier than 1979. Subsequent history unknown.
Driven by: Jimmy Caruthers, Duane "Pancho" Carter and Lee Kunzman. First race: Texas World Speedway (R1), 7 Apr 1973. Total of 23 recorded races.
One of two 1972 Eagles bought by Robert L. 'Bob' Fletcher and chief crew Clint Brawner for Fletcher's new Cobre Firestone team in 1973. As the second car to arrive, this is more likely to be chassis 7222. This car was the #64 Cobre Firestone entry at the Indy 500 for Art Pollard, and the veteran driver was amongst the quickest drivers early in the month, posting 192.7 mph on 5 May, the seventh best time so far, and was then quickest the next day at 193.923 mph. He was quickest again the following Friday, the last day before qualifying began. At 9:37 am on Saturday 12 May, Pollard hit the wall coming out of Turn 1, spun through the short chute grass, overturned and ended up back upright in Turn 2. The car was completely demolished in the accident. Pollard suffered burns on his hands, face and neck and was rushed to hospital, where he died an hour later due to flame inhalation.
Driven by: Art Pollard. First appearance: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (R4), 30 May 1973.
The mystery Patrick Racing car
Patrick Racing had started 1973 with three 1972-style Eagles, and then bought two 1973 Eagles later in the season. By the time the team got to the 1974 Indy 500, they had also acquired two 1974 Eagles but the three 1972 Eagles were all gone, one destroyed and two sold. Patrick Racing started the month with Gordon Johncock (#20) and Wally Dallenbach (#40) in the new 1974 Eagles, but Johncock damaged his, so one of the 1973 cars was bought to Indy for him to race. The other 1973 car was entered for Steve Krislioff (#60) but his qualifying picture shows him in a 1972 Eagle, not the '73 car. So which 1972 car could this be? The most likely answer is that this was 7227, the car listed in AAR records as having gone to Patrick Racing. If so, it is likely that this car was used at some point during 1973, but no photographs have yet been found of it being used. Krislioff also raced this car at Milwaukee in June, after which he was allocated the team's newer 1973 Eagle. This is believed to be the car that STP donated to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum in April 1977, when STP decide to donate its 15 show cars to different museums. This car was donated as being Gordie Johncock's 1973 Indy 500 winner, and placed in the IMS Museum, but was later admitted to be a replica. It remained in the museum until June 2010 when it was replaced by the real car. Still in the museum's collection in November 2021.
Driven by: Steve Krisiloff. First race: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (R6), 26 May 1974. Total of 2 recorded races.
The “continuation cars”
As well as the cars built and sold by AAR in 1972 and 1973, two more monocoques were constructed that were not needed. These were assembled by John McCormack at AAR in 1976 using other NOS components such as complete front suspension, brake and clutch cylinders and reservoirs, complete steering, fuel cells and various sub assemblies. They remained at AAR until 1986 when Dan Gurney and Philippe de Lespinay struck a deal to build them up using engines and gearboxes still at AAR. Stewart Van Dyne, who now owns the tooling and rights to the Drake-Offy engines, repaired and assembled the special AAR "twin-pump" engines. Gearbox assembly was by Mike Lewis and Butch Wilson, and rear suspension by John Collins. John Mueller of Entrepreneur's Motor Sports (Fresno, CA) fitted bodywork, attached the engines and driveshafts, and took care of upholstery and other details as the cars were completed. The liveries used for the two cars follow those of the main team cars in 1972: Bobby Unser's 7203 and Jerry Grant's 7205. Philippe de Lespinay's car, 7229, is in the Olsonite livery of 7203, and Gurney's 7230 uses the Mystery Eagle livery of 7205. Both engines used in 7229 and 7230 had been used in 7203 and 7205 respectively at races in 1972. After a long project, the two cars were delivered in 2008 and 2010.
Chassis '7229' was built up for Philippe de Lespinay (Newport Beach, CA) using parts from the 1972 #6 Olsonite Eagle raced at the 1972 Indy 500 by Bobby Unser. It was delivered to the Riverside International Automobile Museum (RIAM) on 1 July 2010 where it has been on display. The car was run for the first time at Auto Club Speedway in June 2012, where Bobby Unser drove it. On display in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum in May 2015. Also at the IMS Museum in August 2018 as part of the Unbelievable Unser Expo. Bought from De Lespinay by Ted Woerner (Carmel, IN) and Mike Lashmett in January 2022.
Chassis '7230' was built up using parts from the 1972 #48 Mystery Eagle raced at the 1972 Indy 500 by Jerry Grant. It was completed in 2008 and presented to Dan Gurney for his All American Racers Museum in Santa Ana, California in February 2008. On display at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion's Tribute to Dan Gurney in August 2010. According to Jacques Dresang, Gurney still has the car in 2016. On display in the Revs Institute (Naples, FL) in Feb 2017. On display at the "Vintage Motor Racing exhibit" at Lyon Air Museum in Santa Ana, CA from July to September 2018. In the AAR Museum in November 2021.
Sources and acknowledgements
The histories below start from the basis of AAR sales records, to which have been added the car history information from the Hungness Yearbooks, not all of which is entirely correct. Then many hundreds of photographs have been carefully studied to find the distinguishing features of the individual cars. Finally, we have added information kindly provided from a host of past and present owners.
Particular thanks are due to Simmo Iskül, and to our fellow researchers Michael Ferner, 'gbl' and Luis Mateus. Many owners have also contributed, notably Jacques Dresang, who has maintained an “underground” register of these cars and has generously shared his knowledge, Bill Wiswedel, Philippe de Lespinay, Chuck Haines, Kathy Weida at AAR, Floyd Sable, Aaron Lewis, Ken Hodge, Jerry Sullivan, Bob Featherly and Greg Scott.
If you can add anything to our understanding of these cars, please contact Allen Brown (email@example.com).
These histories last updated on .