California 500 Qualification Heat 2

Ontario Motor Speedway, 26 Aug 1973

1 Johnny Rutherford McLaren M16C [5] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#7 Gulf [McLaren Cars] (see note 1)
40 0h 36m 32.960s
2 Gary Bettenhausen McLaren M16C [3] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#5 Sunoco DX [Roger Penske] (see note 2)
40 Finished
3 Lee Kunzman Eagle 73 [7305] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#55 Cobre Firestone [Robert L. 'Bob' Fletcher]
(see note 3)
40 Finished
4 Al Unser Parnelli VPJ-2 [101?] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#4 Viceroy [Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing]
40 Finished
5 Mike Mosley Eagle 72 [7218] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#98 Lodestar [Agajanian/Leader Card]
(see note 4)
40 Finished
6 Steve Krisiloff Kingfish 73 ['1'] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#24 The Pig Rig [Grant King Racers]
(see note 5)
40 Finished
7 Bentley Warren Eagle 72 [7215] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#16 US Air Force [Lindsey Hopkins/Duane Glasgow]
(see note 6)
39 Flagged
8 Lloyd Ruby Eagle 72 [7224] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#18 Commander Motor Homes [Mike Slater]
(see note 7)
38 Flagged
9 Johnny Parsons Jr Eagle 72 [7221] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#97 Lodestar [Agajanian/Leader Card]
(see note 8)
38 Flagged
10 Tom Sneva Eagle 68 [404] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#10 Lodestar [Agajanian/Leader Card]
(see note 9)
37 Flagged
11 Dick Simon Eagle 72 [7212] - Foyt-Ford 159 ci quad cam turbo V8
#44 Travelodge [Dick Simon] (see note 10)
30 Magneto
12 Mario Andretti Parnelli VPJ-2 [102?] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#11 Viceroy [Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing]
28 Broken shift link
13 David Hobbs Eagle 72 [7223] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#73 Carling [Roy Woods Racing] (see note 11)
18 blew tyre (did not qualify for main race)
14 Bill Simpson Gerhardt 68 - Offy 159 ci turbo
#99 Hunt Magneto [Joe Hunt] (see note 12)
0 Broken shift (did not qualify for main race)
1 Johnny Rutherford McLaren M16C [5] - Offy 159 ci turbo
2 Mario Andretti Parnelli VPJ-2 [102?] - Offy 159 ci turbo
3 Gary Bettenhausen McLaren M16C [3] - Offy 159 ci turbo
4 Al Unser Parnelli VPJ-2 [101?] - Offy 159 ci turbo
5 Lee Kunzman Eagle 73 [7305] - Offy 159 ci turbo
6 Mike Mosley Eagle 72 [7218] - Offy 159 ci turbo
7 Dick Simon Eagle 72 [7212] - Foyt-Ford 159 ci quad cam turbo V8
8 Steve Krisiloff Kingfish 73 ['1'] - Offy 159 ci turbo
9 Bentley Warren Eagle 72 [7215] - Offy 159 ci turbo
10 Johnny Parsons Jr Eagle 72 [7221] - Offy 159 ci turbo
11 Lloyd Ruby Eagle 72 [7224] - Offy 159 ci turbo
12 David Hobbs Eagle 72 [7223] - Offy 159 ci turbo
13 Bill Simpson Gerhardt 68 - Offy 159 ci turbo
14 Tom Sneva Eagle 68 [404] - Offy 159 ci turbo

Notes on the cars:

  1. McLaren M16C [5] (Johnny Rutherford): New for McLaren Cars to be driven by Johnny Rutherford as the #7 Gulf entry in 1973. He used this car at the Indy 500 but may have used M16C/2 (or even M16C/4) at other races that season. Raced again by Rutherford in 1974 as the #3 car, winning the Indy 500, but he used another M16C at short track events that year. This car then became Rutherford's short-track car in 1975 and 1976. Sold to George Walther to be Salt Walther #33 backup car at Indy in 1977 but how it was used that season is unknown. Entered by Walther at the 1978 Indy 500 as the #34 for Graham McRae but he was bumped. Sold by Walther to Rick Carroll (Jensen Beach, FL) and restored. Sold by Carroll's estate in 1990 via Sotherby's Palm Springs Auction for $495,000 to Patrick S. Ryan (Montgomery, AL). Loaned by Ryan to the IMS Museum but also attended various concours events while owned by Ryan. Repainted by Paintergeek Paintworks (Indianapolis, IN) in May 2013. Sold by Ryan through RM Auctions at Monterey in August 2013 for $3,250,000 to web entrepreneur Bill Oesterle (Indianapolis, IN).
  2. McLaren M16C [3] (Gary Bettenhausen): To Roger Penske for Gary Bettenhausen to drive during the 1973 season as the #5 Sunoco DX car, and used by him at all races that season. Entered for Mike Hiss as the #68 Norton Spirit entry at Indianapolis and Michigan in 1974. Then the #16 CAM2 Motor Oil entry for Bobby Allison at four long-track races in 1975. Then raced by Mario Andretti for Penske as the #6 in 1976 at the Indy 500 and Pocono. Sold to Bill Simpson later in 1976 (still as #6) together with M16C/4. It then became part of Teddy Yip's Theodore Racing team in 1977 as their #39 but was crashed very heavily by Clay Regazzoni in Indy practice. The wrecked car was cubed by Yip.
  3. Eagle 73 [7305] (Lee Kunzman): Bob Fletcher team had owned a pair of 1972 Eagles but after Art Pollard's fatal accident at Indy in 1973, Fletcher acquired a new 1973 car which was entered as the #55 Cobre Firestone entry for Lee Kunzman from Ontario in August onwards. Used for the rest of 1973 but then crashed heavily in testing at Ontario in December when Kunzman hit the wall and needed to be taken to hospital. The 1973 Eagle was not seen in Fletcher stable after this and is presumed to have been destroyed.
  4. Eagle 72 [7218] (Mike Mosley): 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.
  5. Kingfish 73 ['1'] (Steve Krisiloff): Built by Grant King for Steve Krisiloff to drive in 1973 as the #24 Grant King Racing entry, acquiring many different sponsors during the season. This car started the season red but was repainted blue-and-yellow after qualifying for the Indy 500. Retained the number #24 for 1974 but now driven by Tom Sneva, scoring a fifth place finish at Michigan in September 1974. Retained by the team for 1975 and raced by Bentley Warren at the Indy 500 but crashed in the rain and was very badly damaged. Parts of the car were used to build up a new chassis and what was left of the car remained with its 1973 sister car until both were sold as a project on race-cars.com in 2009 to Rick and Jacques Dresang (Hartford, WI).
  6. Eagle 72 [7215] (Bentley Warren): 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.
  7. Eagle 72 [7224] (Lloyd Ruby): 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.
  8. Eagle 72 [7221] (Johnny Parsons Jr): 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).
  9. Eagle 68 [404] (Tom Sneva): Dan Gurney's #48 Olsonite entry at the 1968 Indy 500 was a new 1968 Eagle fitted with the Gurney Weslake Ford 303 ci stock block V8 engine. This car was highly successful on road courses later in the year, Gurney winning at IRP, twice at Mosport and at Riverside. The car was sold to Marshall Robbins of Jim Robbins Co. for 1969 and crew chief Jim Spangler fitted a Ford turbo for Lee Roy Yarbrough to drive at the Indy 500. Robbins and Spangler brought the car back to the Speedway for 1970 for Yarbrough to drive. It was last seen with the Robbins team at Ontario in 1970. This was later identified by Carl Hungness as the car raced by Mike Mosley at the 1972 Indy 500, but when the car moved from Robbins to the AJ Watson/Leader Card team is unclear. Mosley crashed this car at the 1972 Indy 500, and was again injured. Photographs of the car at this race show several diagonal rows of rivets at the back of the tub on the left, indicating a major repair. This pattern of rivets then identifies the car in pictures at Ontario in 1972, at Ontario in 1973, and in the present day. After the 1972 Indy 500, Rick Muther used the team's other 1968 Eagle until Mosley again returned from his injuries in September, and this ex-Robbins car was ready for him to drive at the Ontario 500. The team's other 1968 Eagle was donated to the IMS Museum in January 1973, leaving this car to act as a backup to Leader Card Racer's new 1972/73 Eagles. It was raced by Mosley again at Trenton in early 1973, by Johnny Parsons Jr at Milwaukee and by Tom Sneva at Ontario. That was the last time it was seen on a racetrack, but in 1978 it was sitting in Jim Hurtubise's garage at the Indy 500 wearing #54 with its rear wing acting as a drinks table. By 1995, it had been restored to 1972 livery and was hanging in the roof of AJ Watson's shop. Since then, the car has been retained by the Wilke family.
  10. Eagle 72 [7212] (Dick Simon): 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.
  11. Eagle 72 [7223] (David Hobbs): 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.
  12. Gerhardt 68 (Bill Simpson): Don Gerhardt had a new #11 Thermo King Auto Air Cond entry from the start of 1968 and it is assumed that this Gerhardt-Offy turbo was new at Hanford in April, replacing the #16 car used in 1967. Art Pollard continued as driver for the opening races of the season but during practice for the Indy 500, he was poached by the Granatelli STP team to drive one of the new Lotus 56s. Gary Bettenhausen took over the Gerhardt drive for the Indy 500 and for the rest of the season. Bettenhausen drove the '68 car again at the start of 1969 before the team's new wedge design was ready. The '68 car was then driven by Bruce Walkup as the team's #16 entry at the 1969 Indy 500, by which time the car had a lower, flatter nose cone and had been converted to outboard front suspension. Bettenhausen raced it again at Langhorne in June and Trenton in July, but at the latter race it was crashed heavily. Its movements over the next couple of years are not yet understood, but in late 1971 or early 1972, it became #99 Joe Hunt Magneto Spl entered by Joseph B. Hunt (Los Angeles, CA). It was driven in practice by Bob Harkey and Jerry Karl at the 1972 Indy 500 in highly modified form, but did not attempt to qualify. It continued to evolve even further over the next three seasons, and was the car that Harkey tried to qualify for the California 500 as late as 1975. The two Gerhardts were retained by Hunt until he died in June 1985, and about a year later they were sold by his widow Mary to Jack Thompson (Doylestown, PA).


Note that the identification of individual cars in these results is based on the material presented elsewhere in this site and may in some cases contradict the organisers' published results.

The foundation for this research is the work done by the late Phil Harms collating the results of all AAA, USAC and CART races, including the period covered here. His data was refined by Michael Ferner who added more information before making it available to OldRacingCars.com. Since the start of the USAC project on OldRacingCars.com in 2004, a wealth of further information has been gleaned from the Carl Hungness and Donald Davidson Yearbooks, Formula and On Track magazines, USAC News, National Speed Sport News and other published sources. Gerry Measures has also provided much information from his files as have others on TNF and Trackforum. Since 2009, the work of Simmo Iskül and others identifying cars from period photographs has has moved this research forward significantly.

All comments, clarifications, corrections and additions are most welcome. Please email Allen (allen@oldracingcars.com) if you can help in any way with our research.