OldRacingCars.com

California 500 Qualification Heat 2

Ontario Motor Speedway, 3 Mar 1974

ResultsLapsTime/Speed
1 Johnny Rutherford McLaren M16C [5] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#3 McLaren Cars (see note 1)
40 0h 34m 44.860s
2 Jimmy Caruthers Eagle 74 - Offy 159 ci turbo
#21 Cobre Firestone [Robert L. 'Bob' Fletcher]
(see note 2)
40 Finished
3 Steve Krisiloff Eagle 72 [7219] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#18 American Kids Racer [Richard Beith]
(see note 3)
40 Finished
4 Joe Leonard Eagle 74 - Offy 159 ci turbo
#16 Vel's Parnelli Ford
40 Finished
5 Al Unser Eagle 74 - Offy 159 ci turbo
#15 Viceroy [Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing]
(see note 4)
39 Out of fuel
6 John Martin McLaren M16B [3] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#89 Unsponsored [John Martin] (see note 5)
39 Flagged
7 Jerry Karl Eagle 72 [7215] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#42 Hopkins Buick [Lindsey Hopkins]
(see note 6)
39 Flagged
8 David "Salt" Walther McLaren M16C [2] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#77 Dayton-Walther [George Walther]
(see note 7)
39 Flagged
9 Mario Andretti Parnelli VPJ-2 [102?] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#5 Viceroy [Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing]
37 Out of fuel
10 George Snider Atlanta 72 - Foyt-Ford 159 ci quad cam turbo V8
#82 Greer [J.H. Greer] (see note 8)
37 Out of fuel
11 Gary Bettenhausen McLaren M16C [1] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#8 Penske Products (see note 9)
29 Loose wing flap
12 John Cannon Mongoose 71 - Ford 159 ci quad cam turbo V8
#53 Minnesota Serendipity [Pat O'Reilly]
(see note 10)
18 Engine
13 Jerry Grant Eagle 74 - Offy 159 ci turbo
#55 Cobre Firestone [Robert L. 'Bob' Fletcher]
(see note 11)
14 Magneto
14 Bill Simpson Brabham BT25 [2] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#92 Unsponsored [Bill Simpson] (see note 12)
10 Smoking
15 Bob Harkey Cicada 72 - Offy 159 ci turbo
#93 Cicada Racing (see note 13)
3 Poor handling
Qualifying
1 Johnny Rutherford McLaren M16C [5] - Offy 159 ci turbo
2 Gary Bettenhausen McLaren M16C [1] - Offy 159 ci turbo
3 Mario Andretti Parnelli VPJ-2 [102?] - Offy 159 ci turbo
4 Al Unser Eagle 74 - Offy 159 ci turbo
5 Jerry Grant Eagle 74 - Offy 159 ci turbo
6 Steve Krisiloff Eagle 72 [7219] - Offy 159 ci turbo
7 Jimmy Caruthers Eagle 74 - Offy 159 ci turbo
8 Jerry Karl Eagle 72 [7215] - Offy 159 ci turbo
9 David "Salt" Walther McLaren M16C [2] - Offy 159 ci turbo
10 George Snider Atlanta 72 - Foyt-Ford 159 ci quad cam turbo V8
11 Joe Leonard Eagle 74 - Offy 159 ci turbo
12 John Martin McLaren M16B [3] - Offy 159 ci turbo
13 Bill Simpson Brabham BT25 [2] - Offy 159 ci turbo
14 John Cannon Mongoose 71 - Ford 159 ci quad cam turbo V8
15 Bob Harkey Cicada 72 - 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. Eagle 74 (Jimmy Caruthers): New to Robert L. 'Bob' Fletcher's Cobre Firestone team and entered as the #21 car for Jimmy Caruthers in 1974. Then became the #11 entry for Duane Carter in 1975. Unknown in 1976 but presumably a backup car for Bobby Unser's regular #3 car. Sold to Carl Gehlhausen and entered for Spike Gehlhausen as the #19 PV Corp car at four races towards the end of the 1977 season and then through the 1978 season, until it was crashed heavily at Michigan in September. Gehlhausen then bought Pat Santello's '74 Eagle to replace it. The Michigan wreck is believed to have been repaired for 1979, and may be the car sold to Todd Gibson for 1980.
  3. Eagle 72 [7219] (Steve Krisiloff): 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.
  4. Eagle 74 (Al Unser): Al Unser started the 1974 season in one of two second-hand 1973 Eagles acquired by Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing, before moving to a new 1974 Eagle in time for the Phoenix 150 in mid-March. The team bought three or four 1974 Eagles, so Unser may have used more than one Eagle during the 1974 season, but for now, it is assumed all his results were in the same car. Vel's Parnelli retained the same Eagles for 1975, but the "super team" were in decline, and only appeared at the three 500-mile races. Again, it is assumed here that Unser used the same car as in 1974. The team was disbanded in July, when when it returned, it focused on the new Parnelli VPJ6. The subsequent history of the Unser Eagle is unknown.
  5. McLaren M16B [3] (John Martin): McLaren Cars 1972 for Gordy Johncock (#24) and 'wrecked' at Ontario. Repaired and sold to John Martin 1973 (#89) and 1974 and 1975. Wrecked at Milwaukee June 1975 and tub "thrown in dumpster". Rebuilt using a M16A monocoque bought from Lindsey Hopkins and raced to the end of 1975. This M16B/A was acquired by Danny Jones and Roy Dickinson in 1976 and rebuilt for the 1977 Indy 500. They were then joined by Bill Freeman Racing, appearing on the 1977 Indy 500 entry list as #30 Caesars Palace entry. Bob Harkey failed to qualify the car at Indy and it was raced by Johnny Parsons Jr later in the 1977 season. To Fred Ruth for 1978 and qualified for the Indy 500 by Jerry Sneva in 1978 as the #30 Smock Material entry. Ruth was joined and at some point as co-owner by Marv Schmidt. Returned again in 1979, entered by Thunder Racing and with Molly Mate sponsorship. It was next seen in 1981 when John Martin qualified at the Indy 500 but was bumped. Cliff Hucul ran it later that year as the #57. Then unknown until 1991 when it was owned by Chuck Haines (St Louis, MO) and still in Hucul livery.
  6. Eagle 72 [7215] (Jerry Karl): 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. McLaren M16C [2] (David "Salt" Walther): New for McLaren Cars at the start of 1973, and raced by Johnny Rutherford at the early short-track events. Probably used by him at short track events later in the year. Also driven by Peter Revson as the #15 Gulf entry at Pocono and Ontario in 1973. To George Walther for Salt Walther to drive at the Indy 500 in 1974 as the #77 Dayton Walther Spl, but Walther then acquired M16C/6, retaining M16C/2 as his #33 spare car at the Indy 500 in 1975 and 1976. It was raced by Bob Harkey at Indy 1975 and by David Hobbs at Indy in 1976. How it was used during the rest of the 1975 and 1976 season is unclear but it was quite possibly used as a short-track car. Relegated to the team's third car for 1977 when Walther acquired M16C/5 from McLaren. Sold with M16C/6 to Jerry Karl/William R. Compton Sr for 1978, converted to Chevrolet V8 power and entered by Tonco Trailer until 1981 but its exact usage is unclear. Sold to Chuck Haines (St Louis, MO) but had moved to Ron Rickard (San Diego, CA) by 1986 when he drove it at the Palm Springs historics. Sold to Tony Roberts and Duncan Fox (Auckland, New Zealand) in 1997 and used in historics with an aluminium 355 ci Chevrolet V8 from 1998 to 2000. Sold to the Mathews Collection still with its Chevrolet engine. From Mathews to Aaron Lewis (Cessnock, NSW, Australia) in 2009.
  8. Atlanta 72 (George Snider): New to AJ Foyt, and entered for the 1972 Indy 500 as the J.H. Greer #82 car, but did not arrive. The car was fitted with a Foyt-Ford V8 engine, and was entered at Indy a year later for Jim McElreath to drive, but he did not complete a qualifying attempt. It was brought out again in 1974, still as the #82 entry, and was driven by George Snider at Ontario Motor Speedway in March, at Phoenix two weeks later, and also at the Indy 500, where Snider qualified 13th but retired early. For 1975, the Atlanta was sold to Carroll Cheek (Bowling Green, Ohio), fitted with a Chevrolet engine, and entered in a couple of USAC races at Phoenix for Formula B racer "Butch" Harris (Houston, TX) to drive, Harris having driven Cheek's Supermodified racer. The car did not start a race, and it's unclear whether it even got to practice. In early 1977, it was sold to George R. Boyd (St Joseph, IL) and the Chevy engine was replaced by a Foyt-Ford acquired from Tom Frantz. Frantz was given the chance to qualify it at the 1977 Indy 500, but he spun during practice and Jerry Karl, Bob Harkey, and Mel Kenyon were all given a try in the car. It went well during the month but Kenyon was unable to rediscover that speed during his qualifying run. The car was retained by Boyd in his garage for over 40 years until his death in January 2018. Six months later it was sold to restorer John Mueller.
  9. McLaren M16C [1] (Gary Bettenhausen): New to Roger Penske for Bobby Allison to drive at the 1973 Indy 500 as the #12 Sunoco DX car. Sold to Roy Woods and appeared at Ontario in August/September 1973 as the #74 Carling entry for John Mahler, who crashed it in the race. It evidently returned to Penske and was rebuilt as the #8 entry for Gary Bettenhausen in 1974. Used by Mike Hiss after Bettenhausen was injured in a dirt race in July 1974. Taken over by Tom Sneva in 1975 as the #68 Norton Spirit entry but wrecked in Sneva's huge accident at Indy in 1975. Rebuilt later in the season and rejoined the Penske team to be a backup car for Sneva in 1976. Its last known appearance was at Michigan in July 1976. History then unknown until 2009 when it was part of the Harrah Collection at the National Automobile Museum (Reno, NV). Presumably it had been bought by Bill Harrah, founder of Harrah's Casinos. After Harah's death in November 1978 his 'Harrah’s Automobile Collection' was acquired by Holiday Inns and started to be broken up and auctioned in the mid-1980s. In response to ensuing outcry, Holiday Inns agreed to donate 175 cars and Harrah's research library to a new Harrah Automobile Foundation and this became the basis of the National Automobile Museum which opened in Reno, Nevada, in 1989. The car is in Sneva's 1977 red, white and blue Norton/Gould/CAM2 livery, suggesting it was used as a show car in 1977.
  10. Mongoose 71 (John Cannon): New for Lloyd Ruby in 1971 as the Gene White team's #12 car but "abandoned by Ruby after that year's Indy 500", presumably as it was the only year for some time that he had not led the race. Sold to Pat O'Reilly and entered as the #51 Minnesota Serendipity car in 1973 for Dee Jones, John Hubbard and Jigger Sirois. Returned in 1974 as the #53 for John Cannon but failed to qualify for the Indy 500. Raced later in 1974 by Jan Opperman and by Mel Cornett and appeared in 1975 for John Hubbard and Cornett again. Wrecked at Milwaukee in June 1975 and, according to Milwaukee Mile Historian Steve Zautke, was "wiped out".
  11. Eagle 74 (Jerry Grant): New to Robert L. 'Bob' Fletcher's Cobre Firestone team and entered as the #55 car for Jerry Grant in 1974. Then became the #6 entry for Billy Vukovich in 1975 and then the #3 entry for Bobby Unser in 1976. Probably the car raced by Unser at Phoenix at the start of 1977. To Carl Gehlhausen for 1978 and used by John Mahler as Gehlhausen's #39 entry at the 1978 Indy 500. Also the #39 Gehlhausen entry for Al Loquasto at Indianapolis and Michigan in 1979. Sold to Walter L. Medlin for 1980 and entered as the #32 car for Tony Bettenhausen II at three races; also for Bubby Jones as the #58 at the 1981 Indy 500 but he did not qualify. Remained with Medlin and is part of a collection of unrestored cars photographed on occasions since.
  12. Brabham BT25 [2] (Bill Simpson): Masten Gregory's #95 Brabham did not qualify for the 1968 Indy 500 but was qualified for the 1969 race by Jack Brabham. Peter Revson then used it to win the IRP race in July 1969 and it was retained as an unused spare for the 1970 "500" after which it was sold to John Martin. Martin raced it in 1971 and 1972 before acquiring a newer McLaren M16. The car's last race was when leased to Bill Simpson for the race at Ontario Motor Speedway in March 1974 and was then retained by Martin until he restored it in the early 1990s. In 1993, hearing of the restoration, Simpson bought the car and it was displayed at Simpson World in North Carolina until bought by Aaron Lewis (Cessnock, NSW, Australia) in April 2008. In 2004, or shortly afterwards, Lewis sold the car to the ROFGO Collection.
  13. Cicada 72 (Bob Harkey): Built for 1972 and loaned to Leader Cards, Inc.for the 1972 Indy 500 but did not start a qualifying attempt. Next seen in 1973 when it was the #93 Cicada Racing entry for Jerry Karl at Milwaukee and then in 1974 when it appeared at a number of races. Entries were sparce during 1974 due to the fuel crisis and it is possible that the car was present at more races in 1972 and 1973 but was unable to qualify and unmentioned in reports. Became the #24 Adams Automotive entry for Jigger Sirois at the 1974 Indy 500 but did not qualify and then driven by Dan Murphy later that season. Murphy had a massive accident in the car at Phoenix at the end of the season and a new more radical Cicada intended for a Ferrari 512 engine was shown being constructed in December 1974. However, it appears to have been the 1972 model that reappeared for Indy in 1975 where Murphy and Bob Harkey were unable to qualify. Next seen in 1979 when driven for Walter Medlin's SST Museum at the two Milwaukee races by Bill Puterbaugh. Retained by Medlin and observed on a transporter heading for Indianapolis in April 2007.

Sources

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' original 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.