OldRacingCars.com

California 500 Qualification Heat 1

Ontario Motor Speedway, 2 Mar 1975

ResultsLapsTime/Speed
1 AJ Foyt Coyote 74 ['74-2'] - Foyt-Ford 159 ci quad cam turbo V8
#14 Gilmore Racing [Foyt Enterprises]
(see note 1)
40 0h 33m 52.920s
2 Duane "Pancho" Carter Eagle 74 - Offy 159 ci turbo
#11 Cobre Tire [Fletcher Racing Team]
(see note 2)
39 Flagged
3 Lee Kunzman Eagle 72 - Offy 159 ci turbo
#55 Cobre Tire [Fletcher Racing Team]
(see note 3)
39 Flagged
4 Billy Scott Eagle 72 [7202] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#76 Webster Racing [Marvin Webster]
(see note 4)
38 Flagged
5 Gordon Johncock Wildcat Mk 1 - DGS 158 ci turbo
#20 Sinmast [Patrick Racing] (see note 5)
36 Lost power
6 John Martin McLaren M16B [3] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#89 Unsponsored [John Martin] (see note 6)
36 Engine
7 Al Unser Eagle 74 - Offy 159 ci turbo
#4 Viceroy [Vel's Parnelli Jones]
(see note 7)
35 Broken fuel pump
8 Roger McCluskey Riley 74 - Offy 159 ci turbo
#15 Silver Floss Sauerkraut [Lindsey Hopkins]
(see note 8)
34 Engine
9 Tom Sneva McLaren M16C [1] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#68 Norton Spirit [Penske Racing]
(see note 9)
29 Vent cap
10 Mike Mosley Eagle 74 [7407] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#12 Sugaripe Prune [Jerry O'Connell/Jud Phillips]
(see note 10)
3 Broken valve
11 Gary Bettenhausen Eagle 72 [7216] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#45 Thermo King [Don Gerhardt] (see note 11)
2 Engine
12 Johnny Parsons Jr Finley 73 - Offy 159 ci turbo
#94 Vatis [Tassi Vatis] (see note 12)
0 Did not start
13 George Snider Eagle 72 [7221] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#97 Lodestar [Agajanian/Leader Card]
(see note 13)
0 Did not start
Qualifying
1 AJ Foyt Coyote 74 ['74-2'] - Foyt-Ford 159 ci quad cam turbo V8
2 Al Unser Eagle 74 - Offy 159 ci turbo
3 Tom Sneva McLaren M16C [1] - Offy 159 ci turbo
4 Duane "Pancho" Carter Eagle 74 - Offy 159 ci turbo
5 Gordon Johncock Wildcat Mk 1 - DGS 158 ci turbo
6 Mike Mosley Eagle 74 [7407] - Offy 159 ci turbo
7 Johnny Parsons Jr Finley 73 - Offy 159 ci turbo
8 Roger McCluskey Riley 74 - Offy 159 ci turbo
9 John Martin McLaren M16B [3] - Offy 159 ci turbo
10 Lee Kunzman Eagle 72 - Offy 159 ci turbo
11 Billy Scott Eagle 72 [7202] - Offy 159 ci turbo
12 Gary Bettenhausen Eagle 72 [7216] - Offy 159 ci turbo
13 George Snider Eagle 72 [7221] - Offy 159 ci turbo

Notes on the cars:

  1. Coyote 74 ['74-2'] (AJ Foyt): New for AJ Foyt at the 1974 Indy 500 as Foyt Enterprises' #14 Gilmore Racing entry. Photographs show that it was also raced by Foyt at Milwaukee in June, Pocono, Michigan in July, Milwaukee in August, probably Michigan again in September, Trenton in September and Phoenix in November. It was also used to set a new record speedway lap of 217.854 mph at Talladega on 3 August 1974. Photographs also show that this was one of three cars used by Foyt during the 1975 season: at Ontario in March, as his #10 backup car at the Indy 500, and at both Michigan races in July and September 1975. In 1976, Foyt raced the older 1974 car at early-season short track races and the newer 1975 car at the Indy 500, but used this car for every race from Pocono in June to the end of the season. In 1977, it was raced by Foyt at Ontario and Phoenix in March, TWS in April, Pocono, Mosport, and Trenton in September; and by Billy Vukovich at the Indy 500. In 1978, it was raced by Foyt at Phoenix in March, Trenton in April, Mosport, and Milwaukee in June, by Snider at Pocono, and probably at Michigan, where he hit the wall. It may be the car raced by Foyt in the August Milwaukee and by George Snider in the two races in Britain in October 1978, but this remains uncertain. Foyt then bought Parnelli VPJ6Cs, and the Coyotes were finally retired. This car passed to Foyt's long-time sponsor Jim Gilmore and was on display in his second-floor office in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and was in his living room at his home by 1985. After Gilmore died in a traffic accident in 2001, the Coyote moved to the Gilmore Museum, also in Kalamazoo, which had been founded by his uncle, Donald S. Gilmore in 1966. Its display board calls it a 1974 car, and that it was the Talladega record car.
  2. Eagle 74 (Duane "Pancho" Carter): New to Robert L. 'Bob' Fletcher's Cobre Firestone team and entered as the #21 car for Jimmy Caruthers in 1974. Firestone withdrew from racing In August 1974 and Fletcher, who ran the largest Firestone dealership in the US, had to use Goodyear tyres in 1975. He also lost chief mechanic Jim McGee to Penske. This car became the white #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 (Lee Kunzman): 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.
  4. Eagle 72 [7202] (Billy Scott): 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.
  5. Wildcat Mk 1 (Gordon Johncock): New for Gordy Johncock in 1975 as Patrick Racing's #20 Sinmast entry. Retained for 1976 and used by Johncock at short track events, winning at Trenton and twice finishing second at Milwaukee. Sold to Wildcat Racing Associates (Lynbrook, NY), a partnership of Frank Curtis, Gene Langsam and Walter Albert, with Curtis as chief mechanic and to be raced by Vern Schuppan as the #85 entry. The car was repossessed by lawyers at Pocono, and in August was sold to Danville barber Larry Cannon, who raced it for the rest of 1977 still entered as #85. Retained by Cannon for 1978, 1979 and 1980, qualifying for the Indy 500 in 1980. The car was again entered by Cannon in 1981 for guest drivers. Both Cannon's Wildcats were later bought by Maurice Kraines of Kraco and used as display cars at store openings and malls. Subsequent history unknown.
  6. 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, first appearing in this form at Pocono three weeks later, and raced by Martin 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Riley 74 (Roger McCluskey): New for the 1974 season and entered by Lindsey Hopkins as the #1 English Leather entry for his reigning USAC champion driver Roger McCluskey. Retained for 1975 when it was the #15 Silver Floss Sauerkraut entry for McCluskey. Retained as a backup for 1976 when Mike Hiss drove it as the #11 Hopkins entry at Indy but did not qualify. Chuck Looper told Pete Klain that Hopkins traded three cars to Rolla Vollstedt, including the Riley, and Vollstedt sold it to Kenny Hamilton (Boise, ID) who fitted a Chevy engine and ran it as the #63 Spirit of Idaho in 1981, failing to qualify at Indy but starting at Riverside later that year. It then went to Terry Nish (Salt Lake City, UT) who used the suspension on a sprint car or supermodified. The chassis and other parts passed through several more owners until sold by Gary Trout (Zionsville, Indiana) to Pete Klain (Beverly Hills, MI). Klain visited Nish and bought the original uprights and started work on a complete rebuild with original fabricator Chuck Looper.
  9. McLaren M16C [1] (Tom Sneva): 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. Eagle 74 [7407] (Mike Mosley): New to Jerry O'Connell's team for 1974 and raced by Billy Vukovich as the #4 Sugaripe Prune Special, with Jud Phillips as chief mechanic. Presumably the car used through 1974 by Vukovich and then through 1975 by Mike Mosley but the team had older 1972 Eagles available and those older cars may have been used at some races. Used again by Mosley in 1977 but O'Connell also acquired a new Lightning for that season. After Pocono in July 1978 the Eagle was sold to Jim McElreath, who had damaged his ex-Patrick 1973 Eagle at that race. Identified by Simmo Iskül from photographs as McElreath's #23 in 1979, and presumed to be the McElreath Racing #23 right up to 1981, although the ex-Patrick car was also repaired and used again. Subsequent history unknown, but at some point in the next 30 years the car was acquired by Chuck Haines and restored to it original Sugaripe Prune livery. For reasons currently unknown, Haines advertises the car as chassis 74-08.
  11. Eagle 72 [7216] (Gary Bettenhausen): 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.
  12. Finley 73 (Johnny Parsons Jr): This car is often described as a Fleagle (e.g. the 1974 Hungness and the 1973 Daily Reports) but the descriptions are sufficiently consistent to be able to pinpoint this as a 1973 car built by Vatis Chief Mechanic Bill Finley (Hungness 1974 p124) as the car used by Parsons at both the 1973 and 1974 Indy 500s. All other references to Finley-Eagles, Finleys and Fleagles wearing #94 in 1973, 1974 and 1975 are presumed to be this same car. In 1975, the Vatis team acquired at old 1972 Eagle which was run as the #93 car with the 1973 Finley retaining the number #94. In 1976, a new Eagle was built on a "spare tub" and took the number #93 after which the 1973 Finley appears to have been retired.
  13. Eagle 72 [7221] (George Snider): 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).

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.