OldRacingCars.com

Tony Bettenhausen 200

Milwaukee Mile, 22 Aug 1976

ResultsLapsTime/Speed
1 Al Unser Parnelli VPJ-6B [001] - Cosworth DFX V8
#21 American Racing Wheels [Vel's Parnelli Jones]
(see note 1)
200 1h 38m 26.130s
2 Gordon Johncock Wildcat Mk 1 - DGS 158 ci turbo
#20 Goodyear-Patrick [Patrick Racing Team]
(see note 2)
199 Flagged
3 Johnny Rutherford McLaren M16C [5] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#2 Hy-Gain [Team McLaren] (see note 3)
199 Flagged
4 Bobby Unser Eagle 74 - Offy 159 ci turbo
#3 Cobre Tire [Fletcher Racing]
(see note 4)
198 Flagged
5 Mike Mosley Eagle 74 [7407] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#12 Sugaripe Prune [Jerry O'Connell/Jud Phillips]
(see note 5)
197 Flagged
6 Roger McCluskey Lightning 76 - Offy 159 ci turbo
#7 Hopkins [Lindsey Hopkins] (see note 6)
191 Flagged
7 Tom Bigelow Eagle 74 [7403] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#24 Leader Card (see note 7)
187 Flagged
8 Todd Gibson Eagle 74 [7406] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#8 Routh Meat [Richard Routh] (see note 8)
186 Flagged
9 Spike Gehlhausen McLaren M16B [2] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#19 Spirit of Indiana [Carl Gehlhausen]
(see note 9)
181 Flagged
10 Roger Rager Eagle 72 [7212] - Foyt-Ford 159 ci quad cam turbo V8
#44 Robyn CB [Dick Simon] (see note 10)
180 Flagged
11 Ed Finley Antares 72 - Chevrolet 320 ci V8
#79 Shamrock Racing (see note 11)
156 Flagged
12 Johnny Parsons Jr Finley Eagle ['72 7224?] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#93 1st National Travel Check [Vatis Enterprises]
(see note 12)
144 Broken exhaust header
13 Tom Sneva McLaren M16C [4?] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#68 Norton Spirit [Penske Racing]
(see note 13)
127 Engine
14 Ken Nichols Fiore Spyder - Offy 159 ci turbo
#43 Hoffman Racing [Frank Fiore]
102 Oil leak
15 Billy Vukovich Eagle 74 - Offy 159 ci turbo
#5 Alex Foods [Alex Morales] (see note 14)
98 Fuel problem
16 Dick Simon Vollstedt 73/76 [13] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#17 Bryant Heating [Vollstedt Enterprises]
(see note 15)
88 Poor handling
17 Wally Dallenbach Wildcat Mk 2 - DGS 158 ci turbo
#40 Goodyear-Patrick [Patrick Racing Team]
(see note 16)
64 Fuel problems
18 John Martin Dragon 76 - Offy 159 ci turbo
#98 Genesee Beer [Agajanian/King/Hammond]
(see note 17)
59 Broken crankshaft
Qualifying
1 Johnny Rutherford McLaren M16C [5] - Offy 159 ci turbo
2 Gordon Johncock Wildcat Mk 1 - DGS 158 ci turbo
3 Bobby Unser Eagle 74 - Offy 159 ci turbo
3 Tom Sneva McLaren M16C [4?] - Offy 159 ci turbo
5 Al Unser Parnelli VPJ-6B [001] - Cosworth DFX V8
6 Roger McCluskey Lightning 76 - Offy 159 ci turbo
7 Mike Mosley Eagle 74 [7407] - Offy 159 ci turbo
8 Johnny Parsons Jr Finley Eagle ['72 7224?] - Offy 159 ci turbo
9 Wally Dallenbach Wildcat Mk 2 - DGS 158 ci turbo
10 Tom Bigelow Eagle 74 [7403] - Offy 159 ci turbo
11 John Martin Dragon 76 - Offy 159 ci turbo
12 Dick Simon Vollstedt 73/76 [13] - Offy 159 ci turbo
13 Billy Vukovich Eagle 74 - Offy 159 ci turbo
14 Spike Gehlhausen McLaren M16B [2] - Offy 159 ci turbo
15 Todd Gibson Eagle 74 [7406] - Offy 159 ci turbo
16 Roger Rager Eagle 72 [7212] - Foyt-Ford 159 ci quad cam turbo V8
17 Ken Nichols Fiore Spyder - Offy 159 ci turbo
18 Ed Finley Antares 72 - Chevrolet 320 ci V8

Notes on the cars:

  1. Parnelli VPJ-6B [001] (Al Unser): The original 1975 Parnelli was also Unser's primary car at the 1976 Indy 500 and the 1977 Indy 500 (Hungness yearbooks) and wore #21 throughout. Assumed to be Unser's #21 car throughout 1976 and, as Formula refers to the cars "remaining much as was last season", presumed to be the car used in the early 1977 races. Unser had a backup (also #21) at the 1977 Indy 500 but, with this backup written off, Unser must have used this car at Milwaukee and also, according to race reports, at the Pocono 500 (Formula Sep 1977 p42), California 500 (Formula Nov 1977 p35 where the winner is listed in the results as a VPJ6B), Michigan (Autocourse p238) and Phoenix (Autocourse). In between Pocono and Ontario, Unser may have driven the VPJ6C.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. Eagle 74 (Bobby Unser): 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.
  5. 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 Isk├╝l 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.
  6. Lightning 76 (Roger McCluskey): New for Lindsey Hopkins as the #7 Hopkins entry for Roger McCluskey at the Indy 500 in 1976. Raced by McCluskey from Michigan in July to the end of the season, qualifying second at Ontario and at Michigan in September but not actually finishing a race higher than fifth. Sold to Rolla Vollstedt for Janet Guthrie to drive in 1977 as his #27 Bryant Air Conditioning entry. Guthrie qualified for the Indy 500, and also raced the car at Pocono and Ontario, and by Bob Harkey and Dick Simon at other races. Sold to Phil Threshie for 1978 but crashed at Michigan and wrecked again at Ontario, its final race. Later owned by Nick Pappas (Oregon City, OR) and sold by him to Bob Boyce (Michigan City, IN). Later to Bob McConnell (Urbana, OH).
  7. Eagle 74 [7403] (Tom Bigelow): New to Patrick Racing and identified by an Indianapolis 'Laycock card' as Wally Dallenbach's #40 STP entry in 1974. Given the early construction date, marked as January on the chassis plate, this car is assumed to be Dallenbach's ride from the start of 1974. Presumably his early-1975 car before the new Wildcats were ready. At Indy 1975 as the #60 spare. Sold to Leader Card Racers for 1976 and George Snider's #23 Hubler Chevrolet ride in that year's 500. Also for Mike Hiss at Ontario. Retained for 1977 and the #64 at the Indy 500 but thought to be the #23 at other races. Retained again for 1978 but wrecked in Tom Bigelow's accident at Mosport Park in June. Bought from AJ Watson by someone called Al in Grand Rapid, Michigan and sold by him to Bill Wiswedel (Holland, Michigan) around 2000-2004. In approximately 2017, Bill sold the car to James Long (Nevada City, CA) and he sold it to Bobby Rahal (Chicago, IL) in 2020.
  8. Eagle 74 [7406] (Todd Gibson): New to VPJ for 1974, but exactly how this car was used in 1974 and 1975 is yet to be fully determined. After Gary Allbritain crashed Dick Routh's ex-Gordy Johncock 1974 Eagle twice in early 1976, Routh's chief crew Todd Gibson bought chassis 7406 from the VPJ team to replace it. Raced by Jan Opperman at the Indy 500 as the #8 Routh Meat entry and then by Gibson himself for the rest of the season. It then became Routh's #22 Baja Boats car for Gibson in 1977, but was crashed heavily in practice at Milwaukee in August. The car was repaired over the close season using the left rear corner from the ex-Johncock Eagle, and run by Gibson a few times in 1978 as the #75 Gibson Racing entry. The car was rebuilt using a Bob Fletcher update kit which moved the radiators to the back of the tub, and was raced in this form until Gibson crashed it in qualifying at the 1979 Indy 500. At some later date, this car was acquired by Chuck Haines and rebuilt to 1974 specification.
  9. McLaren M16B [2] (Spike Gehlhausen): McLaren Cars 1972 for Peter Revson (#12), and raced at the Indy 500, Pocono and Ontario. Also raced by Gordie Johncock at Trenton in September after his usual M16B/3 had been wrecked at Ontario. To Lindsey Hopkins for Roger McCluskey to race in 1973 as the #3 Hopkins Buick entry, but McCluskey raced his older M16A at the Indy 500 and at Pocono, before settling on the M16B at the end of the season. The two cars took McCluskey to the USAC National Championship. The M16B was retained for 1974 and 1975 as a backup to Hopkins' new Riley-built 'English Leather' car. The McLaren was used at Trenton in 1975, and then entered for Graham McRae at the 1975 Indy 500, but he could not qualify. Sold to Carl Gehlhausen for Spike Gehlhausen to drive in 1976 (#19 Spirit of Indiana) and 1977 (#19 PV Corp) but crashed at Ontario, Indy and Pocono in 1977 with serious damage each time. Replaced with an Eagle in mid-1977. Acquired from Gehlhausen by Chuck Haines (St Louis, MO) some time in the 1980s, and restored by Gehlhausen's chief mechanic Eddie Baue and Walter Goodwin. USAC's history of this car identified it as the #86 "ex-Revson" McLaren (actually Hopkins' other M16) and it was restored to this specification and then sold to Gene Wagner (Atlanta, GA), who used it in US vintage racing between 1988 and 1990.
  10. Eagle 72 [7212] (Roger Rager): 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. Antares 72 (Ed Finley): New for Pat Patrick's Michner Petroleum team and entered at the 1972 Indy 500 as their #42 car for Swede Savage. Like fellow intended Antares pilot Wally Dallenbach, Savage focused on his 1970 Eagle and qualified that for the race. The Antares was significantly revamped in time for the Ontario race in September but was no quicker and Savage did not attempt to qualify it. Together with the Dallenbach car, it was bought by Ed Finley, Gary Miller and Keith Shuck in 1975 and fitted with a Chevrolet V8 for Finley to drive in 1976. It was not used again but was later stored with the Dallenbach car at the workshop of Ken Mahoney (Peru, IL). All Mahoney's Antares bits were acquired from him at some point by Jack Layton (Howell, Michigan), and the ex-Savage car and other parts went to someone called Al in Grand Rapid, Michigan. He later sold all his Indy stuff to Bill Wiswedel (Holland, Michigan), who sold the Antares stuff to a guy in the Chicago area who was planning to fit a Chevrolet engine and use the car in vintage racing. The tub and spares were acquired some time before 2007 by Michael McKinney (Kennewick WA), also the owner of the more complete ex-McCluskey car.
  12. Finley Eagle ['72 7224?] (Johnny Parsons Jr): Having run a 1972 Eagle and the 1973 'Fleagle' in 1975, the Vatis team introduced a new car in 1976, said to have been built on a spare Eagle tub unused until that year. This ran as the #93 car in 1976 with the 1972 Eagle moving from #93 to #92. This arrangement appears to have continued through 1977 but the two cars become harder to disentangle in 1978 as the 1972 Eagle has been modified to look much the same as the 1976 car. It would appear that the older 1972 Eagle becomes the team's first choice car in 1978 and in 1979.
  13. McLaren M16C [4?] (Tom Sneva): The history of this car in 1973 and 1974 remains unproven, but believed to be new for Peter Revson as McLaren Cars' #15 entry at the 1973 Indy 500. Crashed by Revson and it is unclear when the car returned to the team. Almost certainly Johnny Rutherford's black rollhooped short track car in 1974. McLaren records show that M16C/4 was sold to Roger Penske in November 1974. Raced by Tom Sneva in 1975 as the #68 Norton Spirit entry after his original M16C was wrecked at the Indy 500. Used again by Sneva as his #68 car during 1976, and appears to have been the #68 driven by Mario Andretti in two late-season races. Sold to Bill Simpson with M16C/3 and became part of Teddy Yip's Theodore Racing team in 1977 as their #38 car, raced by Clay Regazzoni at the Indy 500 and by Rick Mears later in the season. Unknown in 1978 but reappeared in 1979 as Bill Alsup's #41 WASP Racing car. Raced by Phil Caliva for Alsup Racing in 1980 as the #47 and at Indy 1981 where it was "extensively damaged" on 12 May in an accident during practice. Not seen again.
  14. Eagle 74 (Billy Vukovich): Having crashed his usual #21 Vel's Parnelli Jones 1974 Eagle at the 1975 Indy 500, Mario Andretti drove a different 1974 Eagle at Pocono in June 1975, his final appearance for VPJ. The Pocono car went to Alex Morales for 1976 and was the #5 Alex Foods entry driven by Billy Vukovich and the 1976 Indy 500. Raced by Vukovich for Morales for the rest of 1976 and again in 1977 when it was the #15 entry. Last seen at the 1977 Indy 500 when it was the #75 backup car crashed by Jerry Grant during practice. The car was only moderately damaged so is likely to have been rebuilt. Subsequent history unknown.
  15. Vollstedt 73/76 [13] (Dick Simon): New for 1973 as Vollstedt Enterprises' #17 Norton Spirit entry for Bill Simpson but Simpson crashed during practice for the Indy 500, and the car could not be repaired in time for qualifying. Simpson drove the car again in practice for the Pocono 500, but left the team, saying the car was not fast enough. Bob Harkey took over the drive, and qualified. At the Ontario 500, Tom Sneva was brought into the team, but again crashed the car preventing it from qualifying. The car was converted to the McLaren-style design of the 1972 car for 1974 when it was raced by Bigelow as the #27 Bryant Heating car. Raced by Bigelow at Indy in 1975 but its usage during the rest of that season is still to be determined. Rebuilt extensively for 1976 with its radiators moved to the nose, the same as the 1972 car which had been modified the previous season. Raced by Dick Simon as the #17 Bryant Heating entry in 1976 and in early 1977. It was then retained by the team as a backup car in 1978 and was fitted with an AMC turbo V8 for some races in 1979. Its last known appearance was when driven by Gary Bettenhausen at Pocono in June 1981, when it was described as "an old shovel-nose car". Rolla Vollstedt's son Bruce recalls that the tub sat around for some time, the sides having been taken off with the intention of using it build a different style car. The sides were later put back on, it was sold to to Joe Green, and Rolla rebuilt the car for him in about 2001.
  16. Wildcat Mk 2 (Wally Dallenbach): Wally Dallenbach had a Wildcat Mk 2 for the 1976 season but we cannot be certain when he drove the Mk 2 that season and when he may have used an older Mk 1. The Mk 3s were produced for 1977 but were only used at a handful of races and Dallenbach drove his 1976 Mk 2 at most races. At the end of 1977, the Dallenbach Mk 2 was sold to Sherman Armstrong's Armstrong Mould team and driven by Tom Bigelow through the 1978 season. It was loaned back to Patrick Racing for Steve Krisiloff to drive at Trenton in September after his usual Mk 2 had been wrecked at Ontario three weeks earlier and the alternative Mk 4 had been shipped to England for the two British races. Retained by Armstrong and driven by Gary Bettenhausen and Howdy Holmes in 1979 and by Bettenhausen in 1980. Used briefly by Rich Vogler as an Armstrong Mould entry in Indy 500 practice in 1981. Subsequent history unknown
  17. Dragon 76 (John Martin): New for John Martin to drive at the 1976 Indy 500 as JC Agajanian & Grant King's #98 Genesee Beer entry. Also driven by Martin at Milwaukee, Pocono, Michigan, Trenton, Milwaukee again and Ontario, but it is possible that he was using the sister car at the short track races. Entered by Agajanian and Evel Knievel for Gary Bettenhausen to drive in 1977, but he used an old 1973 Kingfish at least once at short track events. For Bettenhausen again in 1978, now entered by Agajanian, King and JC Purcell, and with Oberdorfer Foundries as title sponsor. The car was retired from racing at the end of 1978, and crew member Bill Throckmorton recalls that "the Evel Knievel car hung upstairs with the orange Oberdorfer colors on it until Grant restored it".

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.