Ontario 200

Ontario Motor Speedway, 26 Mar 1978

1 Danny Ongais Parnelli VPJ-6B - Cosworth DFX V8
#25 Interscope
80 1h 13m 42.330s
2 Tom Sneva Penske PC6 - Cosworth DFX V8
#1 Norton Spirit [Penske Racing]
80 Finished
3 Al Unser Lola T500 [HU1] - Cosworth DFX V8
#2 First National City Travelers Checks [Chaparral Racing]
(see note 1)
80 Finished
4 AJ Foyt Coyote 75 ['75-1'] - Foyt-Ford 159 ci quad cam turbo V8
#14 Gilmore/1st National [Foyt Enterprises]
(see note 2)
80 Finished
5 Larry Dickson Penske PC5 [001?] - Cosworth DFX V8
#80 Polak Construction [Russel Polak]
(see note 3)
79 Flagged
6 Dick Simon Vollstedt 77 [14] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#17 Vollstedt
79 Flagged
7 Tom Bigelow Wildcat Mk 2 - DGS 158 ci turbo
#43 Armstrong Mould [Sherman E. Armstrong]
(see note 4)
78 Flagged
8 Sheldon Kinser Watson 77 - Offy 159 ci turbo
#24 Thermo King [Leader Card] (see note 5)
76 Flagged
9 Wally Dallenbach McLaren M24 - Cosworth DFX V8
#6 Sugaripe Prune [Jerry O'Connell/Jud Phillips]
75 Flagged
10 Bobby Olivero Lightning 77 - Offy 159 ci turbo
#78 Alex Foods [Alex Morales] (see note 6)
75 Flagged
11 David "Salt" Walther McLaren M16C [5] - DGS 158 ci turbo
#77 Dayton-Walther [George Walther]
(see note 7)
71 Flagged
12 Gary Bettenhausen Dragon 76 - Offy 159 ci turbo
#98 Oberdorfer [Agajanian/King/JC Purcell]
(see note 8)
56 Flagged
13 Johnny Rutherford McLaren M24 [003?] - Cosworth DFX V8
#4 First National City Travelers Check [Team McLaren]
47 Dropped valve
14 Steve Krisiloff Wildcat Mk 2 - DGS 158 ci turbo
#40 Goodyear/Patrick [Patrick Racing Team]
(see note 9)
41 Dropped valve
15 Mario Andretti Penske PC6 [003] - Cosworth DFX V8
#7 Gould Charge [Penske Racing]
35 Engine
16 Bobby Unser Lightning 77 - Cosworth DFX V8
#48 ARCOgraphite [AAR/Dan Gurney]
(see note 10)
25 Engine
17 Tom Bagley Eagle 74 [7403?] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#22 Kent Oil [Leader Card] (see note 11)
24 Piston
18 Johnny Parsons Jr Lightning 77 - Offy 159 ci laydown turbo
#16 First National City Travelers Check [Lindsey Hopkins]
(see note 12)
8 Rear end
19 Gordon Johncock Wildcat Mk 2 - DGS 158 ci turbo
#20 North American Van Lines [Patrick Racing Team]
(see note 13)
7 Engine
20 Roger McCluskey Eagle 74/76 - AMC 209 ci turbo V8
#74 National Engineering [Warner Hodgdon]
(see note 14)
5 Valve
21 Jerry Karl Vollstedt 73/76 [13] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#27 Vollstedt (see note 15)
4 Lost oil pressure
22 Bob Harkey Eagle 73 [7302?] - Offy 159 ci turbo
#99 Joe Hunt Magneto [Joe Hunt]
(see note 16)
2 Fuel pump
23 Spike Gehlhausen Eagle 74 - Offy 159 ci turbo
#19 PV Corp [Carl Gehlhausen] (see note 17)
2 Engine
24 Chuck Gurney Eagle 74 [7408] - Crower 160 ci f8
#57 Crower Cam [Bruce H. Crower]
(see note 18)
0 Rear end
1 Tom Sneva Penske PC6 - Cosworth DFX V8
2 Mario Andretti Penske PC6 [003] - Cosworth DFX V8
3 Johnny Rutherford McLaren M24 [003?] - Cosworth DFX V8
4 Danny Ongais Parnelli VPJ-6B - Cosworth DFX V8
5 Al Unser Lola T500 [HU1] - Cosworth DFX V8
6 Gordon Johncock Wildcat Mk 2 - DGS 158 ci turbo
7 Wally Dallenbach McLaren M24 - Cosworth DFX V8
8 Spike Gehlhausen Eagle 74 - Offy 159 ci turbo
9 AJ Foyt Coyote 75 ['75-1'] - Foyt-Ford 159 ci quad cam turbo V8
10 Steve Krisiloff Wildcat Mk 2 - DGS 158 ci turbo
11 Dick Simon Vollstedt 77 [14] - Offy 159 ci turbo
12 Johnny Parsons Jr Lightning 77 - Offy 159 ci laydown turbo
13 Larry Dickson Penske PC5 [001?] - Cosworth DFX V8
14 Tom Bagley Eagle 74 [7403?] - Offy 159 ci turbo
15 David "Salt" Walther McLaren M16C [5] - DGS 158 ci turbo
16 Bobby Olivero Lightning 77 - Offy 159 ci turbo
17 Tom Bigelow Wildcat Mk 2 - DGS 158 ci turbo
18 Gary Bettenhausen Dragon 76 - Offy 159 ci turbo
19 Sheldon Kinser Watson 77 - Offy 159 ci turbo
20 Bob Harkey Eagle 73 [7302?] - Offy 159 ci turbo
21 Roger McCluskey Eagle 74/76 - AMC 209 ci turbo V8
22 Jerry Karl Vollstedt 73/76 [13] - Offy 159 ci turbo
23 Bobby Unser Lightning 77 - Cosworth DFX V8
24 Chuck Gurney Eagle 74 [7408] - Crower 160 ci f8

Notes on the cars:

  1. Lola T500 [HU1] (Al Unser): The first Lola T500 was written off in a spectacular crash in Texas in April 1978 (Autosport 25 May 1978 p30). As Tom Erwin's notebook says that T500 HU1 and HU2 were still with Hall in 1979, this car must have been rebuilt. Presumably HU1.
  2. Coyote 75 ['75-1'] (AJ Foyt): New for AJ Foyt at the 1975 Indy 500 as Foyt Enterprises' #14 Gilmore Racing entry. This car was allegedly slimmer and lower than previous cars in this series. Photographs show that the next times Foyt raced this car were to win the Pocono 500 in June 1975, finish second at the Indy 500 in May 1976, and then to win the Indy 500 in 1977, Foyt's fourth win at the Speedway. Foyt then announced that the car had been donated to the IMS Museum, but it was later reclaimed and Foyt took it to second place at the California 500 at Ontario in September. The following year it was raced more often: by Foyt at the Ontario 200 in March and the Texas 200 in April, then it was George Snider's #84 entry at the 1978 Indy 500, was raced by Foyt at Michigan in July, then Foyt's winning ride at the 200-mile Texas Grand Prix at TWS in August that year, and finally Snider's #14 at the Ontario 500. After it was retired, the car was on display in the Indy Museum during the 1980s, but returned to Foyt to be auctioned in 1992. It was acquired by Tony George for $410,000, and returned to the IMS Museum. It has remained in the museum collection since then.
  3. Penske PC5 [001?] (Larry Dickson): Said to have been present at the 1977 Indy 500, but locked in the team's transporter throughout. First raced by Tom Sneva as Penske Racing's #8 Norton Spirit entry at the Michigan 200 in July 1977. Later raced by Sneva at Texas World Speedway two weeks later, and in the California 500 at Ontario in early September. Sold to Russel Polak (Noblesville, IN) and entered for three-time USAC sprint car champion Larry Dickson to race in 1978 and 1979, with Chuck Looper as crew chief. Last seen when Dickson crashed it in practice at Milwaukee in August 1979. Entered for Indy in 1980, but the car did not arrive. This is presumably the car acquired by Joe Hunt and extensively rebuilt for Phil Krueger to race at the start of 1982. Crashed at Phoenix in March 1982 and very heavily damaged. Its suspension was used to build up new car using McLaren M24 tub, and the resulting car used the identity of the McLaren.
  4. Wildcat Mk 2 (Tom Bigelow): 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
  5. Watson 77 (Sheldon Kinser): New for Tom Bigelow to drive as the Leader Card #24 Thermo King entry at the 1977 Indy 500. He qualified 22nd and finished sixth. Bigelow raced the Watson at six more races that season, but used one of the team's old Eagles at Mosport Park and at the short-track races. He was replaced by Sheldon Kinser for 1978, and he raced this car at the opening races before moving to the new 1978 car. Tom Bagley then took over the 1977 car for the rest of the season at was at his best on road courses, qualifying fifth at Mosport, seventh at Silverstone and eighth at Brands Hatch. Billy Vukovich took over the car for 1979, the year of the CART/USAC schism and achived several good placing in the poorly-supported USAC races, including second place at Milwaukee in June. The car was only seen a few times in 1980 and was then sold to Harry Schwartz' Rattlesnake Racing for Billy Vukovich to drive in 1981.
  6. Lightning 77 (Bobby Olivero): New to Alex Morales for 1977 and entered as the #78 Alex Foods car for Bobby Olivero. Presumably his #78 car for the rest of the season but it is possible that the sister #15 car was also used as the #78 at some points during 1977. Then the #78 Alex Foods car for Max Mosley in 1978 and presumed to be the same #78 car he uses all season but it is again quite likely that the sister car was used somewhere. This was then Pancho Carter's Offy-powered #10 Alex XLNT Foods car at the 1979 Indy 500 and as the sister car had been converted to Drake V8 power, this is presumably the Offy car he used through 1979. As the Drake car was converted to a Cosworth DFX and retained for 1980, this Offy car would be the car sold to John Menard's team and entered as the #28 for Herm Johnson in 1980, still with Offy power. For 1981, the Menard team, led by ex-Parnelli mechanic Dan Cota, extensively modified the car with new ground-effect sidepods and fitted a normally-aspirated Chevrolet stock block engine. The car went well at the Indy 500 but Herm Johnson was bumped. To Larry Walker (Indianapolis, IN) for 1982, and entered by his Timberwood Racers at the Indy 500 in 1982 and 1983 as the #88 Frito-Lay Racer, for Billy Scott in 1982 and Roger Rager in 1983, but did not qualify. Subsequent history unknown.
  7. McLaren M16C [5] (David "Salt" Walther): 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).
  8. Dragon 76 (Gary Bettenhausen): 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".
  9. Wildcat Mk 2 (Steve Krisiloff): Built by Patrick Racing during 1976, but not run for the first time until the 1977 Indy 500, where it was Gordon Johncock's #20 STP entry. It is believed to have been his regular long-track car in 1977, but he also had his 1976 Mk 2 for short tracks early in the season, and had a Mk 3 which was used at Mosport and at least one short track later in the season. This car became Steve Krisiloff's #40 Foreman Industries car in 1978 until he wrecked it at Ontario in September, in a collision with Cliff Hucul's older Wildcat sent Krisiloff into the wall. Krisiloff had to use the unloved Drake V8-powered Mk 4 for the rest of the season, indicating that Patrick Racing had no Mk 2s left and that this car was not rebuilt.
  10. Lightning 77 (Bobby Unser): Chassis "ROMLIN/7" was one of the 1977 Lightnings but its history before it was raced by Bobby Unser for the Teddy Yip/Dan Gurney AAR team in early 1978 is unresolved. It was used for the opening four races of 1978 before being replaced by the team's new Eagle. To Richard Hoffman (Milford, OH) for 1979 and raced by Joe Saldana as the #59 or #69 car during 1979 and 1980. These entry numbers were also used by the team's old 1972 Eagle and exactly how the two cars were used is still to be determined. The Lightning was run in practice at the 1981 Indy 500 with modified sidepods and nose but was crashed by Saldana. It was acquired by Dean Vetrock (Racine, WI) for 1982, but he failed to qualify for the Indy 500 and did not appear in the series again. Vetrock raced this car briefly in the CAT (ex-Can-Am) series in 1987. Four years later, the car was acquired from a Monterey area dealer by a client of Tom Tatalovich Racing Services (Golden Valley, AZ). Tatlovich restored the car to AAR livery, and it was sold at a Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona in January 1992. Tom recalls that the buyer was from Hilton Head. By 2002, the car was owned by Larry Wharton, who completed a restoration that year. In 2008, it was bought from Wharton by David S. Morrison (Long Beach, CA).
  11. Eagle 74 [7403?] (Tom Bagley): 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.
  12. Lightning 77 (Johnny Parsons Jr): Designed by Roman Slobodynskyj to have the Offy engine laid on its side, angled just 12 degrees from the horizontal, the 'laydown' Offy was first seen in public at the 1977 California 500. The car required a completely new transmission, designed by Pete Weismmann, and this proved troublesome. Despite the car's speed, Roger McCluskey raced the conventional car at Ontario. New team driver Johnny Parsons drove the car at Ontario and Trenton in early 1978, retiring both times, and then ran it at 197.889 mph in practice at the Speedway before another transmission failure. Photographs show it was at Michigan in September but the car Parsons used to finish in seventh place is now believed to have been his conventional car. Then team focused on the Drake V8 in 1979, but at Indy in May Parsons took the laydown off Hurley Haywood during practice and qualified it ninth. He also qualified it third at Pocono and then - remarkably - finished fourth in it at Milwaukee. Parsons qualified it well again in 1980 but after another retirement, he focused on Hopkins' new ground-effect design. In 1986, the car was donated to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, and remained with the museum, unrestored, until it was offered for sale in April 2021.
  13. Wildcat Mk 2 (Gordon Johncock): Another new Mk 2 was built for Gordon Johncock to use in 1978 and he used this car throughout the 1978 season, the Mk 3 and Mk 4 having been effectively abandoned. Sold to Herb & Rose Wysard for 1979 and became their #34 Wysard Motors entry for Vern Schuppan. Retained for 1980 and raced by Pete Halsmer and Schuppan up to Watkins Glen in August, after which it was sold to Larry Cannon to replace his Mk 1. Probably the car raced by Cannon in the last few races of 1980 and then entered for Dick Ferguson and Herm Johnson in early 1981. 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.
  14. Eagle 74/76 (Roger McCluskey): Fred Carrillo, formerly of Champ Carr Enterprises, had entered a "1974" Eagle in 1975 and then with a 209 ci turbocharged AMC V8 engine in 1976 for Jerry Grant to drive. During 1976, this car was rebuilt on a 1974 Eagle tub, still powered by the AMC engine. Lloyd Ruby took over the drive later in 1976 after Grant was hospitalised with a liver infection, and he was replaced by Jim McElreath at the 1977 Indy 500. Carrillo had sold the car to Warner Hodgdon by August 1977, who continued to employ McElreath as driver. It changed from the #73 to the #74 entry later in that 1977 season. Retained by Hodgdon for Roger McCluskey to race in 1978, initially as the #74 National Engineering entry, and later changing to #11 for the Indy 500 and Phoenix at the end of the season. Subsequent history unknown.
  15. Vollstedt 73/76 [13] (Jerry Karl): 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. Eagle 73 [7302?] (Bob Harkey): Built in time for Bobby Unser to drive as AAR's #8 Olsonite entry at Texas World Speedway in April. He then used the same car at Trenton, but had a further new car, chassis 7304, for Indianapolis. Exactly how 7302 was then used is still being resolved, but it is assumed for now to be the car he crashed at Milwaukee in August. The unrepaired chassis then sat on pallets at AAR until the autumn of 1975 when it was bought by Joe Hunt (Torrance, CA), repaired, and run by him as the #99 Joe Hunt Magneto entry starting when John Martin drove it in the final race of the 1975 season. Hunt continued to run it at Indy races at Ontario and at Phoenix through the next five seasons. It was taken to the Indy 500 in 1981 for Phil Krueger to drive and was crashed heavily during practice, but rebuilt yet again, and raced until 1982. Subsequent history unknown, but it was acquired by Jack Danko (Laurel Run, PA) in January 2004, and rebuilt to be used in Pensylvania hillclimbs by his son Darryl Danko from 2005 to at least 2011.
  17. Eagle 74 (Spike Gehlhausen): 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.
  18. Eagle 74 [7408] (Chuck Gurney): The early history of this car is unknown, except that it was owned by the Fletcher team. For 1978, it was acquired by Bruce H. Crower or Crower Cams, and fitted with his own 160 ci flat-8 engine. This was raced by Chuck Gurney in early 1978, and then returned in 1979 in the hands of Jerry Sneva. The car was then retained by Crower.


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.