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Racing West

Racing West

Joe Scalzo, TMS West Coast Editor
Today's Motor Sports
January 1962

December 1961 Racing December 1961 Racing
The Cal Club's Riverside three-hour endurance race that ran Saturday, Oct. 14, the day before the Times-Mirror G.P., was won by Jay Hill's Porsche Carrera.

For Hills, it was a welcome win, because his last appearance at the Riverside track saw him roll his car.

Hills was completely untouchable in the three-hour go, which saw 58 cars take the green flag in what-could-have-been a disastrous standing start.  Hills took over first on the backstraight the first lap, and was never passed.

Hank Montonen finished second, more than a lap behind with his Porsche RS, and the team of Stirling Moss and Jack Brabham took third driving a Rootes Sunbeam Alpine.

Moss and Brabham received special written permission from FIA to run in the event.  They started near the back and each man drove an hour and a half.

Hills, who turned fast lap of 2:26.2, averaged 77.5 mph, and completed 71 laps or 232.525 miles.

Finishing fourth was Art Snyder, in his Lola, five seconds behind the Moss/Brabham duo, who were two laps and 55 seconds behind Mills.

Ted Peterson, who earlier received a "no smoking" sign from the starter after lighting up a smoke on the course was fifth in his two liter Maserati.  Thirty cars finished the race, with about half the finishers driving "iron man."

The enduro highlighted the amateur race card, which also saw a top-notch Formula Junior race.

Popular Ed Leslie, making his first start in the ex-Mike Parkes Gemini, surprised both Pat Pigott (Lotus 20) and Walt Hansgen (Cooper BMC) to take a come from behind victory in the Formula Junior race--a race that saw the course hidden at times with the tough Riverside-type dust.

Leslie, averaging 87.4 mph for the 12 lap race, passed first Pigott, then Hansgen, off the backstraight at turn nine to win by two seconds from Hansgen in an upset triumph.

Hanford-winner Pigott was also beaten by Hansgen's Cooper to finish a disappointing third.  Bob Nethercutt came from the back of the pack to take fourth, while Jack McAfee driving a Lotus 20 like Nethercutt's, got fifth.

Roger Penske (Cooper) was sixth, with Stro Jones (Lotus 20) seventh, and Briggs Cunningham (Cooper) eight.

Fred Work (Cooper) and Floyd Aaskov (Lotus 20)retired early; Aaskov with overheating.

The production race was the debut of the '62 Corvette, and Dave McDonald, clocking near 150 mph on the straight, beat Bill Krause (E Jag) by 13 seconds, after Krause led the first lap.  McDonald's average speed was 84.95 mph.  Hansgen drove a 3.8 Jag sedan in the race, but quit with a blown tire.

A week later at Laguna Seca, SF SCCA amateur action saw Dave Ridenhour (Lister-Jag) win the 30 minute feature modified race, after Chuck Sargent (Birdcage Maserati) was disqualified.  Sargent finished first but was disqualified because of a push start.

Ridenhour led the race until he was run off the road by a slower car at turn six.  Ron Hathaway was given second place with his Lola, a lap behind, and Hugh Harn (Kurtis-Corvette) and Sid Colberg (Jag XK SS) were third and fourth.  The two ran into each other the last lap at turn nine, with damage to both cars.

Riverside winner Leslie won the Junior race, with Fred Work taking second place in his Cooper, and George Sabin third in his Lotus 18.  The average was 81.5 mph.

Other winners included Don Burrows (Lotus 7) in the small production race; Paul Reinhart in the large production race with his Corvette (he is on a five race win streak); and Frank Crane in his Morgan.

Four weeks of drag racing-championship drag racing-ended at Lions drag strip in Long Beach, Calif. recently.  The Western Drag Racing Championships began Sept. 16, and went for four weeks.

The top eliminators were Tom McEwen; Zane Shubert; national point leader Jack Chrisman; and Lefty Mudersback.

Although tremendously overshadowed by the Riverside and Laguna Seca races, a small club event ran at San Luis Obispo, Calif. and handled by the CSCC and S.L.O. Lions Club, Oct. 1, rates notice--if only for the fact that a "star of the future" proved himself there: Don Wester/Porsche Carrera.

Not that Wester could possibly have been called an "unknown" before San Luis--he's drawn much notice over his driving in the Carrera, and before that, an RS Porsche--but at San Luis he really "came out".

There were very few strong production entrants for the one day meet, so Wester, who probably had the strongest Carrera in the west, ran with the modifieds.

He led the modified contest for practically the entire 20 laps on the 1.9 mile course, having a very frustrated Bob Challman (RS Porsche) in his wake much of the time.  Challman, however, spun on one occasion--trying to move up.  Other cars in the modified field--a small but fairly potent one--included two Lotus Climaxes and a Lotus Formula Jr.

Wester held 'em all at bay until the very last turn, when Challman finally drew even with him and beat him to the flag by a second.  But if there ever was a "moral victory" it was Wester's.  Challman averaged 60.07 mph.

Other winners in the one day meet included:  Frank Smith (Alfa Romeo); Charles Gates (Porsche Speedster); Jay Hills (Porsche Carrera )- with Wester's brother, Jim, second in the main event car; Walt Abel on a BMW motorcycle; and Gates, winner of the all classes "top production" race.

The third-of-a-mile Western Speedway in Gardena, Calif., is located just a stone's throw away from Ascot Park.

Sundays at "Western" have always meant CJA hot rod or stock car racing, but now action commences at Western Saturday nights, too, with the lightweight motorcycles of the USMC racing.

Many of the local hot-shoe AMA riders who race at Ascot Friday nights, have also been coming out for the Saturday night fun.  Preston Petty, Jeff Speary, and Ron Nelson have had success at both tracks.

Ascot bike races have a new look about them currently; in the novice class.  Because of four fatalities with the novices this year, the first year riders were reduced from 500cc bikes to 250cc machines.

Also, the novices must ride with brakes.  New star with this limit has been Dick Newall, riding one of the all-conquering Hondas.

NASCAR stock car competition locally has belonged to Eddie (Steady) Gray, who races a 1961 Ford.

He won the recent Sacramento 100-lap event, a race that was halted once because of excessive dust.  Don Noel (Ford) was second.

Then a few weeks later at Antioch, it was Lloyd Dane--the April Riverside 100 victor--winning in a 409 Chevrolet, and Gray going out with transmission trouble.

The most recent stock car go went to Gray again, this time with Eddie Pagan (Ford) second and Dane third.  This time, Dane had trans trouble himself.

It was A.J. Foyt winning again at Ascot in a J.C. Agajanian-promoted 110 midget race Oct. 21.  But his buddy, Jim Hurtubise, stole the show.

Hurtubise hit the wall in the first turn, the first lap of the trophy dash, and his car flipped end-for-end four times.  He was uninjured, though.

Neil Keen won the recent Ascot Park Pacific Coast motorcycle championship, and in doing so, clinched the 161 high point championship.  The BSA competitor also became the first rider to win both the Eight Mile National race, and the Pacific Coast title.

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