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Summer Of 1963 – Crew Cuts And Stock Cars At Meadowdale

The field is lined up ready to go at Meadowdale for the scheduled 250-mile USAC Stock Car race. Row one has the 1963 Fords of Don White #2 and Curtis Turner #26. Row two is occupied by Norm Nelson #3 and Harry Heuer #17. [Photo by Russ Lake]

The field is lined up ready to go at Meadowdale for the scheduled 250-mile USAC Stock Car race. Row one has the 1963 Fords of Don White #2 and Curtis Turner #26. Row two is occupied by Norm Nelson #3 and Harry Heuer #17. [Photo by Russ Lake]

 

The summer of 1963 saw the United States under Camelot, kids with crew-cuts and a country before the arrival of the Beatles. Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore led television ratings, a dominate pitcher Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers were in first place and “Surf City” by Jan and Dean ruled the transistor radios.

The weekend of July 27-28 a full plate of auto racing was available to Midwest racing fans as Dan Gurney was the polesitter for the third annual Hoosier Grand Prix at Indianapolis Raceway Park.  Driving Frank Arciero’s Lotus-Climax Gurney held off the likes of Walt Hansgen and Bob Holbert even though he had to make five pit stops to add oil to the hungry double cam 2.6 Climax engine.

In Bristol, Tennessee Elmhurst, IL-native Fred Lorenzen won the third annual NASCAR Grand National Volunteer 500. Lorenzen was the first driver to win two and later three straight races on the 22-degree banked corners.  The now familiar 36-degree banking wasn’t added until 1969.

On Thursday and Friday, residents of Speedway, Indiana heard the familiar roar of the V-8 Novi echoing at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Firestone tire test was the opportunity for Texan, Jim McElreath to hit 152.8-MPH in Andy Granatelli’s Novi in practice runs.  Parnelli Jones and Bobby Marshman also participated in test runs before heading to Trenton, NJ for the 150-mile National Championship car race.  In that race, 28-year old, A.J. Foyt coasted to a flag-to-flag victory over Bobby Grim and Roger McCluskey.  Meanwhile Ronnie Duman and Chuck Rodee won USAC midget features at Islip Speedway in New York.  Gordon Johncock won a super-modified race in Toledo, Ohio. New Jersey-native Mark Donohue won the 47-lap feature for formula libre and midget race cars at Lime Rock, CT. Donohue drove the Ken Brenn “pusher” rear-engine Offy-powered midget and lapped the field in victory. Sadly, longtime ARDC and USAC competitor Bill Randall lost his life in an accident during the race.  Mario Andretti and King Carpenter led early before Donohue took command.

In the northern Chicago suburb of Carpentersville stock car legend Curtis Turner won the rain and accident shortened USAC Stock Car race on the popular twisty road circuit. The normal 3.3-mile road course was shortened to 2.4-miles for the stock cars. In qualifying Turner won the pole with a time of 1:36.12 with Don White filling out the front row. Paul Goldsmith and Harry Heuer occupied row two.

The late model stock car race was halted twice, once for rain and later for a wild fiery accident on the main straight.  Due to the delays, darkness started to fall as race organizers decided to shorten the race from 250 to 225-miles. Early in the race, Bill Shoulders blew a tire coming off the Monza Wall and hit the inside wall. Arnie Gardner and Bob Slensby piled into the car of Shoulders. One the cars erupted into flames from a split fuel tank. Pit crewman and track workers worked quickly to extinguish the fire.

Later Dr. Dick Thomson who had subbed for Heuer flipped his Ford in Doanes Corner. Turner led the first 35-laps before yielding the lead to Colorado driver, John Rostek. However, Turner driving a 1963 Ford was able to pass the Lamplighter motel chain owner’s Ford and led 15 laps before stopping for fuel. On the lap 67, Turner took over the lead for good and held off the Zecol-Lubaid Ford of White and ‘Honest John’ Kilbourn for the win. Sal Tovella and Roger Regeth rounded out the top-5.

The photos in the article are available for purchase from Russ Lake at russlake@wi.rr.com.

The Meadowdale International Raceways Preservation Association – MIRPA will be hosting their “7th Annual Meadowdale, Motorsports & Memories Car Show” on Saturday, September 12, 2015 10am – 3pm. Raceway Woods, Carpentersville, IL, Trophies will be awarded in many classes at 2:30pm. We are located within the Raceway Woods near the corners of Rt 31 & Huntley Rd in the far Northwest corner of Carpentersville, IL. Show cars enter at Rt 31 Silo entrance to Raceway Woods, 1.5 miles north of Rt 72. Any questions? Please contact Linda Daro PH: 847-421-2891 e-mail: mirpa1958@aol.com $10.00 pre-registration / $15.00 day of show

 

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Steve Zautke, a Milwaukee, WI native, was raised in the sport of auto racing. His father, Bill, was a movie photographer that shot racing footage at tracks such as the Milwaukee Mile and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the 1960’s and 1970’s Steve’s first professional job in racing was as an Emergency Medical Technician at tracks such as Angell Park and Hales Corners Speedway (1988-1991). Steve has also worked for the Milwaukee Mile as videographer, in media relations and historian (1993-2011). Steve also has worked as a reporter for Racing Information Systems (RIS) and has written features for ‘Vintage Oval Racing’ and ‘Victory Lane’ magazines. Most recently, Steve has written a book on Road America for Arcadia Publishing. ( http://www.amazon.com/Road-America-Nascar-Library-Collection/dp/1467111457 ) Steve co-hosts “Sparky’s Final Inspection” a motorsports-based radio show with hosts, Steve “Sparky” Fifer and “NASCAR Girl” Summer Santana on Sports Radio 1250AM in Milwaukee and is also available on the internet at www.Sportradio1250.com. A member of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame Induction Committee, Steve follows all types of racing from the dirt tracks to Formula One.