The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana on May 25, 1981 · Page 34
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The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana · Page 34

Indianapolis, Indiana
Issue Date:
Monday, May 25, 1981
Page 34
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PAGE 34 THE INDIANAPOLIS STAR MONDAY, MAY 25, 1981 rookies!? r .1 rru-:.,m -- '4n.. .? What Cogan, Brabham tough in By BONNIE THARP First-year competitors Kevin Co-..gan and Geoff Brabham proved Sunday they have the equipment and ; driving skills to compete with the -V-Big Boys." The duo finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 65th running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race and were "charging at the conclusion. Cogan, who raced dune buggies " Against Pamelli Jones in the California desert when he was 11 years old, battled handling problems created by a loose right front wheel to gain his high finish in his initial Indianapolis performance. The 25-year-old Torrance (Calif.) rookie dropped to last in the race from his 12th starting position before working his way through the pack. "IT WAS A LONG, hard endurance test," he said afterward in his garage as the rain pelted on the roof. "I had this bad pushing in the car from the start and it seemed to just get worse as the day 657H iPJDlANAPOLG debuts went along. I had to apply some perseverance. After you know you're last vou try harder." The wheel, which began to work loose near the start, finally "popped off during a yellow light late in the contest. Wreck ends Garza's day By LOU THARP Josele Garza had the benefit of a solid car. an experienced crew and a winning smile, but the rookie 12-lap leader in Sunday's 500-Mile Race was sidelined after tapping the wall just past Turn Three. The 22-year-old Garza, a former Go-kart and Formula Ford driver from Mexico City, refused to take all the blame for being sidelined. "Something happened to the car It was a tire or something else but I didn't just hit the wall." he explained (veteran mechanic Clint Brawner said he thought a hub broke). Just before the crash, Garza had finished a pit stop for tires and fuel. He had led the race from the 99th lap to the NMth and again from Lap 126 to 132. On the 140th, though, with Gordon Johncock leading, Garza's Indy ride went into the past tense. Following the accident, Garza spent 15 minutes alone in his garage, then came out dressed in designer jeans and talked with his fans. HIS CREW. THOUGH disappointed, consisted of veteran Indy people and they went about their jobs cleaning up w ithout overt rookie emotionalism. " He's the next international racing star," one man said. But he's not there yet a crew member had to coach the fans in the tower terrace to applaud. Once the fans realized who they were looking at, however, sections of cheers erupted as Josele walked down pit row. "I never thought I'd lead the race," remarked the fastest rookie qualifier for the 65th running of the 500. He started outside in the second row after his 195 101 qualifying run. "I mean, you don't come to Indianapolis and lead it your first year out." Actually, Tim Richmond, last year's top rookie, also had led the race in his first outing. "It was fun leading," Garza said. "I figured as long as my car held up I would stay in front." GARZA STAYED in the top 10 for most of the first 40 laps and although the yellow caution light came on 11 times during the afternoon, most of his leading laps were under the green. "The car ran really well," he continued. "And when I touched the wall it was only a scratch." Indeed, the No. 55 car was rolled into the garage with what looked like very minor damage to the right side skin. "I'll be back next year, and in the meantime I'm going to run the other championship races," said Garza, one of three Psachie Team drivers in Sunday's field. In addition to Garza's leading laps, teammates Geoff Brabham and Steve Krisiloff made the new entry look good, finishing fifth and eighth, respectively. Sweeney undecided on start but drivers not confused The start of Sunday's 500-Mile Race was an invitation to a disaster that didn't occur. Confusion on whether to start the race at the end of the pace lap led to a start that had Starter Duane Sweeney reaching for his yellow flags, Steward Johnny Vance showing a yellow from the start-finish line in the pits and Sweeney sw itching back to the green after at least the first two rows had crossed the yard of bricks. "It was my fault," said Sweeney, who was starting his second 500. "They didn't look good and then all of a sudden they straightened out." WHAT HAPPENED at that point was that Sweeney, with twin green flags in his hand, started to put them down and reached for the yellow to signify one more lap. Vance, stationed at the wall between the pits and the track, took his cue from Sweeney and started swinging his caution bunting. Then Sweeney ended his effort to go to yellow for a false start and switched to his green flags after at least the first two rows had passed and Vance was caught with a yellow flag showing from the other side of the track. Again taking his cue from Sweeney, he yanked it down. Fortunately, and as everybody has always thought, the drivers weren't paying a lick of attention to Sweeney or Vance. They were watching the lights and they went green when Chief Steward Tom Binford said go. Unlike other championship races, the chief steward, not the starter, makes the gono-go for the 500. "I never called for the yellow," said Binford. "It was like every other race I've been here. "IT WASN'T A perfect start but it was adequate. I thought it was better to go green than take the risks of a re-start in this "race. The first row was pretty ragged, but the rest of the pack wasn't too bad" Binford said he thought Sweeney "may have been thinking like he would be at other tracks where he makes the decision and he didn't like the lineup. It was a close call, but I think here we should have gone green." Sweeney made no effort to shift the blame higher. "It was my mistake," he said. "Fortunately, it didn't matter. It wasn't my first mistake, and I hope it's not one I'll repeat. "You've got to make the decision sooner. I waited too late. But this was one I was worried about. You had speed in front, rookies, more speed, more rookies and more speed. I was more concerned about this start than any I've had" The ragged front row was the result of pole sitter (and winner) Bobby Unser wanting to outduel middle man Mike Mosley for the dash into the first turn. "I jumped everybody a little bit," said Unser. "I thought Mosley thought he would have an advantage on me because he had more torque." The torque is important the slower the speed. So Bobby wanted to bring the field down quickly while Mosley wanted a slow start. "I WASNT GOING to stand for that," said Unser. "I'm on the pole. I'm the boss they have to keep up with me. I took my foot off the brake when we came out of the fourth turn." Unser admitted he didn't see a flag green, yellow or otherwise. "I saw a green light and I blocked everything else out," he said. The rest of the field, apparently acting in unison, did the same. And it's a good thing. Had some of the field been going green and others honoring Vance's pit side yellow the results could have been a front stretch catastrophe such as marred the 1966 and 1973 races. The credit for the fact there wasn't goes to the drivers. DAVE OVER-PECK. "I was in the fourth turn and heading for the pits when it happened." Cogan explained. "I was going pretty slow and I had already told the crew I was coming in." He drove the car down pit lane on three wheels. Cogan didn't have much time to prepare for his first Indianapolis race. "It was a last-minute deal," he said. "We just put our package together two weeks ago" Cogan has had plenty of time in the cockpit of various racing machines. He started in go-karts then advanced to Formula Fords and Formula Atlantics. In 1977, he was national Formula B champion. After Sunday's race, Pamelli greeted Cogan in the garage, congratulating him on a "nice, calm race." Jones believes the young Californian "has the makings of a Al Unser or a Rick Mears. He's a super race driver," he said. "I just hope I can change his thinking and keep him racing in the United States instead of attempting to compete on the international circuit." Brabham, the 23-year-old Australian-born son of Jack Brabham, exclaimed, "I did what I came to do. I was hoping to finish in the first six." He took his performance in stride after jockeying from his 15th starting position to a place among the leaders. It was the best finish ever for a Brabham at Indianapolis. The position posted by his father was ninth in 1961, when he surprised many people with the capabilities of his little rear-engine machine. "I'M TIRED AND I'm glad it's over." the younger Brabham said Sunday. "I had a flat tire and a pop-off valve gave me problems the last half of the race." Brabham, who has spent most of his racing career in various Formula cars beginning in 1973 in Australia, finished ninth in his first championship test at Phoenix earlier this year. Was there anything special about running with such people as Johnny Rutherford, Bobby Unser, Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt? "I enjoyed it, but you know, they have two feet and a head just like me," he quipped. Two accidents not far in front of Brabham didn't seem to bother him, but one of the mishaps did contribute to the flat tire that bent the frame on the car's nose about halfway through the race. That problem wasn't nearly as vexing, however, as a pop-off valve which kept coming open. "The pop-off problem bothered me during the last 50 laps and I adjusted it two stops but I finally ran out of adjustments." Other than those minor inconveniences, "everything went quite smoothly," he said. "I'm ready for Milwaukee (June 7) and the first Can-Am race." MMTV ; t l ' '; Rookie Kevin Cogan learns (Star Prwio by Htm Howw) of his fourth place finish Tony B's rookie ride tops 'wildest dreams' A friend leaned over to Tony Bet-tenhausen in his garage at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and said. "C'mon Tony, this should be your day." The 29-year-old from Speedway, who Sunday had just run his first Indianapolis 500, slowly shook his head. It could have been his day, maybe it should have been his day. However, it wasn't turning out that way. TONY BETTENHAUSEN, the youngest son of the late Indy driver Tony Bettenhausen Sr., finished seventh after starting in the middle of the sixth row, not an ideal spot for a first-time driver at Indianapolis. And he was running at the finish. "We came here with one car and one engine," he said. "We were just hoping to get. through the month. Then, to finish seventh, well, it's beyond my wildest dreams." But . . . On lap 146, Bettenhausen and Gordon Smiley clipped each other. Tony escaped and continued. Smiley was not as fortunate, spinning and hitting the wall. After the incident. Smiley a second-year driver made no bones in claiming the accident was Bettenhausen's fault and that the rookie didn't belong at the Speedway. "My right front tire was going flat and when that happens you can't steer the car," Bettenhausen explained. "As I was going into the third corner, the car wouldn't turn and I got up in the loose stuff, but 1 got back okay ir the short chute. "I tried to get my hand up (to warn other drivers he was having trouble) and I guess he didn't see it. It was pretty obvious I had a problem. I was trying to get out of the way, but we just clipped each other. I'm sorry it happened, but I damn sure didn't puncture the tire on purpose." OUTSIDE Bettenhausen's garage after the race. Smiley came over and was talking to Tony and his brother, Gary. After a few minutes of discussion, Gary and Smiley began pushing and shoving each other. Gary was restrained and Smiley left before any punches were thrown. "I really don't have any comment on that," Tony said. "Gary's proud of our family name and he doesn't like anybody to discredit it." Smiley was unavailable for comment. Despite the tempers, Tony's ride in the No. 16 Provimi Veal McLarenCosworth was still the top item of discussion in the garage. "The car performed great all day," Bettenhausen said. "For not having a ground effects car. we did a pretty good job, considering. We have only one guy on the payroll and the rest of the crew is volunteer. It's hard to have success with an operation like that and I'm proud we " could do it." - DAVID BENNER Mechanically, '81 race hardly ranks unusual The 65th running of the 500-Mile Race wasn't much different than the other 64 from a mechanical standpoint. Attrition of various sorts took out a little more than half the field, and those who dropped out did so for the usual reasons ranging from running into things to pieces breaking. In this respect, the four rocker arm engines fared about as well as the 29 exotic Cosworths which were in the race. One finished, one blew, one departed for reasons other than engine problems and one is listed as something of a question mark. Jerry Karl, who certainly had his tribulations this year just to start the "500," was still churning along with his 355 Chevy V-fl when the checkered flag dropped for winner Bobby Unser. Karl admittedly had turned but 189 laps when Unser completed his 200th, but he still did better than 18 others guys, a lot of them in some pretty exotic equipment. Tom Bigelow's 355 Chevy is the only one officially listed as having engine failure, and this engine really is a stock block as the block was cast at Chevrolet Motor Division's foundry at Tonawanda, NY. THE ONLY TLRBOCHARGED stock block, a 209 Chevy driven by Tom Klaus-ler, went out due to gearbox problems. Mike Mosley's 355 Chevy which started the race in the middle of the front row is listed as being out with a radiator problem. But this report is suspect, with car owner Dan Gurney saying, "We don't know what happened. We haven't looked at the car. Mosley said something went bang' and it stopped." Five Cosworths are listed as taking the plunge due to mechanical reasons. And some of these may be open to question, like Gordon Johncock's departure on lap 194 due to engine failure However, engine man Louis (Sonny) Meyer Jr., said, "I don't know what's fPIT PASS rWBi n4? wrong. There was no vibration or anything, it just stopped." The one-two finish of Bobby Unser and Mario Andretti wasn't particularly sup-rising to astrologer Jan Moore, author of the column "It's In The Stars" on Sunday in The Indianapolis Star. Mrs. Moore had told friends prior to the race that based upon the astrological charts of Unser and Andretti she was torn between the two as to who would win. Unser was finally given the nod as the aspects of his chart showed good fortune and public honor. Duke Nalon drove 149 miles in the race and said "If we'd had a number on the car, it would have finished in 20th place." Nalon was driving the pace car, which comes on the track to control traffic under yellow caution lights indicating unsafe conditions. The pace car was obviously busy, logging more miles than all but the 19 racers which were still running at the end. There were 11 yellow caution lights governing 69 of 200 laps and and 102 minutes of the the race. During yellow-light conditions, the pace car takes the track to keep the cars to slower speeds. By U.S. Auto Club rules, the cars may bunch up in a pack but they may not change position and pass any other car. Bobby Allison wins; brother is injured Charlotte, N.C. (AP) Donnie Allison was seriously injured Sunday while his brother, Bobby, held off the challenge of Harry Gant to win a gruelling World 600 NASCAR Grand National stock car race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Allison, who collected $60,200 for the victory, was in contention throughout the race in his Buick, leading 10 times for 140 laps. In capturing his second World 600, Allison averaged 129.326 miles per hour. In the day's major accident, Donnie Allison's Old-smobile scraped the wall in the fourth turn and bounced off the wall and started rolling across the track. Dick Brooks' car then struck the Allison's car on the drivers side. Both drivers remained in their cars for several minutes as medical attendants worked to free them from the wreckage. Allison was unconscious when removed from his car. Allison listed in guarded condition at Charlotte Memorial Hospital where he was rushed after the accident. He suffered head injuries and body contusions, including a broken shoulder blade. Brooks received a dislocated right shoulder. Twenty-four of the 42-ear field completed the longest race on the NASCAR circuit before a sellout crowd estimated at 135,000. Hewlett-Packard has what it takes to solve your scientific, engineering and business problems. HP-41C IN STOCK We offer a complete line of Hewlett-Packard calculators and accessories. SCHNEIDER ENGINEERING CORP. 3675 N. Post Rd. 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For Clubhouse reserved seats, phone (502) 636-3541 before 11:30 a.m. Dining room reservations, phone (502) 636-3351.

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