1966 Sixth Annual Ponca City Grand Prix

 

Sixth Annual Ponca City Grand Prix
by STEPHEN J. ENGLAND

Photographs by Russ Crowder

The fourth round of the Midwest National Championship was held over the July 4th weekend on one of the most scenic and sentimental courses in the United States. A living monument to such glorious road courses of the past as Palm Springs and the old Glen circuit, Lake Ponca Park in Ponca City, Oklahoma, retains the true flavor of road racing after half a decade of SCCA participation. Winding through the park and servicing the boat ramps and picnic area, the 28-foot macadam road is tree-lined and refreshingly shady during most of the 100’ plus summer days.

Turn 1 is a fast, 4th-gear in a Birdcage Maserati, left-hander leading into what is commonly called “Outhouse Bend.” This two-stage, decreasing-increasing radius turn gets its name from the abundance of public conveniences adjacent the course. Next is Turn 3, a reverse camber 90’ to the back straight which isn’t straight. A quick, down hill bend ends at the flatiron, a 130’ hairpin which is a challenge to the big modifieds at 30 mph. Back to the start-finish and you’ve covered the fastest 1.5 miles west of the Mississippi. A lap record of 50.93 seconds (100mph)testifies.

Saturday, spent in practice, qualifying, and short races, was relatively uneventful. Two exceptions were the tremendous dice between Ed Walsh’s H Sports-racing Bobsv-Saab and Bob Hindson’s Mini-Cooper. Later on was the duel between Bud Morley in his McLaren Ford and the Brabham-Repco of Jack Hinkle. The Walsh-Hindson battle lasted for six laps of the seven-lap race until Ed lost it in the hairpin, forcing the Mini off the track and through two rows of parked cars. Some exciting moments and about 300 feet later, the Mini emerged through a vacant parking place to capture third overall. The Saab was DNF for the day.

Saturday's Grid - F Production & A Sedan: #23 Glen Leonard, #22 Harold Clapsaddle, # 95 John Stafford, # 72 Bill Boemler, #112 Mack Yates, # 53 D.W. Foerster, #111 Jim Taylor, #78 Bryan Crammond.

The McLaren-Brabham battle was more of a display of fine driving as pole-sitter Hinkle found himself chasing cubic inches. This was the first time the three-time-winner was ever beaten at Ponca, and a sleepless night lay in store for the Brabham mechanics. Of note during the qualifying runs, was a duly anonymous Sprite driver who turned in the slowest qualifying time of the weekend and then managed to spin out during his cool-off lap. Well, you can’t win them all.

Sunday’s sun rose and at noon the melee of National point races began. G Production was a runaway for the Sprite of Gene Kemp, as was H Production for George Johnson’s bug-eye.

Everyone hoped the second 30-minute race would be a repeat of Saturday’s Mini vs. Saab battle, but Hindson managed to get away like a shot in the Mini - and that was that. Ed Walsh seemed more reserved in his repaired Bobsy and barely edged Gordon Waddle’s Lil’ Duck Special for the H Sports-racing win. John Walker won a close race with Vic Campbell’s Renault for a D Sedan win in his Saab GT.

“Can a dragster handle?” was the question to be answered during the race for F Production and Sedans over 1300cc, The dragster in question was a local Mustang sedan set up for the straight-line-boys. Twelve hours before the race, the suspension was beefed up, wide tires were put on the front, and Mack Yates was commissioned to drive the “Rock ‘N Horse.” A DNF on Saturday, Yates worked his way up to third on Sunday before heating problems set in, Spewing like Old Faithful, the Mustang took on 10 gallons of water and Yates rejoined the fray. But the gauges were soon pegged again and the dragster shut down for good. Dave Dooley took overall and B Sedan in his ex-Jim Clark Lotus-Cortina. Ray Post captured F Production in his MGA. After the Yates Mustang went out, Jim Taylor took A Sedan laurels in his Falcon.

Hank Candler ran away from the field in the formula race in his Legrand-Alfa. Action was fast and furious among the Vees. A pack of four circulated like a freight train for the 30 minutes with H. J. Denison assuming the engineer position.

Disappointment was the word for the C, D, & F Production event, as Bill McKemie led C Production in his Elva-Courier Mk IV until a rear wheel carrier failed. Also DNF was Divisional D Production champion, Vic Campbell whose TR-4 expired on the escape road. E Production was less hectic as Jim Thompson led his class all the way in a Lotus Seven. Fillling in the DNF’s in C Production was Don Ginardi in a Lotus Super 7, while Ray Pickering took overall in his TR-4A.

At 5:00 pm with the mercury pushing the century mark, Starter David Wood dropped the flag on the hottest big car field in Ponca history. From start to finish, the C and D Sports-racing, and B Production cars gave the spectators action in abundance. Hinkle and Morley literally shattered all previous records with the Mk 2 McLaren-Ford taking the checkered and the lap record. Jack Hinkle’s D Sports-racing Brabham-Repco just didn’t have the horsepower to catch the USRRC-bound Morley. Back in the pack, last year’s feature winner and almost ARRC C Modified champion Dick Durant had to settle for third in his Chev-Special. Bobby Alyward provided thrills for all in his Birdcage-powered-by-Ford with a faultless display of ragged-edge, hairy-chested racing like it used to he. Lifting wheels on every bump and smoking tires down the straights, the old Maser really flew to 4th overall. In B Production, the Shelby Mustangs all but eliminated themselves with Brad Brooker surviving in his GT 350, taking first-class honors. Stuart Conklin managed to get his Mustang head-on in the guard rail of Turn 3 and the overheating horse set a hay bale on fire to the utter delight of the spectators. Finally, the Mustang was untangled and the farmer who lives about 50 feet from Turn 3 put out the fire with his garden hose. Ah—road racing at its best!

Yes, Ponca City retains the flavor of racing as it used to be, and the Midwest Division eagerly awaits next year’s Ponca City Grand Prix.

(Note: This article originally appeared in the September, 1966 Sports Car magazine.)

 

Dash Plaques 1961-1975

  • 1967
  • 1974
  •  1970
  • 1963
  •  1969
  • 1975
  • 1964
  • 1973
  •  1972
  • 1965
  • 1962
  • 1968
  • 1971
  • 1966

Feature Winners

  • 1980 Neil Harrison Bobsy SR6
  • 1971, 1972, 1973, 1976, 1977 and 1978! Fred Parkhill, McClaren Mk8 Chevrolet
  • 1967 Bobby Alyward McClaren Chevrolet
  • 1963 Jack Hinkle Cooper Monaco Climax
  • 1975 David Jungerman Chevrolet Camaro (The only photos we have of David at Ponca are him spinning. Here he finds the limits of the braking zone at Turn Six as Jack Hodgkinson blasts by.)
  • 1992 Wendell Miller Swift SE3Q
  • 1987 Don Flegal Chevrolet Corvette
  • 1966 Bud Morley McLaren Ford
  • 1961-62 Jack Hinkle Birdcage Maserati
  • 1965 Dick Durant Durant Special Chevrolet
  • 1969 John McComb Ford Mustang
  • 1974 Bud Crout Lola T294
  • 1968 Bobby Alyward McLaren Chevrolet
  • 1964 Bud Morley Elva Mk7 BMW

Dash Plaques 1976-1992

  • 1976-B
  • 1977-B
  • 1987
  • 1976-A
  • 1978
  • 1981
  • 1989
  • 1991
  • 1979
  • 1980
  • 1990
  • 1977-A
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