Posted on: January 26, 2011
Gasoline Alley Unplugged
By: Donald Davidson
Johnny Rutherford wins the pole at the 1973 Indianapolis 500
Tagged as: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indy 500, Johnny Rutherford, McLaren, Pole Winners, racing
There are 14 comments for this post.
What a great looking race car! Got to meet Johnny last year at Indy and it was so amazing! Look at all the people in the stands on pole day…Wow. I can’t wait till May.
Yeah i like the lone star J.R. cars,and i agree look at those stands on pole day.Filled!!!! i remember it taking hours to get into the track on pole day,just like race day.I hope to see these kinda crowds again,I think in 2012 when all of those engines Mfrs,and the new chassis,that the body panels can be changed,i think 2012 will set some record crowds or at least drive them way up ,like back in the day.Lets face it the last 6 to 10 years all the cars look the same,only difference is the paint jobs and numbers.to see didfferent style of cars with different Engines,is like it used to be whne the speedway attracted all those fans.Cant Wait!!!!!!!
Compared to Pole day at the Speedway in the 50 s, 60 s and 70 s, and 80 s……….its a joke today. There are so many reasons….but whats sad, its no different than all oval track racing….Where are the midget, sprint car anbd champ dirt car drivers??? THEY…filled the stands as a guy in Podunk, NJ, CA., AZ, TX, etc etc could go see the “500″ winner running a midget at their local 1/4 dirt track… against the local favorite…who many times would blow the 500 winners doors off. NOW..its wine and cheese and custom coaches to hide from the fans in!
I don’t think anyone ever ran closer to the wall in the short chutes than ol’ Lone Star did. It looked like he was going to “whitewall” the tires every lap.
My initial observation was the first thing Donald mentioned—it’s a sunny day, in ’73! Is it my imagination or is the front wing on this McLaren ever so slightly tilted to the drivers side? It looks like the right (passenger) side is just slightly higher than the other. And, is that, as Tom Carnegie would say, “day-bree” in the side pods on both sides? I can remember pit crews during this era at Indy sticking their hands in to the side pods during pit stops to remove garbage and free up air intake.
Hey 6th Gear, I love your comments! “Day-bree” does seem to be stuck in the air intake. I don’t think the car is tipped left however. It looks to me like the camera man was a little off. What’s amazing is that at the time this picture was taken, Lone Star JR had NEVER LEAD A LAP at Indianapolis even thought he’d been racing there since 1963. JR didn’t lead from pole in 1973, but a year later he starts in ROW NINE, leads over half the race and WINS. Johnny Rutherford is the best spokesman Indycar racing could ask for. He’s great to the fans and very articulate. He and Richard Petty have the 2 best looking autographs in motorsports.
How many recall that Swede Savage was actually the first driver to break the track record that day? Unfortunately, the day got off to a tragic start when Art Pollard suffered fatal injuries in a morning practice session crash before official time trials began.
This HAD to be the largest qualifying crowd in IMS history (I was there as a 12-year old). Everyone was whipped into a frenzy as to who would be the first driver to break the magical 200 mph mark – or even if it would be broken.
Those speeds were definitely uncharted waters at the time and this was very dangerous business. JR’s 1973 pole speed was over 18 mph faster than the 1970 pole! All these factors probably contributed to the huge crowd.
I have mixed feeling about the 1973 race. I wasn’t born yet but my hubby said he got so disgusted with that race that he stopped following the ’500′ and racing in general until 1982. It’s interesting that Gordon Johncock won both races—what my hubby considers the worst and best in ’500′ history!
I like Ted Woerner was there in ’73 at 16 years old and was in turn one when Polard lost it.
Large crowds, heat and rain that weekend also. A bad year for sure and one they (drivers-crews) don’t like to remember.
It’s different now, of course. The track record will probably never be broken again due to safety reasons and that’s what the crowds came for. They may be able to get some of that excitement back with the top nine competing like last year but you won’t hear Tom’s great booming voice calling out “It’s a new track record!” again. That’s what filled the stands and gave you goose bumps.
The Gulf McLarens were such beautiful cars. Look how big the rear wing is on this car! I was at IMS on pole day and everyday for the race. My father pulled me out of school to see the last day of the race and it was cold, dark, and dreary with very little people in the stands. It was also a dark day and month for IMS with the all carnage and fatalities.
I have vivid recall of this day as an eight, nearly nine year old. It was my first Pole Day; I was very excited to actually go to something besides practice. Sadly, Art Pollard’s car came to rest right in front of us in the Southeast Vista in the morning practice, and that is an image that never goes away. It was cool and windy, so we went looking for sweatshirts and missed Johnny Rutherford’s run (but certainly heard Tom Carnegie’s “Aaaaaaaaand it’s a NEEEEEW TRACK RECORD”), and my parents refused to spend $8 dollars each for sweatshirts for the kids…that was big money back in the day! Have only missed two Pole Days since and been to every “500″ since 1973. A terrible introduction to the “big days” (non-practice) at the Track. Thankfully, we’ve not had a repeat of that year.
I remember the first time Rutherford saw the Speedway. I was on the gerhardt crew, Cotton farmer was the driver and he asked me to go with to the airport to pick up an old buddy at the airport. The old buddy was JR. Cotton took John around to all the vantage points to point out shut off points etc. I had taken a picture of a car on the track and Johnny was also in it. In 1980 i showed my son the picture and he recognized Rutherford and said, “Was Rutheford alive way back then?” Johnny and I had a good laugh.
Congrats to him! Keep up the good work. Good luck!
That would be so awesome to meet him! You are so mucky. I had a business meeting with Scott Turner that day and I had to miss most of the race. My friend recorded it so at least I got to watch all of it. I would love to drive one of those cars.
Let me know what you think?
Mail (will not be published, required)
Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree
Copyright © 2013 The Official Blog of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Download Free WP Themes | Mahinhin is designed by Padd Solutions.
In collaboration with Sugar Daddy, USA Area Codes, and Website Reviews.