1961 Petite Prix

Category: Racing
Published on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 15:38
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Editor's Comments: The 1961 Petite Prix almost didn't happen. The February, 1961 Gazette listed "Okla. Petite Prix Road Races - State Fairgrounds: for August 12 - 13".  By March the date had been moved to August 5 - 6. In July the listing had been dropped altogether, with a "Rocket Rally" set for August 5th.

The August Gazette Bill Watson, RE, stated "The Good news is out ! The Oklahoma Region will have their annual road race after all.  This time it will be Norman, Oklahoma, using a portion of the original Navy Training Depot for a race site. The Dates ? September 30 - October 1."

The track was laid out on concrete roads which have been replaced with the Jimmie Austin Golf Course. I haven't found a map of the course, but from memory it was basically a two mile triangle with a 110 degree hairpin for turn one, a short straight followed by two right hand left hand ninety degree combos and a long downhill sweeper leading onto a long up-hill straight to start finish.

The following race story is printed in All-Caps because the 1961 Gazette Editor, Jeannie Reudy, was a Commercial Artist who loved all caps.  The format of the Gazette was also unique:  41/2" by 6" flipchart (horozontal fold) on matte paper.

Finally, in researching this story I noted 1961 was a landmark year for new members. Streeter B. Flynn, David Dooley, Russell Berry, John Saucier, D.W. Doc Foerster, Glen Leonard, Eloise Norris, George England, David A. Wood and Dick Thomas all joined the Region in 1961. 

 

RACE WEEKEND STARTED WITH A DOWNPOUR OF RAIN ON SATURDAY MORNING MAKING THE DRIVE TO NORMAN A BIT NASTY. SATURDAY’ S RACES WERE TIMED IN MINUTES INSTEAD OF LAPS. THE NOVICE RACE GOT A LATE START WITH ALL CLASSES ENTERED. THE ONE B MODIFIED CAR, #66 DRIVEN BY JIM JORSKI, FAILED TO SHOW ON THE FIRST LAP. RICK KELLY GOT OFF TO A GOOD START AND HELD THE LEAD ALL THE WAY BURNING HIS HEADLIGHTS TO SHOW HE WAS A SAFE DRIVER. THE BATTLE WAS FOR SECOND PLACE WITH JACK JEFEERS’ AUSTIN-HEALEY KEEPING SECOND UNTIL NEXT TO THE LAST LAP WHEN REVON CRAIG GOT AROUND HIM IN THE MGA TO TAKE SECOND. JOHN SAUCIER, WHO USED TO DELIVER OUR DAILY PAPERS, TOOK FOURTH IN HIS MGA 1600.

RACE #2 WAS CANCELLED AND RACE #3 LINED UP ON THE FALSE GRID WITH TEN ENTRIES, ALL H PRODUCTION EXCEPT FOR ONE GT DRIVEN BY BOB SIMONS. CHARLES TROWBRIDGE WAS FIRST, VERNON BIXBY WAS SECOND, AND RICHARD ANDERSON WAS THIRD, ALL WITH FIAT ABARTHS. THE GT KARMIN-GHIA WAS SIXTH OVERALL AND WAY AHEAD OF THREE SPRITES.

RACE #4 FOR F AND G PRODUCTION CARS WAS LED ALL THE WAY BY RICHARD DILBECK IN A PORSCHE 1600N WITH JERRY SALYER IN A PORSCHE 1600N IN SECOND. FORREST JONES TOOK THIRD PLACE IN HIS BLACK AND ORANGE MGA 1600. EVERYONE SEEMED TO BE DRIVING WITH CARE AND THE LEAD CARS KEPT THEIR POSITIONS THROUGH THE COMPLETE RACE. THE REAL RACE WAS BETWEEN DON BYE IN THE ALFA ROMEO SPRINT AND FRANK MANLEY IN A DB, WITH THE DB FINISHING FIRST IN CLASS G, BYE SECOND, WITH R. W. SMITH; JR. THIRD IN A DB 850.

RACE #5 STARTED WITH BERT PERSONS’ ELVA TAKING THE LEAD OFF THE LINE WITH EUGENE STONE’S TR-3 IN SECOND, BOTH E PRODUCTICN CARS. HOWEVER, THE WALSH H MODIFIED SPECIAL, DRIVEN BY BOB BURNEY, TOOK THIRD POSITION ON THE FOURTH LAP AND THERE WAS NO HOLDING HIM FROM THEN. HE TOOK THE LEAD ON THE SEVENTH LAP AND WON THE RACE HANDS DOWN. BOB HARNESS’ FIAT FINISHED SECOND IN HM WITH TOM NEWCOMER’S DB LEMANS THIRD. PERSONS WON CLASS E WITH STONE SECOND AND DICK IRISH’S LOTUS ELITE THIRD.

RACE #6 WAS FOR C AND D PRODUCTION AND FORMULA JR. WITH FOURTEEN ENTRIES. C. S. TROSPER’S PORSCHE LED THE FIRST LAP WITH CHUCK HALL’ S LOTUS XX MOVING UP FROM THE MIDDLE OF THE PACK TO PASS HIM IN THE SECOND LAP AND LEAD THE RACE THE REST OF THE TIME. THE FORMULA JRS SEEMED T0 HAVE TROUBLE. TIMOTHY COLLINS IN A COOPER FAILED TO FINISH THE FIRST LAP AND DANNY MOORE IN A DKW HAD TROUBLE ON THE FIRST TURN FINISHING ONLY TWO LAPS. THE BMC WITH JOHN HOWARD DRIVING FINISHED FIFTH OVERALL BUT THE BEAUTIFUL DRIVING OF CHUCK HALL BROUGHT HIM IN AHEAD OF THE PACK BY A WIDE MARGIN. C. S. TROSPER WON SECOND OVERALL AND FIRST IN CLASS, WITH R. E. L. HAYES IN HIS ACE BRISTOL TAKING SECOND IN CLASS AND THIRD OVERALL. BILL ROBERTS’ HEALEY 3000 TOOK THIRD IN CLASS CP. D PRODUCTION WAS WON BY ROBERT SHAW IN AN ALFA WITH JACK REED’S HEALEY SECOND AND GENE SMILEY’S HEALEY THIRD.

RACE #7, THE LAST RACE OF THE DAY, WAS WON BY JACK HINKLE IN HIS BIRDCAGE. END OF THE FIRST LAP FOUND ED HAUSSERMAN’S RSK IN THIRD PLACE BEHIND DEAN KNIGHT’S CHEVARRI. BY THE END OF THE FOURTH LAP HE HAD MOVED UP TO SECOND PLACE WITH KNIGHT AND ENOS WILSON’S BIRDCAGE BATTLING FOR THIRD. BY THE END OF THE ELEVENTH LAP WILSON HAD TAKEN THIRD WITH KNIGHT FOLLOWING IN FOURTH. THESE CARS ALL FINISHED A LAP AHEAD OF THE REST OF THE CARS. CLINTON LINDBURG WON GM IN HIS ELVA MK V. RONALD MOSS FINISHED SECOND AND DAVE KISER THIRD, BOTH DRIVING LOTUS MK XI’S.

THE PARTY AFTER THE SATURDAY RACES WAS HELD AT THE LOCKETT HOTEL IN NORMAN WITH PLENTY OF RACE TALK, LIQUID REFRESHMENT AND HORS D’ OERVES. EVERYONE SEEMED TO ENJOY THE GET TOGETHER.

SUNDAY DAWNED NICE AND DRY AND SOME WORK HAD BEEN DONE ON THE TRACK SATURDAY NIGHT. PRACTICE STARTED EARLY AND PHIL HUNT LOST A WHEEL WRECKING HIS BERKELEY SPECIAL MAKING IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR HIM TO RUN IN THE DAYS RACE.

RACE #8 WAS A TWENTY LAPPER AND THIRTEEN CARS ENTERED. RICHARD ANDERSON IN AN HP ZAGATO TOOK FIRST PLACE AT THE STARTING LINE AND MAINTAINED HIS LEAD THROUGH THE RACE. VERNON BIXBY IN ANOTHER HP ZAGATO RAN SECOND THROUGH SEVENTEEN LAPS, THEN LOST IT IN A TURN AND HAD TO QUIT. BRUCE LARSON IN ANOTHER HP ZAGATO THEN MOVED UP TO SECOND WITH HAROLD CLAPSADDLE IN THIRD AND BILL BOWERSOX IN FOURTH. BOB SIMONS WON THE GT CLASS.

RACE #9 STARTED WITH THIRTEEN CARS AND THE FIRST SIX PLACES WENT TO F PRODUCTION CARS, DILBECK, SALVER, JONES, LIGHTFOOT, CRAIG, AND SIMONS IN THAT ORDER. FIRST G PRODUCTION CAR WAS BYE, WHO WAS SEVENTH OVERALL; R. N. SMITH, JR. SECOND AND ROBERT HINDSON’S SPRITE WAS THIRD.

hinkle

RACE #10 WAS MOST EXCITING AS GORDON GRESHAM IN THE WALSH SPECIAL MOVED UP FROM FIFTH AT THE END OF THE FIRST LAP TO FIRST AT THE END OF THE SIXTH LAP ONLY TO PUSH TOO HARD IN THE FIRST TURN OF THE SEVENTH LAP AND LOSE CONTROL ENOUGH TO END UP SIXTH OVERALL. A TR-3 DRIVEN BY EUGENE STONE TOOK FIRST PLACE WITH TOM NEWCOMER’S DB LEMANS SECOND AND BERT PERSONS THIRD. ELEVEN CARS STARTED BUT ONLY EIGHT CARS FINISHED THE RACE. THIRD IN EP WENT TO TED PARRISH IN HIS TR-3. GRESHAM FINISHED SECOND IN EM WITH PAUL P4CKARD’S DB PANHARD THIRD.

RACE #11 HAD TEN ENTRIES INCLUDING TWO CORVETTES WHICH HAD NOT RUN IN PRACTICE SO THEY HAD TO TAKE THEIR PRACTICE LAPS DURING THE RACE. MACK YATES’ CORVETTE LED THE FIELD UNTIL THE LAST LAP WHEN HE BLEW HIS ENGINE AND C. S. TRGSPER PASSED HIM TO WIN THE RACE. HOWEVER, YATES DID CROSS THE FINISH LINE AND TOOK A SECOND OVERALL AND FIRST IN CLASS. TROSPER TOOK FIRST AND R. E. L. HAYES’ BRISTOL TOOK THIRD WITH MULLEN’S CORVETTE IN FOURTH PLACE ALL THE WAY. TOMMY ALLEN TOOK FIFTH OVERALL AND FIRST IN CLASS AFTER BILL ROBERTS EITHER SPUN OUT OR MISSED A TURN IN THE TENTH LAP. BILL FINISHED THIRD IN CP WITH ROBERT SHAW‘S ALFA TAKING SECOND TO ALLEN IN CLASS DP AND GENE SMILEY THIRD.

THE PETITE PRIX RAN FOR TWENTY-FIVE LAPS AND WAS NO SWEAT FOR JACK HINKLE. HE LAPPED EVERY CAR ON THE ROAD TWICE EXCEPT FOR THE FIRST FIVE PLACE CARS AND HE LAPPED TWO OF THEM ONCE. HE SEEMED TO BE FLOATING AROUND THE TRACK WITH ALL THE EASE OF A SUNDAY DRIVER, ALL THE WHILE MAKING GOOD LAP TIMES. WILSON WON SECOND IN HIS BIRDCAGE AND HAUSSERMAN WAS THIRD IN A PORSCHE RS-61. ALL DID EXCELLENT DRIVING. JAY HOKE WON EM, LINDBURG AGAIN TOPPING ALL GM CARS AND JOHN ROWLEY GRABBING HONORS IN CM.

THE SUN WAS GOING DOWN, THE SKY WAS CLOUDING UP AND IT LOOKED LIKE THE BOTTOM MIGHT DROP OUT. THE RAIN HELD OFF AND TROPHIES WERE PRESENTED AT THE TRACK. EVERYONE WENT HOME TIRED IF NOT HAPPY. MARY KATE LESLIE

THANKS TO ALL THE MARSHALS AND THEIR WORKERS FOR A FINE JOB. MORE PRAISE WAS GIVEN BY ENTRIES THAN I HAVE EVER SEEN. THE ATTITUDE WAS A PLEASANT ONE WHICH IS WONDERFUL PUBLIC RELATIONS FOR THE CLUB. AGAIN THANKS FOR A JOB WELL DONE. TOMMY ALLEN, RACE CHAIRMAN, PETITE PRIX