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IndyCar / USAC : 1971


Indy/USAC : 1971


1-DVD (124 minutes)

1971 Phoenix 150   (7 min)

A short highlight reel from the 1971 Phoenix 150. This was the third race of the 1971 USAC season,
and it was all Unser so far. Al Unser and the Johnny Lightning Special make it 3 wins in a row.


1971 Indy 500  (87 min)

Ranked as one of the greatest Indy 500’s ever, this is a live tape delay broadcast from ABC-Sports (this was how all the
Indy 500’s were broadcast back then, to allow editing, the addition of special segments, and a prime time airing, but the
footage is live as it happened earlier in the day). The race got off to a rocky start. The 1971 Dodge Challenger Pace Car,
driven by the owner of local car dealership rather than a professional driver, dives into pit lane at a high speed as the field
gets the green flag. The Pace Car goes out of control and slams into a packed photographers stand. There were some
severe injuries, but no one in the Pace Car, which contained astronaut John Glenn, ABC-TV commentator Chris Schenkel,
and Tony Hulman (owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway) were injured (Schenkel had to recover after the accident
and did not do any commentary for this race). This would also mark the last time a non-professional driver would drive the
pace car. In the race, Mark Donahue was the early leader, but on lap 16, Steve Krisiloff blew an engine and Mel Kenyon
spins in the oil, ending up against the outside wall. As Mel is exiting his car, he sees Gordon Johncock and Mario Andretti
racing towards him, and knowing they would spin on the oil slick, he ducks back down into his cockpit at the last second,
just as Johncock’s car slams into Kenyon’s parked car and actually runs over the cockpit. Kenyon would later say that
Johncock “left tires tracks on my helmet”. On lap 67, Mark Donahue suffered a gearbox failure while leading the race. Al
Unser and Joe Leonard battled for the lead, with Al Unser eventually taking the position. Another crash occurred on the
main straight involving Rick Muther, who collected David Hobbs in the process, in what seemed like another frightening
accident (Hobbs was interviewed about the incident). Then on lap 159, Mike Mosley slammed into an outside wall and had
a 40-foot streak of flame trailing behind his car. Looking like a meteor, Mosley’s car slides across to the inside wall, where
two other cars had been parked earlier (one was Mark Donahue’s stranded car). Mosley slams into the parked cars, and
behind him, Bobby Unser gets wrapped up in the carnage. Gary Bettenhausen, who was not far behind, came to a stop on
the track, jumped out of his car, and ran towards Mosley, who was still in his flaming car. Mosley would be airlifted from the
scene with a broken leg and severe burns. The race ends with yet another win for Al Unser. Excellent coverage of the race,
although it was edited down a bit for TV to fit into the necessary prime time slot for ABC. This was a rebroadcast by ESPN
Classic a few years ago (watermark in the corner), and the commentators are Jackie Stewart and Jim McKay, along with
Chris Economaki, Bill Fleming, Keith Jackson, and a young David Letterman handling the on track and pit lane interviews.


1971 Rex Mays Classic 150   (6 min)

The next race after the Indy 500, held at the Wisconsin State Fair Park Speedway. Al Unser is
still on a roll, capturing yet another win (that makes five of the first six 1971 USAC races). This
is a short highlight reel from the old TV show Car And Track, with host Bud Lindemann.


1971 Pocono 500   (24 min)

The next race after the Rex Mays Classic (above) was held at the brand new Pocono International Speedway in
Long Pond, Pennsylvania. This time it’s Mark Donahue that finally breaks up Al Unser’s grip on the 1971 USAC
season. The very popular Donahue gets his first win of the season, and this would also mark the first win for
Roger Penske as a car owner in the IndyCar/USAC series. Another interesting bit of USAC trivia; this was the first
time the Pace Car (a 1971 Camaro) would be sent out during caution laps to reform the field. This is truly an
excellent film produced by the Schaefer Brewing Company (this race was also called the Schaefer 500).